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16 In lifestyle/ Open University/ ramblings

How it Feels to Be The One Who Stayed | Missing Out on ‘The University Experience’

To be honest it seems slightly strange to write about being the ‘one who stayed’ when I’m currently sat in a cosy seafront cottage watching the sunset over the Welsh coast.  Because y’know, however much I wish I did, I don’t actually live here.  Sob.  So ‘The One Who Stayed’ is actually ‘The One Who Stayed Most of the Time and Goes on Last Minute Trips When Possible’.  Close enough.


Anyhow, I’m only one month into life as a distance learning student/blogger/whatever the hell I am, but I thought I’d have a chat about how my decision’s made me feel so far.   Bar the actual Open University specific stuff – saving that for another post.


For starters, it’s weird describing ‘what you do’ when you’re at home most days.  I mean, obviously I’m a full time student by nature of studying 120 credits in one year, but I don’t quite feel like I am.  Daft, I know.  Probably just because I still kinda associate ‘student’ with actually sitting in a classroom, which I’ve only done 3 times.  So far the content’s been reasonably easy and hasn’t taken me full-time hours either, so I don’t quite feel like a full-time student just yet even though I’m submitting assignments and stuff.  Even when walking around the University of Manchester campus for a tutorial I felt like a fraud student lol.  It’s weird.

I spend loads of time on my blog (and yet still don’t manage tons of posts… quick writers how U do dis???) but I’m not a full-time blogger.  Full-time bloggers make full-time salaries (and I obviously don’t) but the flexibility of what I’m doing means I can kinda act like one, to test the waters.  Mainly with travel blogging; being a full-time student who can pack her bags and go away at short notice has worked out pretty well so far!  Getting my foot in the travel blogging door was one of my main goals for this year, and with a couple more trips left before the end of the year still, I can say I’m very happy to be on my way there.  So yeah, I don’t feel like a newbie blogger and with the time invested it’s way more than a hobby, but I’m not full-time either.  Again, it’s weird.



As for the actual ‘staying at home and not going to uni’ part, there are a few things I’ve realised.

Not everybody actually goes away.  Despite the fact that you’re told university is the be all and end all a million times over, more people have actually done different things and stuck around near home for one reason or other.  Shock horror, university life isn’t for everybody!

Motivation isn’t difficult.  I was warned a bajillion times that motivating myself to work whilst home alone during the day would be difficult, but I haven’t struggled with motivation at all.  Procrastination though?  Whole ‘nother story.  I don’t struggle to motivate myself to get started, I just struggle not to get distracted by ‘Ooh look a twitter notification and how about I make a brew and whilst I’m at it the dishwasher needs emptying’.  I am such a wild child, can you tell?

Jealous times happen, but so do ridiculously grateful ones.  Yep, seeing my friends away having so much fun, so many crazy nights, and meeting a constant supply of new people makes me a lil’ bit jelly sometimes.  Always works out that everybody else’s lives seem most interesting when yours is at its dullest too, obviously.  But the experiences I can have (that I wouldn’t if I’d gone away to university), are 100% worth it.  I’m ridiculously glad to have made the decision I did and hopefully there will be more new fun experiences to come!

I’m not missing out on learning to look after myself.  No, I’m not learning what it’s like to miss home for long periods of time and not have your mum and dad downstairs to talk to.  But it’s not like being at home means I don’t know how to cook, clean, do washing, blah blah blah – I still have to do all that adulting stuff, just for 4 people not 1.  So y’know.

Everyone is at different stages of adulting now.  It’s odd when you realise that people you went to school with seem to be at such different stages in life now.  Some are at uni, some have full-time jobs, some have moved out into their own place, one or two even have a baby – varying amounts of adulting going on!  Sometimes I feel like a proper grown up and sometimes I do such stupid things that I question whether I’m mentally still 7.  But that probably isn’t going to change any time soon.  Will be an idiotic 80 year old and proud. 😀


So that’s a little life update brought to ya from Wales.  I’d be interested to hear what other people living slightly unconventional lives think – do you feel like a drifting this/that/the other?

lily kate x

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  • Reply
    3rd November 2016 at 8:08 am

    I was really interested to read this as I felt like the one who stayed behind on my gap year. It was a completely unplanned gap year (didn’t get the grades basically) and I was so miserable as I’d desperately wanted to go away and then had to sit and watch as all my friends went and had the “uni experience”. But actually, my gap year rocked – staying at home meant I had the funds to go away and do a little travelling and when I got to uni, I realised it’s really not all it’s made out to be! It’s great that you have the blog at the same time, I wish I’d had mine back then as it would have been such a distraction (and I did so many blogworthy things in that time, dammit!) xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua | Life, Travel, Italy

    • Reply
      Lily Kate France
      3rd November 2016 at 10:54 pm

      I’m glad it was interesting and hopefully not too much waffle! I can imagine it was really difficult if you’d had in mind that you’d be away too – I never planned to go to university so am just living the life I expected. I bet your friends were jealous of your gap year perks too though!
      As for blogging, I’m SO glad that I started at 15 and it became a big enough part of my life to influence my decisions so early. Although I had a particularly blog-worthy summer the year before I started too haha, dammit!
      As always, thank you so much for commenting <3

  • Reply
    3rd November 2016 at 9:37 am

    Hear hear! Oh I identify with this so much, just on the other side of university! Whilst everyone else went to do Masters and grad schemes, I had a gap year, learnt to drive and have had temporary jobs instead. My whole plan has made a 180 degree turn since graduating and my ‘gap year’ before finding what career I want to do has extended a little longer than expected, which initially freaked me out as it’s SO easy to see on Facebook what everyone else is doing and feeling like I’m not going anywhere! But I’m enjoying having the freedom to do a bit of travelling around the country, have the time with my family, and I’ve recently been accepted to start a Masters program next September so a plan is definitely starting to form!

    • Reply
      Lily Kate France
      3rd November 2016 at 11:01 pm

      <3 <3 <3 I bet leaving university comes with it's own confusing feelings whilst you find your feet! Trying out a bunch of things rather than ploughing into something you're not sure about seems like a really good idea. I still need to learn to drive sometimes haha.
      You're doing really well! And I'm sure people are jealous of your travelling around the country too.
      Ooh exciting! What will your masters be in?

  • Reply
    3rd November 2016 at 9:55 am

    Oh, I’m 25 and still struggling with the ‘real’ adult life. 😀 Not satisfied with 5/7 jobs, not too confident to open up my own business or smth so I don’t have to do those 5/7 jobs. :/ BUT I really love to read that there are unconventional people out there as well. 😉 Plus, really waiting on that post about Open University. 🙂 I think I’ve missed it, but what did you choose to study?
    Wishing you well
    (and your pictures are craaazyy adorable as always!! How do you do that? 😉 )

    • Reply
      Lily Kate France
      3rd November 2016 at 11:05 pm

      That gives me hope that you never really need to feel like an ‘adult’ anyway haha 🙂 Maybe starting your own business part time could be a less scary start? (I have confidence you’ll be able to do it anyway!)
      I’ll definitely share my OU post soon! I’m studying BSc Mathematics and Physics. But… I’ve always liked the idea of doing an astrophysics degree, and the OU Astronomy and Planetary Sciences course has an identical first year to the course I’m currently doing. So technically I could change courses after the first year and specialise in astrophysics! Decisions, decisions…
      Thank you about the photos! We honestly couldn’t have had a better photo location in Wales, we took SO many photos. Beautiful place!

  • Reply
    3rd November 2016 at 7:44 pm

    My two best friends went away to university last year, so I can relate to what you’re feeling. I was never going to be clever enough to go onto higher education, but have come to realise that university wouldn’t have been right for me anyway – I have suffered from anxiety issues for years and don’t think I could have coped with all the new people and situations.
    Looking forward to finding out how you’re getting on with your Open University course, I hope you’re enjoying it!
    I’m personally glad your blog is still ‘part-time’, so many of the bloggers I used to love now only seem to post when they have something to advertise which, unfortunately, seems to be what happens to full-time bloggers.
    Take care, love Pixie xxx

    • Reply
      Lily Kate France
      3rd November 2016 at 11:09 pm

      I’m so glad people can relate to me! Sometimes university life just doesn’t suit you and I think it’s important for more educational leaders to realise that.
      I’m really enjoying my course so far – I have a pretty busy November ahead so will need to be very organised to keep on top of study so wish me luck!
      I can understand how full-time bloggers end up like that when they depend on sponsored content to make a living, and I don’t actually mind sponsored posts if they suit the blogger’s style anyway. Can make you question the authenticity when every single post is sponsored though, I agree! Hopefully I’ll be able to tow the line over the next few years.
      Thank you so much for stopping by Pixie!

  • Reply
    3rd November 2016 at 10:28 pm

    As someone who is currently in second year at uni and living in halls, this was SUCH an interesting read! To be honest, I never even considered staying at home whilst I studied and I feel like it’s something I should have thought more about. At the time I just wanted to get out into London (which I love, so I don’t regret my choice), but there are so many positives to staying at home, I definitely should have weighed up the pros and cons.

    It sounds like you certainly made the right choice for you and it’s given you the oppurtunity to go after other things that you love as well, whcih is amazing. Although there are perks to being at uni like the social life, at least you know you’re never going to have to pick someone else’s 12p noodles from the plug! hahah.

    Bethany | Curly and Wordy

    • Reply
      Lily Kate France
      3rd November 2016 at 11:14 pm

      Thanks Bethany! I don’t know about your college/sixth form but mine didn’t suggest the idea of distance learning at all, so I’m glad I knew about the options anyway. Lots of other people in my year didn’t know anything about it though!
      If the London university life was what you wanted, then that’s the right decision to make you happy and is all that matters. I had to explain my pros and cons so many times haha!
      I do feel like I’m missing out on the social life, but then again I’ve seen on Snapchat the state of kitchens after predrinks the night before and I do not envy that cleanup job haha. Swings and roundabouts!!

  • Reply
    4th November 2016 at 3:52 pm

    I was wondering how Wales is too. Looks lovely! It must feel very different you all going your separate ways. Maybe it is not the staying behind really, more the having to start again which is true for all of your friends. For you, you din’t get this ready made, “this is your new life, turn left for the physics lab, turn right at the end of the day for your new home and friends” template. More decisions all the way. We are kind of faced with those types of decisions/changes now. Iris wants to go to the National Ballet school and they start at Grade 6 (11 years old), but the normal public school she goes to now ends at Grade 6. If she goes to ballet, she will not get to graduate at her current school and the friends she has been with all her life. It is sad to think that she will not get to graduate. It is nice to get the seal of completion put on something before going on to the next thing. We will have to see. She might not get in.

    • Reply
      Lily Kate France
      10th November 2016 at 9:45 pm

      Couldn’t have put it better myself, the laid out plan for new friends doesn’t exist for me! Sounds like you’ve got two good options to choose between and that’s always going to be a struggle. Maybe something will happen and the decision will be taken out of your hands, who knows! She must be doing amazing I’m sure, anyway 🙂

  • Reply
    7th November 2016 at 12:05 pm

    You have your head screwed on more than any other 18 year old I’ve ever met and you’re a total inspiration!
    University is great, but it’s not for everyone, and your path is so new and fresh and exciting – I know you’re going to succeed and be amazing at everything you do!! xxxx


    • Reply
      Lily Kate France
      10th November 2016 at 10:10 pm

      Ellie! Thank you so much <3 Sometimes I think my head is screwed on backwards haha!
      You know my reasons for doing what I am - hopefully it'll all work out! I shouldn't end up any worse off for not going to university anyway 😛

  • Reply
    11th January 2017 at 6:33 pm

    This was a great read! I am 23. I have studied with the OU part time for the last 3-4 years. I have about 18 months before I graduate but it feels so long away. I have to agree that I feel like I’m in that ‘this/that/the other’ stage. Not sure what I want. Not sure whether I am doing the right thing. Not sure what I’m doing with my life in general! When I decided to study with the OU, I turned down 2 conditional offers for universities in Birmingham, and was actually told I’d regret not going to a physical uni by some tutors at college. Like you, when I attend tutorials I feel like a fraud – like I’m playing at being a student. But I AM a student! I work part time and study part time, although I would like to spend the next 18 months (before I graduate) travelling a little and experiencing new things while I have the chance. I also never feel like an adult. I sometimes look at my decisions and think, OMG – I am still such a teenager!

    Wishing you well with your travels and the rest of your degree 🙂

    • Reply
      Lily Kate France
      13th January 2017 at 12:12 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! It’s always interesting to hear from other students (as you know, you don’t come into contact with others that often!) so thank you for commenting too 🙂 I have a sneaky suspicion this unsure feeling is going to last my whole life haha! Sounds like you had a similar experience of being told you’d miss out. We ARE students!!! The best thing about the OU for me is the flexibility and the fact that you can travel more if you wish 😛
      Likewise, wishing you well with your final stages of your degree and adventures in the meantime!

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