Throughout my secondary school years, it had always been a dream of mine to study journalism at the University of Salford’s MediaCityUK campus. The facilities, the course, and its idyllic location among industry giants such as BBC and ITV, had all been a draw for me ever since I realised journalism was a career path; I wished to pursue. An accidental, yet convenient by-product was its short journey from my home.
In January 2018, I was lucky enough to receive an offer to study at my dream university and I am now in my final year – yet my decision to commute has always felt a little controversial. For many, going to university and moving away from home go hand-in-hand. They are one and the same.
I am a sociable girl who enjoys a night out. However, the party and club scene never really appealed to me. Sometimes I tend to be a little bit more reserved, I am a homebird deep down, and never felt ready to take the plunge – and I also knew I was not about to make myself unhappy and succumb to the societal pressure.
At the beginning, 17-year-old me felt incredibly insecure about my decision. Instead of shouting my pride in achieving my goals from the rooftops, I would dread discussions around university plans. My palms would sweat, and my face would redden, as I justified not doing the “normal” thing and moving into student accommodation.
It is a weird mixture of emotions. Although deep-down, I always knew I was doing what was right for me, somewhere inside me was this fear that I would be missing out on the full “student experience” and would struggle to make friends.
Three years down the line, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. The way I see it, I have had the best of both worlds – the ability to come away from university and concentrate on doing my work to the best of my ability, but to also participate socially as and when I want or am able to. My decision to stay at home personally allowed me to thrive, and I feel incredibly lucky that the location of the university I longed to attend has afforded me that opportunity.
Being open and getting involved with the university has meant that I have made plenty of friends and am now even the Student Representative for my course. The bond I have with people is perhaps not as deep as it would have been as if I had shared a flat or house (I also think the Covid-19 pandemic has a lot to answer for with that), but I still have people who I spend time with, to have a laugh with and to share worries with – and that means a lot!
As I have got older, I have become prouder of my decision, and the more people I have spoken to, the more I have noticed just how many there are in the same position. People should do what they find suits them the most. Whether that be moving out, living at home full-time, or a mixture of both.
Some people are still hard to convince though. I sometimes even get the impression that people forget I go to university because of it. Everybody is just doing what makes them the happiest or what is perhaps necessary for their situation. It does not make them any more or less of a “student”.
I feel as though we must rewrite this narrative of the “student experience”. Time at university comes in many shapes and sizes and your student experience is what you make it!
My name is Kathryn Austin, and I am in my third year of studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford. I have always had a strong passion for writing and am hoping to enter into a career within the Journalism or Publishing industry. In my spare time I love to spend time with my family and friends, enjoy travelling and reading, as well as having keen interests in film, fashion, history, and current affairs.