Lately I've been giving motivational talks to year 12 students, as well as marking some work and offering general advice. It brought back a lot of memories from last year, especially the fabled "university experience".
The university experience is something everyone is supposed to have access to, and want. It's the clubbing, pub crawls, late nights, hungover classes and coasting on a pass. As a year 12 student you're meant to be hanging out to turn 18 and start uni so you can do all of these 'wonderful' things.
My university campus really doesn't have this vibe, and I don't want this "university experience" anyway.
I drive for hours on little road trips to see my friends. I watch corny movies with them. I make desserts and binge on chocolate dipped strawberries and brownies.
I go to their performances; I celebrate their birthdays at cafes.
I hang out with them at uni and do nothing.
I hang out with them at uni and study.
We have a "floating library" where we swap fiction books with each other for fun.
We talk online pretty much every day.
I don't drink much because a) my blood sugar doesn't react well, b) I'm the lightest of light-weights and c) I don't like losing control.
Does that mean I'm not having the university experience?
Nope. This is my university experience. It's full of webcam chats for last minute cramming, road trips, study sessions and food.
I don't need that other one, and that is perfectly ok!
So many people get pressured into conforming to this idea, to going on all night benders when really they don't want to be there. People drinking way too much way too often because "it's what uni kids do".
It doesn't have to be, and it can put people with chronic illness in a bit of a pickle if alcohol isn't very compatible with your condition.
You have a choice, university is what you make of it. If you want to party then party. If you want to sing along with disney films instead, then sing your heart out.