Gracie is 19, from Cornwall, living off campus in a university managed house, studying English Language and Creative Writing at the University of Winchester.
Photo courtesy of Gracie
What's the best thing about your uni?
For me the best thing is the people that I have met. I think that wherever you are whatever you are doing it is up to you to make the most of the situation, and choosing your friends is part of that. I think I chose well.
What's the worst?
Whilst Winchester is a beautiful place, it's a small town, near the coast and I expected to feel very much at home; however it is, in my opinion, very middle class and very conservative. I felt for a long time like the only person who had ever stepped into a second hand store, or made their own bed without the help of a maid. My slightly eccentric appearance and personality caused people in their quilted Jack Wills jackets to look down their noses at me fairly regularly but it's not so bad now. It just makes me laugh.
Have you enjoyed your first year?
I've found it very difficult. Not just the work either, but getting to know a new town, new people. I had a lot of growing up to do too. I thought of dropping out a lot of times...basically every time anything went remotely wrong. I stuck it out though, and I'm going to continue doing so.
What's your course like?
I love creative writing! It's one of the best things I have ever done, and there are aspects of English Language that I love too but it's really really hard. I've had a couple of nasty fails, but I think that I'm starting to get a better grasp of how to write a degree level essay now and when I start to do the modules that I have chosen for second year, I should start enjoying it more.
What's the best memory you've had of your first year?
That's a tricky one, there are so many! I remember being really happy in the lead up to Christmas. My best friend at uni is called Bronte and we went to two Christmas light turn-ons in two nights, and then her Nan made us Christmas dinner. That was pretty special. Also, pretty much every moment I've spend with my boyfriend has been incredibly memorable. Wondering through Southampton at 6 in the morning, barefoot in the rain, with the worst hangovers in existence, then finding our hotel, crawling into the bath and falling asleep is a night I'm not going to forget any time soon.
How would you describe your freshers week?
It was nothing special to be honest. We didn't click instantly as a house and relationships are still a little rocky.
What's the best and worst things about living off-campus?
For me the best thing is that our house is in a really convenient place, closer to town and to uni than any of the halls are. Also, our rooms are just absurdly huge. The downsides are that I think you get caught in this little house-bubble where you don't really meet new people like you would in halls. Another downside is that with our neighbours being non-students, noise is a real issue, and the one house party we've ever thrown resulted in the police being called.
Has university disappointed you or would you say it met/exceeded your expectations?
I wouldn't say that is has disappointed me, but there have been ups and downs. The ups have been higher than I have ever experienced, and the lows have been lower that I have ever experienced. I guess it all evens out in the end.
What's your best money saving tip?
Buy a hip flask!
How do you de-stress?
Use the hip flask! (No but seriously, if you're stressed all the time, don't drink all the time too because it'll only make you more stressed.) I take a walk, do some writing, call my Mum.
What advice would you give to freshers next year?
Don't listen to anyone who tells you it's going to be easy. It's going to be hard, but don't let it get to you. Just have fun and get some work done.
Just for fun:
What drinking game would you recommend to the freshers of 2013/14?
Never Have I Ever is a no-brainer.
Any embarrassing moments?
In the first week, we went to a house party at Halls and all of the buildings have big flights of metal stairs outside and I got really drunk and fell from the top to the bottom and had to be carried home.
What's your best hangover cure?
Sleep it off. Don't bother trying to do anything. You know the days a write-off.
If you'd like to know anything more about Gracie's course or the University of Winchester then contact me - firstname.lastname@example.org - and I'll put you in contact with Gracie.