Attention All Students

Hi guys!
Hope you are all well?

I graduated from the University of Essex in July with a degree in biomedical sciences (ayy 2:1 gang!) and looking at all the pictures from that day, I was reminded of what an amazing day it was and it also got me feeling nostalgic about my 3 years in uni. I had an amazing time (good, bad and ugly included), I learnt so much not just in academics but other life lessons. I gained so many skills which I know will take me far as I proceed to the next stage of my life. I did not only leave with these, I left with the best friends I could ever ask for, my brothers and sisters who were there for me in ALL situations and I know I can always count on them :)

So, it's been over month (or two? My uni always started in October but I know most start in September) since university started for both freshers and returning students and I've found myself walking down memory lane remembering my time at university especially how nervous I was when I started. This inspired me to write this post, which is just me giving some tips and advice based on my experiences (of course I understand that everyone's experiences are and will be different from mine but you know, some things might be applicable to you). I could write a book on this topic but don't worry I will spare you guys the laborious reading and will just be focusing on advice that I think is really important.

So first of all to my freshers, congratulations! You did it, you got into university (and yes this includes those who got in through clearing, you're in now it doesn't matter how!), For many of you, this is the first time you've been away from home and you might be feeling anxious and nervous about so what to expect (like me, haha I cried like a baby during freshers week because I missed home so much). Well first of all, that's completely normal and you are not alone in that respect and secondly, after a few months you'll wonder what you were so nervous about in the first place. To my returning students (don't worry, I didn't forget you haha), well done for making it to the next year! I pray that God gives you continual strength to endure and tackle all the hard work that the year entails! Continue to work hard and you will reap the fruits of your labour at graduation (yasss).

As my mother told me before starting university- "FACE YOUR BOOKS"- and I'm sure my fellow Nigerians ( tbh my fellow africans) have already been told the same thing by their parents and that is the number one most important advice I have, because at the end of the day your main reason for coming to university is so that you can leave with a degree, right? You're going to be in a huge amount of debt when you leave so you might as well make sure the debt is worth it.
And to my international students, your parents will be forking out huge amounts of money to pay your fees and also provide you with upkeep money and all they ask is that you study hard and do well (ha, simple enough right?).
Another thing my mum always says is "hard work doesn't kill" and guys it really doesn't- yes university is not a walk in the park and the work can be difficult at times but it is not impossible. I won't lie, when started uni I wasn't sure I would even be able to get 40% to pass first year(especially as I didn't get the best grades for A level) but not only did pass, I actually ended up getting a first class!
 Ain't God good? To be honest, I think university is less stressful in the sense that, exams/coursework are not set by some faceless people in some examining board office but rather by lecturers who you see everyday and who are most likely to tell you where your focus should be when studying and more importantly how they expect their questions to be answered (lol, the only time you get full attendance is during revision lectures and that's where you'll see faces that you haven't seen since the first day).
So don't worry! Just try your very best, pay attention to feedback given by your lecturers and always ask for help as soon as you need it (not at the last minute when it might be too late) and I know you will all excel (AMEN).

 University also allows you to really explore and get to know who YOU are, what your talents are, where your strengths lie, what you want to do in the future and so on and this is why it is important for you to use all the resources available to you. Your lecturers and your course departement, peer mentors, RAs (resident assistants), student union etc are just some examples of such resources available for you to make use of during your time there. Apart from studying, It is also a good idea to show some school spirit by getting involved in societies, sport teams, working for the student union- not only do these aid your self discovery but they also enable you to gain useful skills which will aid you in whatever you do in the future. Furthermore, they boost your CV and show employers that you have a personality and much more to offer than just good grades (because what's the point of having a good degree if you're not competent enough for the job role?). Another advantage is that it exposes you to a lot of people therefore allowing you to make new friends and good connections for the future.

They say the friends you make at uni are going to be your friends for life and whilst this might not be actual fact, I still agree with this because the friends I made are basically like family now and I know I can always rely on them. This is why it is really important that you chose your friends wisely, surround yourself with like minded people, people that bring out the best in you and that are always looking out for you. Good friends will call you out on your bullshit (out of love, just like your family would) and are not going to be 'Yes men' or tell you what you want to hear but rather what you need to hear. In order to find such good friends, it goes without saying that you also have to be a good person e.g. being kind, friendly, patient, selfless and so on. Don't join bad gang o!

It is easy to lose yourself, your values and what you stand for when you're in university because you're on your own and not surrounded by your family (especially your parents) who keep you grounded and have set boundaries and consequences for when you step out of line (I guess this part only applies to those who actually followed their parent's rules haha). My mum told me "don't forget where you're coming from" and I think that's pretty good advice! Going back to my previous point, this is another reason why surrounding yourself with good friends is important because they basically make it easy for you not to lose yourself (as they will probably share the same or similar values as you). Don't let other people with their negative vibe & energy and bad habits pressure you into doing things that you don't want to do or agree with, just stick to your values and continue to be yourself to be honest. Also, don't be afraid to stand up for what you believe in, and be brave enough too call out shitty behaviour when you see it because like I said, some people do lose themselves when they get to university and start like they were raised by wolves and they expect people to tolerate such behaviour! (You can tell, this point really annoys me haha)

University can be a lonely place; you could be surrounded by loads of people and still feel more lonely than you've ever felt and this can have a detrimental effect on your mental health. And we don't want that so please please please (had to say it thrice for emphasis), do not suffer in silence, talk to someone-this could be a friend, support staff on campus or even helplines such as Samaritans (call them for free on 116 123 or visit them on  It's absolutely okay to ask for help when you need it, there is no weakness in that (this is especially aimed at my guys, especially my black men)- it is not healthy to keep things to yourself and continue to sweep your problems under the carpet continuously, you'll end up breaking down in a colossal manner! And that will in turn affect how you progress in uni.
I also advise that you call home regularly and if possible try and visit often as well- trust me a visit home does a lot of good (especially after eating a good home cooked meal) and I think it brings back some of your sanity and perhaps gives you the much needed will to live and carry on with uni.

University made me realised that with a lot of independence comes a great deal of responsibility; yes, it's nice to be away from home, away from rules and it's nice to be able to do whatever you want....or is it? When I first started uni I was so gassed that I was able to sleep whenever I want, go out whenever I want for as long as I want (without having to ask anyone's permission), eat whatever I want and spend have MY own money to spend on whatever I want. But of course as I grew in age, experience and maturity, I realised that such an attitude was not sustainable and of course came with its on set of consequences. And if I'm being honest, I got a little out of control in my first year and it was clear that I was far from responsible and to be honest I was quite unhappy (even though to everyone else, I seemed like I had my life together ) but thank God for my family (going to the same uni as my brother was such a blessing) and good friends who were there to look after me AND also my priest and university chaplain who is the kindest man ever and was always there for me when I needed someone to talk to. So yeah, enjoy your new found freedom and independence but do it with sense!

My final but most important point is....GOD. I know a good number of us neglected church when we started university and we used the excuse that we were "so busy" and our schedules were "too hectic" or sometimes we were too tired from the rave we went to last night (L O L). But because of God's amazing grace, he sent me his love and mercy through my loved ones and my priest who always used to encourage me to come on church retreats, regular confession and church dinners (ahh I miss those especially!) in addition to mass. I even ran for and became the treasurer of the catholic society because of all his kindness and support. There's  a certain peace that comes from knowing God and building a relationship with him and the truth is, he loves each and every single one of us and he's just always waiting for us to accept that love so that he can change our lives for the better! Isn't that amazing?!
But I won't lie, this faith journey is not easy, the struggle is indeed real and I think that we young people (especially during uni) are vulnerable and susceptible to falling because we are surrounded by a lot of temptation and vices which are normalised and some of us are not as strong when it comes to resisting temptation (I include myself in this). Even more so, I think a lot of us shy away from a relationship with God when we are at uni because we feel like we might be "too dirty" for Christ's love so there's no point whilst some of us are so far gone in the wrong lifestyle choices we've made that at that point we don't want to get out of it. (Does that make sense?)
Nevertheless, I still urge you to find/go back to God, feed your spirit by going to church (or whatever your place of worship is, I write this from a Christian point of view cos that's what I am and I don't think it would make sense for me to speak on another religion I don't know much about). There are numerous christian societies at  university which help you connect with other like minded people and enable you to grow in your faith. They also serve as a great support system for times when you are struggling not just with your faith but with other aspects of your life.

If you made it to the end of this post, I salute you haha. I know I said the post wasn't going to be long but I write as I speak which is A LOT. But to round up this post I just want to say, enjoy your time at university, make mistakes, learn from them, use this time to grow, to find yourself, make lifelong friends and long lasting memories, let God guide you, don't be afraid to ask for help and I wish you all the best of luck!!

If any of you need advice or just want somebody to talk you at anytime, do feel free to message me on my instagram (stephoguns) or my snapchat; sogun.

Until next time guys, stay blessed and take care xx