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The existential crisis of being a 19-year-old student


… and some tips on how to solve it

Well, we are officially halfway through the first semester folks, and since I’m a first-year student, I thought to myself “wouldn’t it be fun to reflect back?” Well to be perfectly honest, no. But jokes aside, I was genuinely so ecstatic to join Loughborough University; society has deemed us smart enough to nurture our minds with further fertile knowledge rather than send us off to work in a salt mine. And when I first took my initial steps onto campus, I thought I had entered some sort of strange utopia where supermodels and modernism coexisted into a seamless synthesis of futurism and optimism; until about a couple of days later, when I had one of the biggest existential crises of my life.

Just like anything else in life, every problem comes from a range of sources and it’s rather foolish to boil it down to a single reason; but to save this article from being 20 pages long and getting uncomfortably intimate, I thought it would seem more elegant to centre my thoughts on others instead. I am currently 19 and my birthday is in September, so it won’t be long until my age rhymes with “smelly”, but I digress – everyone else is older! I think I have met a grand total of 5 people that are the same age as me.

I suppose it’s something to get over, which obviously I have, since I’m relaxed enough to write about it in my own overthought, idiosyncratic way of writing. And I understand that age is just a number and it’s rather shallow to think otherwise, but when I’m just a skinny kid fresh from college and everyone else is a confident and experienced 20-something-year-old that looks like a supermodel, I do question my own existence as a corporeal being. I hope my attitude doesn’t sound too hostile, but the point that I’m trying to raise is that, for the introverts that are still feeling the symptoms of these worries, I have an answer!

This may seem obvious but the answer is work – just work and be productive. When you’re down, or just uncomfortable, it’s so easy to procrastinate even the easiest tasks, but just contributing to your work by writing even a sentence adds a great deal of goodness and warmth to the seemingly never-ending coldness of loneliness. And if you’re far better than I am, because you have better intrinsic work ethic then, well, to try and save my own relevance, my other advice would be to feel open enough to communicate with others. I remember despite feeling the positive atmosphere all around the university from all the 20-something year-olds, I felt more reclusive than ever because I literally didn’t recognise anyone and I was anxious that other people would simply crush me in a social context. But truth be told, when I stopped brooding in my room, went out and joined societies (I’m not really a night person), I didn’t meet a single person that hasn’t been nice.

Literally everybody has had to succeed to get here. So in other words, the over-indulgent mean jerks that were there during your earlier education years have been filtered out, everyone else is a variation of you. So, for anyone who’s still rather introverted and reclusive, I want to say that it’s not too late to feel at home. The people here will eventually be your friends, you just have to let them (even if they’re 20-something-year-olds who look like supermodels).

-By Leo Li


Student Struggles: Freshers’ Flu


As an international student, I was greeted by an exclusively UK phenomenon when I first came to Loughborough – the “freshers’ flu.” It sucks! And I bet most of you have already experienced the same thing I have.

I started cowering under my bed covers and feeling absolutely rotten, right after the crazy night I had following the Sing-off. I kind of made it through my Freshers’ week, at least I could simply lie on my bed and sleep, doing nothing before 9pm, when my lazy day would turn into another crazy night. However, with me taking zero medication, as well as having a cheeky kiss or two on nights out, the nasty flu seemed to get stronger and stronger, while I was getting worse and worse.

What’s the worst thing about having freshers’ flu? To me, the early lectures. I had the most rubbish week I have ever had – suffering from dreaded hangovers, staying up till 5am due to the deadly headache and dry cough, followed by lectures at 9 the next morning. I felt like this flu was tearing me apart or, to be more accurate, tearing ‘us’ apart. You know exactly what I’m talking about if you have ever experienced the ‘symphony of cough’ during lectures.

As freshers’ flu has become my best friend during the past five weeks, I felt the need to do everything I could to avoid this nasty side effect of the parties and nights out I had been attending. After all, we were slowly starting to get bombarded by tons of coursework and tests. So I googled it and, unsurprisingly, there was only one conclusion to be made – freshers’ flu could not be cured.

There were 3 suggested cures on the web. First, you have to eat healthy, which is nearly impossible for us, catered freshers, because fried chicken, pizza, fries – you name it, are all we have available to us. The next one advised to make sure your surroundings are clean. Well, maybe this one applies to me, as I still have an unwashed bowl and spoon sitting right in front of my laptop. What a mess I am! Lastly, which I believe is the most practical one, Google claims you should drink more hot water.

Well, over the five rubbish weeks that passed, I tried my best to follow these cures and I am slowly starting to get better now. But if you ask if I hate freshers’ flu, I will definitely say no. I mean, it’s the best start-up topic for any conversation, which is rather important for making friends. It also helps to build a sense of belonging between you and your fellow course mates when you are part of the ‘song of cough’ during lectures.

Do you feel that way too?

-By Vivian Lee


Student Struggles – What 5pm lecture?


Its getting colder by the day and the brief walk to campus seems to be so much longer and takes more effort than it did at the start of term…

I’m halfway through the latest binge session of my latest Netflix obsession and there’s 10 mins left until the end of this episode but lecture starts in 20 mins. Hmmmm. It’s icy cold outside and I’ve made such a cosy pillow fort. In fact the clocks have just turned back, is that the sun I see disappearing under the horizon? I’ll have to walk to my lecture in the dark. It’s only an hour’s worth of teaching anyway and I can pretty much guarantee the notes and lecture slides will all be put up online…

My stomach turns and is growling loudly. It’s practically dinnertime and I’m so hungry I should be starting to cook soon. Nobody should have to work this late; doesn’t the normal working day end at 5pm? It’s a bit much for them to expect a student to turn up to lectures at this time of the day or in fact night has already fallen.

Oops I’ve been procrastinating for 5 minutes and have missed what’s been happening on the TV. If I leave now I’ll almost certainly be late and having to sneak through the front whilst the lecturer’s talking to find a seat all by myself. Now that I’ve paused my episode I may as well fetch myself a cup of tea for the last 10 minutes of viewing? I’ll just make sure I go next week …

– Emma Morgan


The Modern Student: Jack of all trades


Let me walk you through my day. After what I can only describe as a two hour NAP, I get up at 5am, scramble for some coffee in the dark and throw a handful of pre-cut sweet potatoes in a pot on the stove. I will be on campus all day and there are only so many Nakd bars one can substitute meals with. I rush upstairs and recover my half closed laptop from under the bed – was evidently too tired to get up and place it on my desk before I fell asleep. No. ‘Fell asleep’ implies intent. ‘Ceased resisting the urge to pass out’ – better. I spend the next half hour revising my essay, due by noon. Shower. Get Dressed. Pack my bag. As I attempt to cover the dark circles under my eyes, I notice the various beige blotches on the keyboard of my beloved Mac – remnants of another day of rushed preparations.

Suddenly, a deafening sound pierces the silence and I knock my coffee over. Goodbye notes. As you likely predicted, it is the fire alarm, issuing a gentle reminder that my lunch is burning. I conjure images of flatmates substituting the contents of my shampoo bottle with hair removal cream, cringe and carry on. Eventually I make it to the library. The ‘couple of tweaks’ end up with me awkwardly speed-walking towards Herbert Manzoni, in order to successfully submit my paper with all of 4 minutes to spare. Brief relief… But my day has only just begun.

Lectures. Emails about upcoming meetings. Meetings that could have been e-mails. Double shifts at work. The truth is I spend 5 to 6 hours a week in lectures or seminars. I spend more than twice that time (a VERY conservative estimate) on campus, in capacities related to extracurricular activities or my part-time job. I won’t bore you with the specifics. Odds are you, yourself, religiously show up to training for one sport or another, sit on a RAG/Hall/Departmental committee and flip burgers at McDonalds a couple of times a week for an extra buck. But this is precisely my point. Students nowadays are stretched thin.

The “transferable skills” mantra is drilled into us from our first day at University – a diploma is no longer enough. Today, majority of young people are streamlined into University, where every effort is made to shovel as many of us out with a 2:1 as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely believe everyone should have access to education (and not for the price of £9,000 either but that is a different rant). Undeniably, however, the competition for jobs and other opportunities is fiercer than ever. So we take on that extra role, we give up that extra time and hour of sleep. We end up constantly wired, stressed, and burned out.

Most days I feel like I am failing at most roles I am meant to be performing. On a continuous loop. It feels like I am forever pushing a massive rock up a hill, only to find respite in sleep and discover that very same rock back at the bottom of that very same hill the next morning. So, occasionally, I call it quits, slap some red lipstick on and hit up FND with my friends. The photographer inevitably takes an unflattering snap that makes it to my newsfeed and I wake up to my mum having commented “Do you ever even make it into Uni?” on Facebook.

The sheer audacity.

By Natali Dimitrova, Features Editor


Student Struggles: Car-tastrophe


Bringing your car to Uni seemed like a good idea…

I’ve moved on from halls to town and have spent the entire summer driving myself around in my car. It seemed like a good idea to bring my car up; I can drive home after term finishes and bring in bigger shopping trips.

Then I realise I am at an extremely high risk of collecting a parking ticket, and have to purchase an expensive parking permit (£50!!) to park in town. Which takes at least 3 days to come. But this permit to park in town does seem useful, I can cruise over to pre’s at my friend’s house without facing the dark cold winter or encounters with roaming clowns. But then it becomes apparent there are ridiculous amounts of parking zones across Loughborough and I live in Kingfisher whilst they live in the student triangle.

However at least I can count on shopping trips to Aldi, living slightly out of town it’s been impractical until now, saving precious pennies. Wait, Aldi has been closed for a month? Trips to Sainsbury’s to load the boot don’t seem quite so worth it…

Petrol prices keep rising! I only wanted to fill my tank to go home for this weekend and it’s costing me more than at least a weeks worth of alcohol.

The lecture hall is really so close and to drive carries the chance of being caught parked on campus by security. I wonder how many times the security guy will believe I’m only here visiting a friend. Is it actually even any quicker driving when I have to drive all the way around and through town everyday?

At least there is one definite benefit! I can drive to Leicester to go shopping and even Nottingham to go to the Christmas market.

What?! You mean the overall cost of a bus or train ticket is cheaper than car parking?


Emma Morgan – Features Editor

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