Written by Rean Rehman.

Photo Credit: bantersnaps on Unsplash

I still remember my very first day at university. It was sometime in late September 2018, I was at DMU for the first time as a student (I had already been to the campus before on an open day).

Being the first time I caught the train to Leicester (something which would become a regular ritual for me in coming time), I didn’t know where the train station was, or where the uni was. I even missed my train back home to Birmingham because I went on the wrong platform.

Now in my final year as an undergraduate, I’ve been finding myself contemplating the past few years and how I’ve changed as a person and the role university has played. Indeed, it has played a large role.

While already coming across many diverse people in life, my time at uni has amplified that considerably. I have met and become friends with people I probably wouldn’t have do so, had I not gone to university. Some who may very well be life long friends. People from diverse backgrounds, people with diverse political opinions and much more. I have met people from all kinds of cultures, countries, areas, towns and so much more. The teachers have overwhelmingly been among the best I have come across so far in life, miles better than school or college. The uni atmosphere and vibe is unrivalled. Things are laidback and fun but serious at the same time, it’s a good balance.

Such diversity has allowed me to gain insight about issues and life, and the ability to look at things from different angles. Indeed, where I may have been somewhat close-minded before, I can confidently say that has definitely been reversed. In many ways, I feel like university life is a microcosm of life in a way as a whole, but also the final step to becoming a proper adult. After uni, it really does feel like we’re all about to be fed to dogs in an unforgiving world.

The city of Leicester has become a second home in a way and as such, I have developed an attachment to it. Although saying that, I haven’t been to Leicester for a year now due to COVID, and probably won’t do so for a while. However, Leicester will always hold a special place in my heart for the rest of my life even though I’m a commuter and have never actually lived in the city. If anything, I was essentially a part time Chissit but still.

There are also some trivial things with regards to how uni has changed me. For example, I have now have an addiction to Wetherspoons, forged through countless visits while I was at uni. I’ve grown to have an affection for train travel, forged through regular commuting and the regular subservience of my bank account towards CrossCountry (I could fund a trip around the world with the money I’ve had to give them).

Reflecting on myself, I can say that over my time at university, I have definitely grown as a person. Looking back now, I was somewhat immature, naive and in many ways, felt lost in this world. In some ways, I still feel I do. But university has made me realise that people like me aren’t unordinary and that I’m not an abnormally strange person. As such, I feel more accepted as a individual. I have also undergone many experiences in life, both negatives and positives. And one thing they have in common is that they have tested me and have built me as a person. If I had to speak to who I was in 2018, I can see that the depth as a person I have now was lacking then.

I can’t lie, there have been downsides to uni as well but overall, it has mostly been a positive experience. I will definitely miss it and I will miss these times. It’s a one of a kind experience in life and in many ways I sometimes feel I could have made the most of these years better. If I look overall I think I’m happy with how things have turned out and it changed me as a person. Indeed, changing into a better and wiser person is amongst the best things you could ask for.