Sunday, 27 September 2015

What To Expect From Your Student's First Term at University ...

So you've finally packed your 18 year old bundle of joy off for their first year at university and maybe it feels like the final step on what has been a hard road so far...

First of all your child had to choose a university to apply to and spent literally minutes completely ignoring glossy prospectuses. And there were visits to arrange to universities, chosen purely on the length of the student union bar and whether the accommodation had an en-suite. And going to university open days: hours and hours of schlepping around campus after campus when you'd much rather be checking out the local shopping centre. Purely for research purposes, obviously.

And then there were the exams and all that accompany them: the nerves, the worry, the sleepless nights, tears and heavy drinking.

Though, to be fair, your would-be university student probably felt a bit nervous about them too.

Then the wait. The long, long, long, loooong wait until the results are in and your would-be student becomes a real, live student and promptly starts drawing up lists of  'essential' items required for their upcoming first year that would cheerfully clothe, feed and cater for a family of six. You buy everything on the list, and then some more, just in case.

Then the delivery of your student to their strange new home in a new strange town when finally, after you've unpacked, fussed, flapped, hugged goodbye and smiled bravely, you can climb back into the car to drive back to a now strangely empty house and have (yet another) little cry.

(By this time you've cried a lot, and not always in a good way).

It might feel like a break in your parenting road, the end of a chapter but only because there's another chapter to come though this one has more action and adventure and comes with a parental guidance sticker attached.

At first you can expect to worry endlessly about whether they're happy, coping, settling in, making friends, sleeping, eating, drinking too much and, depending on your student, attending to their personal hygiene. You're totally incapable of making a meal to feed the number of people you're now supposed to be feeding and every time the phone rings you run to grab it.

Student in a shopping trolley
Snapchat sent from Daughter2 in her
first year at uni. Probably about 3am 
A few weeks into term you learn to turn your phone notifications to silent before going to bed because when you said to them 'Call me anytime,' they decided to take it literally and keep Facetiming at 3am to share their drunken joy at learning to slutdrop. Or twerk. Or down half a bottle a vodka without throwing up.

Halfway through term you stop answering the phone in the day as well. There are only so many times you can tell someone how to work a washing machine/ turn on an iron/ boil an egg/ remove red wine stains from a carpet/ get vomit off the ceiling or how to return last night's transport back to the supermarket without being caught; you reached that in week three.

Meanwhile you have to take almost daily trips to the Post Office to send off yet another essential something they need, despite being under the impression that they already had every essential essential they could possibly want when they arrived. You draw the line at sending a new loo roll special delivery and send them a map to the nearest supermarket instead.

But then you have to transfer them money anyway because it turns out they spent their entire grant cheque in the first week of Freshers on new clothes, improbably flavoured cider, vodka and takeaways though they will claim it mainly went on course books. It didn't.

By the end of term you've learnt to have Google permanently open every time you speak to your student so you can a) understand what the hell they're talking about and b) help them with their homework, because now they insist on thinking that you can despite rejecting every single offer of help for the past seven years.

And finally, at last you master the art of cooking for the number of mouths you have left to feed.....Just in time for your student to come home for the Christmas holidays.

Next week: What To Expect When Your Student Comes Home For The Holidays

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