Tips for your first year at university

I know a lot of people will be gearing up to start their university journey soon.  So I thought I’d share my words of wisdom based on my experience of my first year.  Now it has been a couple of years, so some details may be a bit hazy but I do remember my first year and time very fondly. My first year was filled with a lot of fun, laughter and discovery of myself.  It was definitely the time where I grew the most.

My tips will not concentrate on what to pack because there are a lot of tips if you google.  I’ll concentrate on what to do once you’re there.

Don’t let your parents help you unpack

By all means let them help you move in.  However, as much as you might be tempted to hang on that much longer and savour your last moments with them before you are left on your own, force yourself to.  Give them a nice big hug, promise to call them once you’re settled in and send them on their way.  Honestly, it’s in your best interest!

Once they leave, wedge your room door open, put some music on and get unpacking.  Your other flatmates will gravitate to the open door and music and before you know it, you’ll be bonding over a cup of tea and a biscuit.

Don’t be afraid to knock on doors

When I moved into halls, my flatmate and I went knocking on every door in our building and introduced ourselves.  In fact we went one further.  We invited them all back to our kitchen for drinks and a few games.  It worked a treat!  By the end of the week we were on first name terms with everyone in our block and had made a few friends to go out with.

Do get your parents to stop at the supermarket

You’re on a tight budget.  After you pay rent, buy books and beer money, you won’t have much left.  Get your parents to stop at the supermarket so you can fill your cupboard with tinned food, noodles etc.  You’ll be thankful you did that when it’s close to end of term when money is tight because at least you’ll have a bit more to look forward to than beans on toast until the next loan instalment comes in.

Do not spend you entire loan for the term on new clothes

I cannot tell you how many people I saw do this and then spend the rest of the term struggling.  Make a budget and try to make your money last as long as possible.  Even if you intend to work, there is no guarantee that you’ll be lucky enough to get a part time job immediately.

Do not buy your entire reading list immediately

You will no doubt receive a long list of books that the lecturers will tell you that you need to buy.  Resist the urge to go out and blow your student loan buying every single one.  Trust me!  About 90% will just gather dust on your shelf.  Work out which ones are absolute essentials and buy those (preferably second-hand from the bookshop, Amazon or Ebay) and then use the library for the rest.

Do put yourself out there

If someone invites you out, unless you have no money or an assignment due say yes!  If you stay in all the time you will end up wondering how everyone else has made friends but you only know the person you sit next to in lectures.

Don’t let the fear that you don’t know them that well or that they already know the other people they are out with stop you.  Remember 9 times out of 10 that person is feeling the same as you. The difference is that they are willing to put themselves out there to rectify the situation.

Do stock up on your vitamins

At some point you will succumb to the dreaded fresher flu.  Make sure you are prepared for this when it happens.  Make sure you have cold medicine, pain killers and multi-vitamins as a minimum to get you through when it happens.

Do keep on top of your school work

I know a lot of people will say “Oh but the first year does not count towards your degree.  You just need to pass.”  That is not a good view to take in my opinion. Just because it doesn’t count does not mean you shouldn’t take it seriously.  The first year is there to help you bridge the gap between studying at university and studying at college.  Use the time wisely!

Be prepared for your lectures and stay on top of your assignments.  Try your best to turn up for your lectures too (yes even those 9am ones!).  You’ll be grateful that you did when exams come round.  Especially if you plan on doing a placement year.  Your first year grade will count for a heck of a lot then!  I would recommend getting a wall planner so that you can see exactly what needs to be done and where you need to be when.

Do have fun

Of course you are there first and foremost to study but if there is any time at university that you can afford to go a little bit crazy with the going out and socialising it will be the first year.  After that you’ll have to cut down on the nights out and up the studying.  So make sure you enjoy it.  The first year goes so quickly.  One minute you’re unpacking to move in and the next minute you’ll be packing up to move home for summer.

Make sure you try new things, step out of your comfort zone and live it up a little.  You’re a fresher after all!

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