Josh's Blog: Looking back at my time at Heriot-Watt
It's been a crazy first year of university for me. The time flashed by in a blur of “first-time” experiences, some low moments, and some incredible times I’ll remember for years to come.
My first year of university certainly wasn’t typical. I didn’t drink much, I didn’t party much, and I certainly didn’t learn much new academic content 😉. BUT, I did experience university life in all its glory for the first time and can now add that to my ever-growing list of life experiences.
September the 2nd, the day that I officially started my university career. My mum and family drove me down to Edinburgh, unpacked my life out the car boot, then waved goodbye. What follows wasn’t a drunken blur, but rather the most unpacking and setting up I’ve ever done in my life. Rewarded myself with a hefty cup of tea, before heading downstairs to the common lounge to say “Hi” and make some friends out of the melee of neighbours.
After a week of no classes and orientation, I headed excitedly to the freshers fair. I instantly signed up for a vast number of clubs and societies in my enthusiasm, instead of carefully selecting a few, and ended up ironically going to almost none of them. Part of my mis-endeavours included almost being drafted into the university handball team (despite still not knowing to this day what handball is), telling the winter sports team I’d “sign up next year” (slim odds on that one), finding myself in army uniform as a member of the University Officers Training Corps (then pulling out rather quickly with an excuse strengthened by a medical assessment I’m still waiting to get a year later), and religiously attending rowing training sessions, before realising I’ve never hated a sport more in my entire life. This all might sound extremely negative, but I loved it and still look back at the memories made in early September with a wry chuckle every now and again!
In early September I got a part-time job waiting at the Conference Centre in Edinburgh. If you (like me) aren’t receiving any/much financial support, then this will be a priority for you. My job was interesting, if not tedious, and let me see a side of corporate culture that I would never have been able to see as one of the thousand clients at a corporate dinner. Most weekday shifts saw me start early evening and get back to halls at 3 am, with lectures the next morning. Crazy times, but well worth the experience.
October went by in a blur. In a classic case of “grass is greener on the other side”, I temporarily ditched my job to take up life as Deliveroo cyclist. Riding for Deliveroo was an incredibly insightful look into the gig economy, and a great challenge, but fairly unsustainable due to a host of reasons that included horrendous weather, a 14 mile total cycle commute before even starting the work, and fluctuating wages based on customers demand, instead of riders work.
In other news, I went to Murrayfield and watched the rugby for the first time! Definitely a highlight of my time at university and would thoroughly recommend taking advantage of the fact that Scotland play their national games a mere 6 miles from our university.
November sticks out in my memory this academic year. The Edinburgh Christmas market was a lovely experience, but the most memorable part of November was signing up for a trail marathon after boldly claiming “I reckon I could totally run a marathon on no training” during an argument with my lovable flatmate. He reckoned he could too, and we signed up to prove a point to each other as well as ourselves. Except, he didn’t sign up, claiming he “forgot”, until the race had sold out. Completely unknown to me, the race turned out to be an ultra-marathon, consisting of 30 miles of running up the steepest hills in Northumberland, climbing a total of 2 vertical kilometres elevation gain. My legs hurt, my friend laughed, and I struggled to walk for the rest of the week.
December went by slowly. It was mainly a waiting game for Christmas to arrive. The double-edged sword of Christmas also brought exams along with it though, which went surprisingly well. University exams aren’t really as big a deal as students generally make them out to be in 1st year at least. If you know the course vaguely well, and revise even for a small amount of time, you’ll be well within a passing grade - stress not!
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