Manchester students: Let us address the conundrum that is second year at uni

Let’s get real


The second year conundrum is the time where you realise you are changing but are not quite prepared to let go of your past self go. It’s the stage of evolution no one really discusses. It’s the best year but also the most defining one. After it being drilled into you these are going to be the best years of your life, it’s okay, normal even, to feel unsettled, confused and overwhelmed. It’s also normal to feel underwhelmed at the reality of university, and the fact not every moment of uni is the fantasy you were told it would be. I promise you everyone is in the same boat.

I’ve done first year. I’ve gotten the battle scars and the weight gain (which is by the way, nothing to be afraid of) to prove it! I’ve faced Factory Mondays, 256 Tuesdays and the feral-ness that is sport Wednesday’s. I lived with black mould and downed three for £5 Jagerbombs at Squirrels. I’ve managed to scrape a pass into second year after barely touching a pen, yet here I am.

However, there is a part of me which now does not miss this. The constant headache-come-hangxiety combo did and still does nothing for my mental and physical wellbeing. Yet, you almost end up feeling guilty if you are not constantly out looking your very best, Lost Mary in hand doing it all for “The Gram”. But, the second year conundrum comes about and you settle into doing normal things like actually turning up for uni, dating and cooking dinner.

Yes that’s me in the photo, over the toilet bowl in my bathroom, in a skirt a few sizes too small, realising I can’t hack my yack like I used to.

Becoming an adult

After first year I, like a lot of us, realised I missed uni and I was desperate to get back into the swing of it. I think I speak for us all when I say I don’t really enjoy clubbing five times a week like I did in first year. A night at the pub seeing all my mates in one space is now my kinda jam. My social group of friends has gotten smaller, which is completely normal when you don’t live across the hall from people anymore- prioritise those close friends you do have!

After first year I, like a lot of us, realised I missed uni and I was desperate to get back into the swing of it. I think I speak for us all when I say I don’t really enjoy clubbing five times a week like I did in first year. A night at the pub seeing all my mates in one space is now my kinda jam. My social group of friends has gotten smaller, which is completely normal when you don’t live across the hall from people anymore- prioritise those close friends you do have!

Second year feels like the “oh so awkward” in-between year, which I would draw parallels with being between 16 and 18. There are no third year diss worries quite yet, but this year actually does count- you can’t just bunk off like in first year.

You know your friends but you still have that first year desire to see and meet everybody. You’re too old to throw all your toys out of the pram but too young to settle down and focus on your career. It’s an odd in-between that leaves even the most comfortable in their own skin, a bit uneasy.

Love Life

Could this be the year of relationships? While all my girls were single in first year or freshly broken up with people from home, this year I’m in a house of eight people where I’m one of two people who are single. Everyone has either met the person of their dreams at uni, firming a relationship with someone from home or the situationship just got a bit serious.

A whopping 62 per cent of Manc students meet their romantic love interest at Manchester University – this is the pure proof this is the time and the place to get wifed up. This is fabulous for you relationship girlies- but for us singletons it leaves a bit of a gap.

There comes a point where you’re not interested in getting attachment issues or god forbid a STI. I’m fed up with the situationships I’ve hopelessly flung myself into. The Hinge game is dire and frankly, depressing. I don’t particularly want a relationship. That being said I can’t say I’m not guilty of a few sloppy kisses in 256. Us second years have now reached the age where we ask people’s ages, because god forbid we rid a fresher of their innocence.

Friendships

I don’t remember all the names of people I befriended in first year – it comes with the cons of being a social butterfly. It’s now come down to the classic double take and squint to work out if I know you or not. Then comes the big decision – do I stride up and try suss out where I know you from through an exchange of forced awkward conversation? Or (my personal favourite) do I pull my hood up and walk past, raising the sides of my mouth slightly in your direction?

I think in second year, following a long summer, you come to realise not every proclaimed “godparent to your child” or BFF you made in first year will stick around. The uni girls trip may not make it out of the group chat. You just learn to realise they’re not the person you thought, or you simply don’t have the time in the day to maintain it.

When I first came to Manchester, I was told I would meet my friends for life in a matter of weeks. Here I am in second year struggling to work out where and who exactly I should direct my energy to.

 

Food

Is it just me who can’t face eating McDonald’s or Kej’s for every meal any more like last year? Last year I would consume an oven pizza with the tiniest bit of salad as my green and I felt like Gwyneth Paltrow. My body nor my bank account can keep up with this ready meal status quo any longer, I have been forced to get my act together with cooking.

After famously burning carrots at my flat Christmas dinner, cooking is not my forte. So it has been a challenge. Nonetheless in my sudden (five years too late) realisation how you eat affects your mental health, I have upped my game in the kitchen to earn myself the title of the healthiest housemate.

Now as a #gymgirlie (I inwardly cringed too-don’t worry), meal prep and counting my protein for the gains has become my routine. It’s frankly disgusting I now spend my evening prepping a week worth of meals on a Monday night, whereas this time last year I was starting the build-up to Factory Monday in Squirrels.