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‘It can’t be that expensive, can it?’ Expectations vs reality of Bristol University

All potential Bristol students should come prepared for a reality check


Take yourself back to sixth form and imagine yourself studying for your A-Levels, and everyone you know is asking the same question; ‘what next?’ The world is your oyster, and you decide that the University of Bristol is what’s calling your name. Your mind is filling up with what you might expect studying at university and what city life will bring you.

But unfortunately, these fantasies don’t always live up to the expectations, so, here’s a roundup of things Bristol students expected when arriving, and whether or not they matched up with our uni dreams.

1. The majority of people will be posh

Starting strong, I’m sure almost all of us anticipated running into packs of posh kids, who’d just been dropped off at their Will’s accommodation in the Range Rover. Living off oat milk ice lattes and their baccy pouches, they are hard to miss on campus. It’s fair to say there are plenty of wealthy people, but not everyone is an insufferable stereotype.

2. The workload

Everyone seemed to be told that the first year of university is easier than A-Levels and, to be fair, it is a bit of a write-off. It’s a time to explore the new city, get to grips with a new lifestyle and, most importantly, spend all your time going out and not feeling guilty about doing no work as you battle a hangover. However, don’t be fooled, what you’re not told is that this period of bliss comes to an end as exam season hits and, before you know it, your second year is in full swing, and you’ve had to swap you’re feral nights out to all-nighters in the ASS.

3. TikTok fuelling ideas of cute places

TikTok has become every student’s preferred search engine over Google for providing us with realistic ideas and opinions for just about everything, and uni life is no exception. Cute aesthetic videos from study spaces to nature and scenery do live up to expectations. Bristol has plenty of beautiful areas we all know and love where we can escape from the library on College Green, the harbour and The Downs.

4. It will be difficult to find ‘your people’

Moving away from home and losing a secure network of people to a fresh start is initially worrying for most of us. It’s safe to say it’s caused mental breakdowns, especially when you realise you have a nightmare set of flatmates. In reality, finding people you really get on with and building friendships all come naturally. They may not be the people you’re randomly asked to share with in the beginning.

5. Bristol has the best nightlife

Moving away from home and losing a secure network of people to a fresh start is initially worrying for most of us. It’s safe to say it’s caused mental breakdowns, especially when you realise you have a nightmare set of flatmates. In reality, finding people you really get on with and building friendships all come naturally. They may not be the people you’re randomly asked to share with in the beginning.

5. Bristol has the best nightlife

Nothing was quite as big of a shock as attending the Freshers’ Fair and realising just how expensive societies are. Didn’t we all go in thinking we would sign up to as many as possible for a laugh? No one warns you about the joining fees and weekly socials, not to mention they all take place on a Wednesday so you can only really be fully committed to one – not to mention the questionable initiations…

8. The dating scene

The unfortunate reality for the singles who were holding onto the hope that they might find true love at university, just like our parents, is that times have changed. High expectations of educated, mature and charming men went completely out the window after seeing some of the behaviour on your first night out on The Triangle.

9. The Hiatt Baker reputation

There seems to be a sort of rivalry between North Village and city centre students, and it all boils down to whether you want to be kept up until 5am every night or prefer to be in bed by 10pm. The hype around North Village is somewhat of a let-down when you realise your flat party has meant that you have to deal with half of your kitchen items being stolen whilst having a raging hangover and trying to catch the U1 for your 9am.

10. Fashion scene and fitting into the Bristol aesthetic

There’s nothing like rocking up to your lectures seeing the range of styles, and realising you are free to express yourself without judgement. Whiteladies and Gloucester Road are full of charity shops to accommodate your fashion needs and shopping addictions to make yourself look like a true Bristol student.