Being a third year, I thought it would be a good idea to use this platform and reflect on some of the experiences I had during my first year. Nothing like a good bit of hindsight for reflection!
The first subject I thought to write about was accommodation. I remember coming to the end of September 2014, one arm lugging a duvet set across the living room by my pots and pans, and realising fully that I was leaving home. Although I had thought about it before then, the reality had been hard to imagine for a person whose only experience of being away from her parents was one 2-day weekend getaway in Year 6. And when I actually reached my accommodation, I distinctly recall that first goodbye and the strange quietness that set in afterwards. It’s definitely a scary time – and for a little while, it’s overwhelming.
My first piece of advice for newcomers to university is to ensure you keep your door open to visitors for that first day/evening. It can feel scary being alone for the first time, but you are definitely not alone in feeling that. When I was researching universities and university life, I remember reading about loads of people recommending first years to go around their accommodation with armful of sweets saying ‘Hi!’ to everyone. That’s absolutely fine if you’re okay with doing that – but if not, something as simple as keeping your door slightly ajar in case anyone with an armful of sweets feels like popping by and saying hi is fine as well. The truth is that even if you resist it, you will have to meet new people at university and starting with your housemates is the easiest way to do that. Plus chances are you’ll meet some great people. Leicester attracts such a mix and the chances are you’ll click with someone soon after starting out!
Secondly, make sure you try and get to know the area. I stayed in Oadby in my first year and it was such a beautiful place to live. It was a tad outside the city so it was quieter and greener. But to be honest, I didn’t get to see as much of the area as I wanted to and I’m aiming to change that by paying a visit later this month. If you get a spot in Halls, do make sure you pay a visit (or multiple) to the botanical garden! It’s a great place to walk around, study, and just explore whilst waiting around for your laundry to finish. If you’re in city living, then definitely try and factor in a few of the typical Leicester sights to help you settle in!
Lastly, make your room your own. Unlike some of my friends who are far more creatively superior, I’m not a decorator and I enjoy having a plain and tidy room. In my first year, I re-organised the space in room to my liking and found that it definitely helped me settle in (and kept me busy) for the first few days. Having a nice comfortable room to rest in at the end of the day is a luxury we all take for granted and as a first year, it’s all going to fly by so quickly that you can’t underestimate its value! Luckily you have poster fairs, a generously sized high street and handy student discounts at your disposal to use.
So get decorating! If any of you have useful tips for room decor then feel free to drop them below as I’d love to hear stories of how people have managed to transform theirs!