As promised this is the start of a few consecutive posts in which I’ll be giving you some advice, which I will try and tailor to freshers/first year, second year, and final year/third year. So naturally, in terms of chronology, I am going to start with first year, talking through new starts, friends and some more practical tips.
Do Your Research:
So you’ve got your offer, you’ve confirmed your place, and you have just over a month before you potentially move hours away from everything that is familiar to you…daunting to say the least. Admittedly, right up until the day before I moved into halls I was adamant I wouldn’t like university and would be home within a month, so I completely understand the anxiety many people feel, however, I do think there are things you can do to make you feel a little more prepared.
Whether it’s blogs, YouTube videos or even just word of mouth doing your research can really help you get a feel for what your first year might be like, but also may help give you some advice in terms of must bring items, freshers week tips, and even just ways to combat homesickness. Specifically researching your chosen university is also very useful; looking up the endless list of societies for instance can really help excite you for what you might get up to.
First Few Weeks:
I think if everyone was brutally honest there’s things about their first few weeks they may change, whether it’s they went on one too many nights out or didn’t go out on any social events, everyone has their own opinion on the right way to start university. For me, I think I had a fairly good balance in terms of socialising, however I definitely would have tried to push myself more in terms of trying out more societies, as I never really felt like I found MY thing.
If you’re moving into halls I suppose the best tip I can give you is to remain approachable; keep your bedroom door wedged open when you’re in there, or sit in the kitchen/living area, for as much time as you can as it’ll give you a chance to really talk to your new flatmates. However, I think there’s a misconception that if you’re not best friends with flatmates you’re a failure; as long as you get along with everyone in a functional way, and can have a chat, it’s absolutely okay if you’re not really close friends- there’s plenty of other opportunities to find your kind of people!
Speaking of finding your people, arguably one of the biggest concerns people have when going to university is “Will I make friends”? The short answer is yes, of course, but I think it’s unrealistic to say you’ll not only make them immediately but also that you’ll have a huge group of friends. I’ll get more into this in my next couple of posts but I think it’s always important to mention that having a small group of really close friends is often how most university students end up.
You’ll have lots of people you want to hang out with, go on nights out with, or even simply just sit next to in class but that doesn’t mean you/they need to consider each other the best of friends, and that’s totally fine. Chances are you’ll find your closest friends by chance, so get out there and don’t be afraid to chat (in first year especially everyone wants to find new friends so they’ll be more than willing to have a conversation), although those 100 people you added on Facebook during freshers week probably aren’t going to be your friends for life.
Contrary to popular belief your first year work, although usually not impacting the outcome of your degree providing you pass each assessment, is tough. You’ll have so many new skills to learn, and will often be expected to pick these up through independent study or having the initiative to ask for help. For example, I had never used a scholarly quote, neither knew how to reference said quotes, when I started my first university assignment…I panicked, big style, but now I could probably reference in my sleep. However first year is the best year to learn from your mistakes, and if you don’t know something, please ask!
Equally, there’s sometimes a mentality to not try hard with your first year work because “you only need to pass”. First year is a chance to get used to your work load, work on time management skills, and figure out where you need to improve; ultimately if you do try your best it’ll really help you in your following years. You might not always feel very cool by occasionally sacking off a night out to work but I promise you it’ll be worth it, and it’ll make the work in your second year less of a shock.
There’s lots advice blogs around about student budgeting so I’m not going to spin this out, all I will say is this, listening to the experience of others: It is not fun only having £10 to live on in a week because you blew your student loan in the first few weeks by going out and eating takeout every day; your money needs to last you, so try to be sensible. (Hint: Looking for casual/part time jobs within your university can be a great way to top up your funds without taking up too much of your time.)
First year is a learning curve for everyone, and it’d be impossible for me to say it won’t come with some challenges, but arguably it’s probably one of the best experiences you’ll have in terms of what you learn, both through independent living and personal growth, so accept the first year craziness and enjoy the ride. I’ll leave a few links to other posts I’ve done specifically relating to first year below, in case you’re looking for some more specific help.
Take Care Everyone, I’ll Speak to You All Soon!
University Packing: studentblogs.le.ac.uk/filmstudies/2018/07/29/packing-for-university/
Activities in Leicester: studentblogs.le.ac.uk/filmstudies/2018/01/14/entertaining-your-guests-in-leicester/
Searching for a Second Year House: studentblogs.le.ac.uk/filmstudies/2017/11/20/finding-the-perfect-2nd-year-house/
The Perfect Bedroom: studentblogs.le.ac.uk/hoa/2017/09/10/its-that-time-of-year-again/
Making Friends Before University Begins: studentblogs.le.ac.uk/hoa/2017/07/09/getting-ahead-making-pre-uni-connections/