Student spotlight: a session with Mia Harper, University of Huddersfield

As an 18-year-old aspiring Solicitor, I had two options… Do I go to University, or do I apply for a legal apprenticeship? Either route seemed daunting at the time, and it was the first time that I had found myself at a crossroad that would affect the rest of my life. Many University visits and applications later, I worked so hard and received the acceptance I needed to study a Law degree at the University of Huddersfield. Amazing news! I felt like nothing could stop me from achieving my life goal!

Before I knew it, it was the 5th September 2015, the big “move in” date. It was then that it hit me: I’d be moving 100 miles away from home… without my parents, my friends or the comfort of my own home.

Day 1 My mum, my grandma and my boyfriend and I drove 100 miles from the little seaside town of Cleethorpes to Huddersfield, along with two cars full of my belongings, enough food from my mum to last a lifetime and a little teddy bear that had been kissed by all of my younger cousins to say goodbye.

The typical questions of a first year student were going through my mind… What if I don’t make any friends? Will it be too difficult? How will I survive without my parents??? Well, all of the above were answered within my first two weeks of being a “Fresher”.

Day 7 Fresher’s Week was finally here! Fresher’s Week includes social events, societies and, of course, free pizza! This was a chance to get to know my new flat mates and socialise with people on my course. This answered my first question… “What if I don’t make any friends?” Until you get to University, you don’t realise how right everyone is when they say that “everyone is in the same boat.” If anyone says that to you prior to moving to University, believe them! In my flat in student halls, there were 7 girls, all of whom had moved away from home. Not one of us who knew anybody else! So, we all grouped together as a flat and headed to the Fresher’s Festival. This was an amazing night where I actually realised that these girls would be friends for life, so much so that I’ve been on some amazing trips with them including Berlin, Switzerland and Thailand. I couldn’t have been more wrong when I thought that I wouldn’t make any friends- I have met some of my best friends for life at University.

Day 14 My first day at University! The day consisted of receiving module handbooks, buying course books and trying to keep up writing lecture notes. I thought to myself, this is it, this is the start of the rest of my life, the foundation of my legal career. I made a promise to myself that I was going to write up my lecture notes neatly after every lesson, keep my folders tidy, and read every chapter of the books like we were told to. However, the reality didn’t always work out that way…

Day 21 Three weeks of being a Fresher and I began to miss home. It was at this point that the question “How will I survive without my parents?” really came into play. I had to do my own shopping, cleaning, washing and not forgetting the budgeting! My parents were only a FaceTime away and knowing how proud they were of me made it all worthwhile. Yes, of course I missed my parents but I also felt an overwhelming sense of independence that I’ve never felt before. It helped that the rest of the flat were all feeling the same emotions that I was, so we would help each other.

End of my Degree Now that I have finished my undergraduate Law degree, I can say from experience that throughout University I have struggled and worried but all of those stressful times suddenly begin to seem tiny compared to the amazing friends I have met, the amazing times I have had and the massive achievement of having a degree! I would not change my University experience in the slightest, I have developed social, academic and independence skills that I will use for the rest of my life.

Now, I’m not going to lie and say that the answer to my second question, “Will it be too difficult?”, turned out not to be true. I think that in life, lots of things can be difficult and you just have to try and deal with them appropriately. Of course initially, I found my degree difficult- if it wasn’t a challenge it wouldn’t be worth doing! I definitely did not keep up with writing my notes out neat after every lesson or even keep up with all of the in-depth reading required. However, I did work super hard and did the best I possibly could and three years later… I have confirmed a First Class Honours Law Degree! I have also met my best friend on my course, whom I now share a house with and I have travelled to Vienna with. Some of the best times of my life have been at University.

Mia Harper