Although, for me, my first freshers’ week feels like a lifetime ago, this week brought back a lot of those same feelings. The nerves, the uncertainty, the desperate wish to make friends. All of these are perfectly normal when introduced to a new environment, whether that environment is a new university or a university in a new country. This week was my first week of classes at the University of Salamanca, so I thought I would share with you a few of the things that have helped me through it.
1. Give yourself enough time.
For me this sprang largely from my complete lack of a sense of direction, but is also relevant for a whole host of matters, from finding your way to keeping up with your studies. Personally, this meant giving myself enough time to find where things are. Firstly, this involved practicing the walk to university. I didn’t want to be late on my first day simply because I got lost. It took me four attempts to make it there without having to rely on Google Maps or wandering aimlessly in what I hoped to be the right direction. This was also relevant on a smaller scale. I gave myself an extra ten minutes each day so I had time to find the right classroom. This also leaves plenty of time to doubt yourself and check your timetable five times to make sure you definitely are in the right place. You will have plenty of things to stress about in your first weeks, getting to class on time doesn’t have to be one of them!
2. Get Involved
University is about more than just classes. Your social endeavours are equally as important as your academic ones, and will ultimately prove a lot more memorable! Fresher’s week is a hub of activity, from society fairs to bar crawls and clubbing. This is also the first week you’ll spend with your flatmates, so even a pizza and movie night can go a long way to forming those friendships and helping you to settle in. Just make sure you hit up the Freshers’ Fair first for those Domino’s vouchers! I fully recommend joining your department’s society as well, as this will allow you to take part in departmental events throughout the year and meet the people you’ll be studying alongside!
3. Talk to Strangers
When we’re younger, we’re always told never to talk to strangers. I encourage you to ignore this advice in your first few weeks and start introducing yourself to the other students around you. The worst that will happen is you’ll have another few names to pin to the sea of faces around you. The best? You may meet people who’ll become an important part of your university experience. In fact, this advice led me to meet one of my closest friends at Leicester during my first few weeks there.
4. Take It Easy on Yourself
As I explained in my post ‘It’s Okay to Not be Okay’, starting university is a massive step and can often feel overwhelming. It’s important to give yourself the time you need to adjust. You won’t know everything immediately and you will make mistakes or have days when you just can’t take it anymore. That’s okay. The truth is, no one will expect more of you than you do of yourself, so it’s important to cut yourself some slack. This mindset has been particularly helpful for me this past week, when faced with classes in a foreign language. By accepting that I’m not going to understand everything right away, I’ve taken a lot of my usual, self-inflicted pressure off myself. After all, if I knew it all already, there would be no point in me being here!
As always, leave your comments below if you have any questions or anything you would like to add to this post.