'I was so nervous. But going to university was absolutely the best decision I've ever made'
12 January 2006
As we enter 2006 many students will be in their final stages of further education and wondering what life will be like in university.
It is a daunting prospect for many. First come the application forms, then a year of hard work before a seemingly endless wait before finding out if you've got the A-level grades to get on the course you want.
…Tom Meredith, 20, … from Cwmbran, has just finished his first year at University College London where he is studying law.
"Leaving Newport for the 'big smoke' was a bit of a shock to the system at first," he said. "It's a totally new way of life, but I love every second of it. But going to university was the best decision I ever made."
"I was very nervous about starting at UCL because the standards are incredibly high. I'd heard horror stories about the volume of work you have to do on a law degree, but it hasn't been too bad so far. The work itself is a lot harder than I expected but if you keep on top of things, you will usually be OK. Before I went to university, I vowed to strike a good balance between studying and socialising and I think I've managed to achieve that."
"I love the London life. Everything is at a much faster pace than Newport but I enjoy the way of life here. It's exciting. I've even been to the infamous China White club celebrity-spotting."
Tom warned new students that university life and living away from home can be a culture shock.
"It might sound far-fetched but I'd never even used a washing machine before," he said.
"My mum really looked after me at home. She washed all my clothes, cooked all my food and I hardly had any chores. Although my diet mainly consisted of beans on toast for the first few months, I gradually picked up a few culinary skills from my flat mates and I'm now a much better cook. I have even got the hang of cleaning up and washing my clothes."
"It was strange at first, living with a group of people I didn't know, but everyone is in the same boat and we all pulled together. The experience of university has been amazing and I hope the next two years are even better."
Aled Blake, 'Western Mail', 12 January 2006