5 things first year has taught me

Since I have now completed my first year at university, I thought I’d write a post summarising a few key things I’ve learnt over the past 9 months. University is a big change, a daunting step to take, but – at least for me – has also been one of the most enriching experiences. And I’m only 1/4 of the way through, so hopefully I’ll keep learning and developing as a person.


One of the first lessons I learnt at uni was probably the importance of balance. It’s so easy to say yes to everything, and between sport, socialising and studying, sleep can often be sacrificed. However, this is an unsustainable lifestyle that ultimately leads to burnout. If, like me, you’ve experienced this (both emotional and physical), you’ll know that it’s not a pleasant thing. It’s exhaustion squared, exponentially rising fatigue that completely drains you of energy and joy. After a bit of trial and error, I managed to find a balance that works for me in second semester, and can honestly say I am so much better for it. Thriving rather than merely surviving, as clichéd as that sounds. You can’t do everything, and it’s a matter of prioritising and staying in tune with your body’s signals.


Not the yogi-type, but the metaphorical strain. Going to university implies a huge shift that encompasses all aspects of your life. Humans are creatures of habit, which is why such changes can often be overwhelming and we tend to rely on structure to govern our lives. Nevertheless, going to uni has taught me to move away from such rigidity and embrace change. This flexibility, in all aspects of my life (food, training, socialising, studying) has enabled me to forge lasting friendships, have some incredible experiences and adapt to a variety of circumstances. Rather than declining an invitation because of training, I’ve learnt to be flexible and, consequently, not miss out on things. I’m not saying you have to overhaul your life to be in involved in everything, but maintaining a level of flexibility helps garner a sense of community and prevents rigidity in your life.

photo from harie hol

For me, perspective has been a key lesson at university. Moving away from home and the bubble I lived in there, I have been exposed to so many different people, cultures and ways of life. Subsequently, this has allowed me to gain a new perspective on a variety of things, and realise that, ultimately, a lot of my concerns aren’t as serious as I initially perceive them to be. This isn’t to undermine anyone’s struggles, but more to highlight that we blow a lot of our worries out of proportion and get anxious when, really, there is no need to. I can’t run because the weather is absolutely sh*ite? No biggie, I’ll swim or just leave it for tomorrow. I have to cancel on my friend because I’m exhausted? I’ll apologise and reschedule. Honestly, there’s no point on constantly torturing ourselves over things that, in the grand scheme, aren’t important. Quite a liberating revelation if I’m honest!


You might have seen me mention an “attitude of gratitude” on my Instagram already, and I’m going to reiterate it here. At uni, I have learnt to appreciate so much more what my parents have done and continue to do for me. I think that moving away from home makes you realise this more than anything. Then there’s being grateful for all the opportunities you have at university; joining an array of clubs, meeting inspiring people and learning something new every single day. I am so incredibly thankful for the group of girls that I have met (my #tribe), and I don’t think they realise how amazing they all are. Gratitude has really helped me become more connected with myself and my surroundings, forcing me to notice the little things and appreciate all of them.

my polaroids from this year

Finally comes patience. I’ve always been a “go-go-go” kind of person, moving from project to project and speeding through life. First year, especially second semester, has taught me to slow down and stop rushing things. More specifically, I’m talking about my experience with RED-S, amenorrhea and injury. You can’t cut corners with these, and, instead, I have been rewarded for my perseverance and patience. We need to have a bit of faith in our journey and trust that, with time and effort, we will arrive at our goals. Time heals and patience rewards. I’m reminding myself that everyday.

Edinburgh or Athens?

I hope that you’ve found this post insightful, and maybe it has inspired you to incorporate some of these lessons into your own life.

Emma ♥♥