Hey guys! SO. I just finished my first year at university. Which feels ridiculously surreal considering I literally feel as though I just moved in and had to conquer living alone and making friends in a city I'd visited twice.
Whilst I've hit quite a few barriers on my journey as a fresher, I genuinely feel like a better, slightly different person. I feel like I've gone from having the odd friend to having several wonderful, amazing, kind people in my life who I now can't imagine life without. I have however learnt so so much this past year about myself and life in general and I feel like I want to pass this information along to people about to start university feeling as nervous as I did, this time last September.
- Throw yourself into it. This sounds simple but believe me, it's all too easy to be overwhelmed by the whole experience of moving in and being surrounded by new people and if you're anything like me, all you'll want to do is hide. Now of course, hiding occasionally is completely fine, we all need our alone time! But freshers week/fortnight/pretty much the first month I guarantee is when you're gonna make the friends you'll have for the next year, if not longer. Everyone on the first day knows pretty much no one, so it's the easiest environment you'll ever be in to make friends. So at least try to make more of an effort than you usually would, just for the first couple of weeks, because after that you won't neeeeed to make loads of effort as you'll already have friends so it'll come a lot more naturally.
- If you don't get on with your flatmates, it's not the end of the world!! I personally loved mine, but I made friends who had pretty rubbish flatmate experiences, but made friends with people off their course and spent as little time socialising with the flat as possible. But the chances are, you'll be landed with a decent group of people who are at least tolerable. So just be patient and open and go into that moving in day with a positive attitude, accepting the fact that you're going to try to accept each of the other people in your flat as best you can.
- Eating well is really really important. It sounds like a silly thing to say, I know a lot of people will read this and think "of course I'll eat well!" but honestly, after a long day of lectures, it's so hard to find the motivation to get up off your arse and make a decent meal. But it'll be worth it, I promise. If you know you'll find it difficult to find motivation after long days, plan ahead. Make double or triple the amount of food when you're cooking and then freeze the other servings ready to defrost and cook on nights when you don't have the time or the energy!
- Do the work. I know it's only first year and you probably just want to go and have a good time and enjoy yourself (which of course, you can!!), getting into the habit of working hard and teaching yourself self-discipline now will make the next couple of really important years much easier because you'll already be in the habit of working hard.
- If you aren't a going-out/party person, DON'T WORRY. There is a surprising amount of people at university who prefer nights in with tea and cake and a film with their friends or alone too! Of course people go out a lot, but do not feel pressured to go out all the time if you're not comfortable. There are other ways to bond and make friends with the people you meet. Just make sure if you are rejecting plans, to try and reorganise something a little more gentle so people know you're not just blowing them off, but you do actually want to hang out with them in a situation that isn't a dark sweaty nightclub :-D
- Enjoy yourself. It's really easy to get caught up in homesickness or work or anxiety in general. Allow yourself the time to yourself, to appreciate how lucky you are to be at university. This is such a wonderful opportunity and it's going to absolutely fly by, so appreciate every second!
- And finally, if university life isn't for you, and you really can't see a way to enjoy your time there, you are not obliged to stay. It is a lot of money to spend on something that isn't going to make you happy or get you to somewhere you don't really want to be in life. At the end of the day, this is your life, so live it how you want to, regardless of "expectations".
I hope this is a little bit helpful. I just wish I'd had something like this to read and reassure me before I started, so if this helps even just one person, I'll consider it a success.
Of course, if you have any university-related questions, please please pop a comment in the box, or you can even email me (see contact page) and I'll do my utmost to help you out!
All my love,