• Surviving First Year

    Surviving Is The First Step

    Going off to university is not only something that is truly terrifying but exciting point of your life. I remember being extremely overwhelmed on results day as I managed to get the grades I needed, and would be heading off to London in a matter of weeks! The only thing I was worried about was surviving being in a city instead of a small town. Early on I began to stress about all the things I needed as I was moving into an ensuite room in student accommodation, which had a shared kitchen. One thing I do recommend you do is to find the freshers page for your university on Facebook, as I found quite a few of my coursemates and flatmates this way; which meant I was able to get to know them beforehand and I wouldn’t awkwardly be going off not knowing anyone. Do be careful, I know at my university there are often fake freshers pages which try to entice new students to go to events not run by the student union themselves.

    Freshers week is the best time to meet new people, not to mention a brilliant time to bond with your flat/housemates, nothing beats a good game of ‘Never have I ever’ or ‘Ring of fire’ to get the conversation going. I met two of my best friends during freshers week, well one of them was my next door neighbour but we had our major bonding during freshers. I highly suggest you get involved in campus events and also keep your room door open during the day so people can come into your room and strike up a conversation. You’ll see a lot more approachable if your door is already open, rather than them having to knock. Bonding with the people you live with is quite an important aspect as they’re the people you’ll see a majority of the time, and they’ll see you at every stage whether you’re stressing out about an essay, hungover like there’s no tomorrow or just woken up by the fire alarm going off (which is likely to happen a lot so take a dressing gown and slip on shoes!)

     

    Just because you’re making new friends doesn’t mean you can forget about the ones back home, I took loads of photographs with me to decorate my room with so I could look at them whenever I missed home and was filled with happiness. Personally, I became distance with people from back home since I found I was the one always putting in the effort, but the people I stayed in contact with understand I can’t always reply to their messages straight away while I’m at uni but once I have free time I’ll talk like there’s no tomorrow. As well as photographs you want to decorate your room with other homely features such as; stuffed toys, posters, fairy lights and other little trinkets, after all, this is where you shall be living for a majority of the year so you want it to feel like home. 

    When it comes to taking notes in lectures I highly recommend using a laptop, you’ll find it easier to keep up with what you’re being told, plus you can go back through and edit any spelling mistakes later. I always print my lecture notes out at the end of each half term, so I can go back through them and see what I’ve learnt as well as making notes of which areas I need to do more research on to improve. If you’re going to do this as well I highly recommend getting your own printer, I personally have an HP Deskjet 2540 All-In-One (£49.99) and it’s the best investment I’ve made. Not only can I print lecture notes, and readings out but I can also scan and print chapters from books which I wish to use to essays or other projects. I wouldn’t trust university printers as far as I can throw up (which isn’t anyway) those things smell fear and know when deadline season is rolling around, and they cost a small fortune to use!

    When it comes to having a social life, the main thing you need to do is go out, don’t spend your days hidden in your room, go and make friends with people. Don’t be afraid to go exploring the location you’re in alone either, I quite often have solo trips into central London which means I can bump into some pretty cool new people. I’ve also made so good friends in London which means I can just go and meet up with them whenever I want. Just because you’re at university doesn’t mean you can’t have friends outside, or that you are confined to being with your flat or coursemates all the time. The best place to meet people on campus is normally the campus bar or coffee shops, I know I have them scattered all across my campus, and the bar is nearly always busy, especially if there is an event going on.

    Here are my top five tips for surviving first year:

    1. Budget
    I expect this is probably the first time you’ve lived away from home and had to pay for things yourself, I sucked at budgeting in my first time and spent way too much money, to the point I had to get my mum to transfer me some more, in order to buy food. Budgeting means not buying unnecessary purchases, or going completely wild on a night out. You can have fun with spending minimal money. Just a side note it’s a good idea to find out how you pay for your laundry, since I know at my university most of the machines only accept pound coins (very few take cards) and you don’t want to discover that you can’t do your load since you don’t have the right change.
    2. Explore the local area
    You’ve probably moved to a brand new location that you haven’t been to before, or if you have it’s minimal visits, therefore it’s vital that you go and explore what you have around you. Discover where your nearest convenience shop is, what the public transport is like in the area, are there any places you should avoid after dark? It just makes you wise about your area and makes it feel more like home, rather than just a place you’re staying.
    3. Make friends
    These are going to be the people you’ll want to go to when you’re stressed about deadlines, or want to have a great time. It’s important you make friends as soon as you can otherwise university can be a very tough and lonely place, and might even feel like a prison at times.
     
    4. Keep up with the work
    First year might not count in most cases, but you still need at least 40% to pass and continue on to second year. This means you don’t have to worry so much about perfect academically written essays however, it’s good to understand what you do need to do to actually achieve the grades you want rather than the minimal. I passed first year with 54% which is a mid 2:2, and considering I put in minimal effort with a majority of things I was impressed with this, personally I know where I need to improve and exactly what I need to do to be hitting a first or high 2:1 in second year.
    5. Enjoy yourself
    The main thing to do is enjoy yourself, try and keep the stresses at bay and just have fun. Don’t get caught up in any drama…particularly drama with guys or friends (there are plenty of more people out there) it just isn’t worth the energy. As long as you’re happy, having fun and meeting the requirements to pass that’s the main thing, everything else is an added bonus.
    I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you’ve got any tips for people heading off to univeristy then let me know in the comment section below!
    Love you lots like jelly tots x
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