My 10 Tips For First Year At University

Monday, June 08, 2015
Well hey there! Guess what! I'm free from exams, uni, and work and I'm finally on my summer holidays for 4 months! One year of university, already done! Where has the time gone? Ok probably half of it was spent in bed with terrible hangovers but the rest of it, where did it all go?! It's been such a fantastic year that has definitely changed my life for the better. 

As my first year is over and I'm finally on my summer holidays, I can finally get back into blogging again! I decided to start off by sharing with any potential university/college students my top 10 tips for surviving their first year. I felt like I got some good advice when I started but I think having advice from a student who has experienced it themselves would have definitely helped and given me a heads up of what to expect. I hope this helps any of you who are about to begin your new life come September and good luck!

1. Be patient

This is crucial in anything during your first year. It's easy to jump to a conclusion and say one or more of the following: a) I've picked the wrong course b) I hate university c) I can't cope with the work d) I miss home too much etc, which are all perfectly normal feelings you will probably get within the first few months or longer because I did too - and that is a-ok. 

I was so close to dropping out of uni after Christmas break. I didn't think I was good enough for my course or uni in general and I wasn't happy where I was. However, I was patient and made some changes - I moved somewhere better which meant less commuting, living in the center of everything, and a room that felt more homely, I spoke to my tutors and worked harder. Fast forward to today and I can't wait for the second year! I've heard of people dropping out in the first week and that's ok cause sometimes you will get a gut feeling and it's just not right for you but remember to give everything and every situation a bit of time because things could change for the better and if in the end, you do decide to try something else, at least you know you gave it your all!

2. You don't have to party all the time

With university/college culture comes partying and drinking. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the partying side of university - it's great to go out and meet new people but no way do I have the energy or motivation to this every day, even during freshers week I didn't. You will meet people that prefer to have fun in ways that don't involve drinking and partying so if it isn't your thing, these people do exist and it doesn't make you boring to be one of them.

Depending on where you're going, there will normally be tons of other things going on for you to enjoy and do without drinking involved. So if everyone is gearing up for a huge night out sounding like they are having the time of their lives but all you'd really rather do is sit in bed and stuff your face with chocolate and watch Netflix - then do that! No one is forcing you to do anything you don't want to.

3. Use your time wisely

Within the first week of lectures, you will probably miss one (or two, maybe three...or more) which technically isn't the end of the world considering the first year won't count towards your degree anyway (in most UK universities it doesn't) but it may affect your work and adjust to university life. It's easy to just say, oh I won't bother going in today because your parents aren't there to tell you off and your teachers won't call up and ask why you were absent but it may make you lazy over time so try to avoid doing it too much. 

As for your free time, don't spend it too much on Skype with people back home if you're homesick, it won't help and might just make you miss home more. Try getting out and meeting new people, going to any socials or events that are on offer will make you enjoy university life way more. I spent a lot of time in between lectures doing nothing useful, when instead I should have been in the library getting to know my course better, catching up on work or going to socials, the gym - anything - just don't waste your time as you'll have a lot of it in your first year.

4. Get involved

During freshers week, there will be tons of societies for you to sign up to. These are the perfect opportunity to meet new people, outside of halls and your course and try out new things. Now you can either be completely open-minded and sign up to every single one and only go to about one social, like I did, or be smartly selective and only sign up to societies that you are genuinely interested in and will actually participate in. The inductions are perfect opportunities to see if the society is something you will enjoy and after that, you can decide whether the knitting/chess society will actually be something you'll enjoy, ahem...

5. Make a weekly food plan

For most, starting university means cooking by yourself for the first time. Now, it will seem like an easier option to just get a takeaway because there will be days that you are too tired or too busy to cook. However, if you make a weekly food plan, which a cool cat introduced me to (*cough* Sid) and stick to it, not only will you save yourself money but you will also be able to manage your time better and actually look forward to mealtime. 

All you need to do is grab yourself a diary/weekly planner and write down breakfast, lunch, and dinner for each day. Look up recipe ideas then add the idea to the day you want and add the ingredients to your shopping list as you go along. Now, to make sure you use your ingredients wisely, double up on the meal (ie. leftovers) or create another meal with the same ingredients. For example, I bought feta, avocado, cherry tomatoes, wraps, and tortellini which are all ingredients that can be used for several different meals eg: feta and avocado salad, tortellini, and feta pasta dish with tomatoes, falafel wrap/feta wrap etc. These can also be made into large portions easily to make more than one of the same meal.

6. Be prepared for a big leap from high school/college work

Unlike high school, things aren't given to you on a plate. University involves going out of your own way to research, inform yourself and if you do need help, it's your responsibility to get help with your work. What's also different about high school and university is that if you don't hand in your work on time, you're not going to get told off but you will be wasting your university fees and your time at university. It sounds harsh but it is the reality of it. What I'm trying to say is that university does come with great independence but you have to be smart about it.

7. Home is where the heart is

Find somewhere to live that makes you happy! You'll notice early into the year (almost as early as a month into uni) that people are already making second-year accommodation plans. However, don't feel rushed into anything because quite often the friends you make in the first month are not going to be your best friends for your three years at university. On the other hand, if you feel like you have found a solid group of friends then there is no harm in putting down a deposit on a nice place as they do go fast. Your home is almost just as important as your university course as it's somewhere you can escape university work and enjoy some downtime so choose wisely.

8. Losing touch with home is inevitable

Luckily things like Skype and Facebook make it easier for us to stay in touch with friends and family at home but realistically you're not going to have time to do this every day. It's important you create your new life at university but at the same time don't forget your old friends either. A little message every now and then or a Skype call once a week for a catch up is enough to keep the friendship together. Also, it's important to understand that friends that are also off to university are busy too.

9. Charity shops, Poundland and Lidl are your new best friends

As much as you'd like to shop on a luxury budget, you are most likely going to be on a tight student budget instead. However, don't knock places like Poundland/B&M Bargains because they do have great alternatives to expensive food (and alcohol!) and you will have a lot more money to spend on treats, rent, and other day to day needs.

10. As cliché as it sounds, the university days are going to be some of the best days of your life

Trust me, that's a sentence I heard about 10 times before I left for university and it is pretty true because university really does mold your memories. Go to university with an open mind and remember to enjoy it.

I'm lucky enough to be visiting *drum roll please*..........CHINA, this summer! So, be expecting travel posts from my 4-week journey over there on the blog. I can't wait to share it with all of you!