‘You’ll stay together in first year- if you’re lucky. In second year you’ll break up and you’ll go wild. Then in third year, when you want to settle down again, everyone else that’s decent will be taken. That’s what happens when you come to university in a relationship.’
I gave a small laugh and turned away, drink in hand. This was the ‘advice’ I received from the ever wise 18 year-old male fresher. Freshers’ week so far had been filled with comments like this, and over the next few weeks a couple of other people said something along these lines.
Thankfully, I never saw these people again.
A quick glance around the Freshers’ week articles that our favourite media outlets spout out in order to be more ‘relatable’ revealed that there seemed to be some kind of vendetta against going to University in a relationship from school. One particular article states that only 1% of long term relationships at University will work out. Where are you getting those facts, pal? The Tab?
This attitude is buzzing during the early stages of first year. Even our very own Hannah Burke’s first Dear qmunicate… revolves around this – it’s an atmosphere that those in relationships can hardly miss. It makes you constantly fret whether you’ve made the right decision. Should you have broken up with them? Should you have tried to make it work? Why does everyone, who minutes before was just a stranger in your kitchen, suddenly have a world of advice to offer about your romantic life?
I came to university still in a relationship from school, which resulted in me living in halls away from my boyfriend, only being able to see him every so often. To many of my fellow Freshers’, the world revolved around booze, sex with strangers and who was hosting the next party back at Murano.
I’m not going to go on a grand spout about how my freshers’ week was better because it didn’t revolve around sex. I’m sure for many it was an absolute blast. Mine was just different to those ones, like those who choose not to drink will also have a different, yet equally enjoyable experience. University life can still be fun when it doesn’t focus on those two components of student life, shockingly enough.
If anything, it was helpful in establishing who actually wanted to have a platonic friendship instead of constantly pondering if the person talking to you had a hidden agenda. After a casual mention of ‘the boyfriend’, those who wanted something more hastily scuttled off. Which is good for both you and the scuttler- no point hanging around when both parties have clearly different interests.
I also found it interesting that many people told me I wouldn’t remember the people I met during freshers’ week that aren’t your flatmates or immediate neighbours in halls. I wouldn’t stay friends with them or even recall many of their faces. Whilst some of this is true due to a couple of drunken, blurry nights, I’m still good friends with quite a few people I met during the week. A few of the friends I made later on expressed some shock at this, unable to say the same thing about their own experience during Freshers’. Hooray for platonic friendships I guess!
However, when it comes to relationships and university, It’s best to pay little mind to those who think the situation is completely black and white. Which is to say, to break up OR to stay in a relationship. That’s it. No other way. Not trying to consider your own feelings and personal history. It’s easy for your friends to egg you on to do one or the other when they themselves might just be having a bit of fun stirring up the new found pot that is your life.
It’s going to end up different for everyone. I’m now in my final year, living with my boyfriend from school and a wee kitten. To me, it’s absolute bliss. For some of my friends, the long-term partner just didn’t work out and they were happier splitting up. For others, living life like you’re still in Freshers’ is what keeps them happy. And this is all fine. No one should dictate how you live your life at university. By all means, ask for some advice (and take it with a pinch of salt if this advice happens to be given out during a drunken heart to heart at a flat party) but bear in mind that no one’s experience in relationships will be exactly the same.
[Chiara Bullen – @bullieob]