This is the second post in this series of posts about making the transition from university life to 'the real world'. You can find the first post, about starting out at university here. I've been outside of the student lifestyle for about 8 months now, and I've had the fortune of finding a job that works well for me. But it always takes time to adjust to a new stage in your life, so here are a few of the major changes I've noticed since I left university, mostly for the better!
Fewer people your own age in the workplace
Unless you're recruited as part of a company with a huge graduate program or you work in some sort of start up or digital tech business, you probably won't find too many people your own age in the workplace. This can be a good thing and it can be a bad thing. By mixing with people of different age groups you get new perspectives on things and get to see the bigger picture outside of the student bubble we've all been living in for the last few years.
The downside is that, because you are at completely different life stages to most people, it can be more difficult to connect initially. Although, I've found that after a while you can overcome this initial boundary and make friends quite quickly once you find some common ground!
Unlike when studying at University, it's fairly unlikely that you will work within walking distance of your home. So you'd better be prepared for a fairly lengthy commute. Mine is about an hour, with 25 mins walking and 35 mins on the train (if everything is running on time). That's a pretty good commute from what I've heard, and most of it is spent moving, which helps you to feel like you're not wasting time during your commute.
One recent study found that walkers had a significantly less stressful commute compared with travelling by car- followed by people who used public transport. Interestingly, the most enjoyable part of the commute for people using public transport were the short walks between transport links! If you do get stuck in traffic on the bus or your train is delayed, you can just sit back and read a good book.
I've been enjoying the DiscWorld novels by Terry Pratchett and I'm about half way through the entire DiscWorld collection since I started working in June! Obviously this is not possible for everyone, but if you can avoid the extra stress it is well worth the money and, depending on your route, it may be even cheaper than driving.
The way my free time has changed is quite drastic. As a student, free time was just time when I wasn't studying or doing something productive. This could have been lying in, chilling out during the day or staying up into the small hours of the morning or binge watching something on Netflix and generally being lazy.
I've since realised that this kind of prolonged procrastination is only enjoyable when there is something else you should be doing instead! Because now, although I have less free time, a lot more of it is time when I can freely do whatever I want. That means that things like binge watching, video gaming and generally slobbing out are still enjoyable, but not for the entirety of my free time. These things no longer have that sense of guilty pleasure, and I feel like I'm not 'making the most' of my free time when I use up all of it on these guilty pleasures.
Along the same lines, it will become more difficult to meet up with all those friends you made at uni. It suddenly becomes less desirable to go out on a tuesday night when you have a meeting with your boss at 9am the next morning! this means that your weekends will now be a precious resource, and you'll find yourself having to decide between family, friends and generally running your own life - incidentally why is nothing useful ever open after 5pm!?!?!
Now that I'm no longer a student, I've said goodbye to those wonderfully long holiday periods. But I don't miss them as much as I thought I would. This is because I no longer have to take ANY EXAMS!!!
This Christmas was the first since 2007 that I have not had to revise for exams over the holiday period! So although my Christmas break didn't last for 4 weeks this year, what holiday I did have was taken in the knowledge that I am truly on holiday; without the black cloud of January exams looming ahead.
I loved my time at university; the friends, the freedom, mixing with different people and ideas. But I am also, oddly, excited about this new stage in my life; where free time is something to be cherished, and holidays are actual holidays (not just another time when you should probably be studying!). I will certainly miss a lot about university, but I think 4 years there was plenty for me.