I can’t believe that it’s September already, which means school and university are starting soon. This time last year I was preparing myself for my first year of university. So I thought I’d try and help people who find themselves in the same position this year.
- If you haven’t done so already, meet fellow freshers on The Student Room and your university’s FaceBook page. For me it helped a great deal talking to people and making friends before I went. It’s reassuring talking to people who are in the same boat.
- If you’re a literature student, like myself, and you’re lucky enough to get a reading list before you go – try and do some reading before you start. This way you have more time to enjoy yourself and settle in. On the subject of reading, check whether the reading set is for your lecture or seminar – this can help you spread your reading and workload out.
- Universities love to promote their societies, and many have a wide variety to choose from. These help meet new people, keep up with a hobby or sport that you did at home or you might want to try something different. However, don’t spread yourself too thin! At first you might be able to cope with all the societies you joined on impulse during Freshers Week but, as the work begins to pile on it may be too much! In addition, although universities can make you feel that if you’re not part of a society your uni life won’t be as good, that’s not strictly true (personally I didn’t get involved in any last year but plan to this year) – you just have to do what you’re comfortable with!
- If you need help just ask for it. In my Sixth Form we were told we wouldn’t get any help once we were at university. However I found that not to be the case at all. We were encouraged to email and make appointments with our tutors. Yes, the level of help does decrease in terms of marking drafts and things, but you do still get help if you need it. They even like it when you ask them questions!
- Keep slippers, a dressing gown (or onesie) and your flat keys close together of an evening – particularly during Freshers Week! It’s most probably the same at all universities, but mine liked to do fire drills early morning during Freshers Week, so make sure you’re prepared! Plus, like me, you may also experience someone either accidentally, or deliberately, setting off the fire alarm at 3am!
- Beware of Freshers Flu! Now, I thought this was a myth or it simply referenced hangovers but I was very wrong. As you’re mixing with all different people during Freshers Week it is likely you will catch a cold or flu. For some people it will only last a couple of days or a week, but if you’re unlucky (like myself) it can stay for around two or three weeks. So make sure you have some supplies to combat it!
- Don’t worry if you don’t get on with all of your flatmates/housemates. Due to timetabling it’s likely you won’t see them all the time anyway. Additionally, make friends with people on your course and ask if you can hang out with their flat on nights out instead. Everyone is eager to make friends so it’s unlikely they will say no!
- Explore the area you’re in! You’re going to be there for at least three years, so make yourself familiar and make the most out of what’s around you. There are some things I didn’t realise was even in my area, which I’m disappointed I haven’t visited yet!
- This may sound obvious but have some of the important university numbers in your phone as you never know when you might need them. Security is the best number to have. I put the number in there as a ‘just in case’ that I never planned on using. However after falling over (I’d like to add I was completely sober when this happened) and not being able to walk (resulting in having to be wheeled back by some guy with a bike), neither me nor my friends really knew what to do (other than grab some frozen peas). So we called Security who came immediately and drove me to the hospital and picked me up afterwards. If you’re in a bit of a panic or away from an internet connection, having the number on your phone makes everything so much easier.
- You may think it’s too early to think about it, but find out when you should start looking for a house for your second year accommodation. A lot of people choose to live off campus in their second year as it’s more difficult to get on campus accommodation (unless you get in early). If you find out when you need to start looking, you can get in there early which makes things easier. Try and do it through the university if you can – that way you avoid paying additional fees!
- Don’t worry if you get halfway through Freshers Week and think that maybe uni isn’t as great as you expected. Freshers Week doesn’t represent what uni life will be like the entire time you’re there. Once it’s over and people are settled into a routine, you get to see what uni life is like and what other people are really like.
- Lastly (and also obviously) try and get your work done before the deadline. Each university is different, but some drop the maximum percentage you can get by each day that your piece is late being submitted. Although you only need 40% (I think) to pass onto second year (for most people) as it doesn’t count towards your degree, you don’t want to have to be rewriting and resubmitting coursework over the summer!
Most importantly though, remember to have fun. Once your first year is over everything gets more stressful with talks of work placements (if your course offers it) and dissertation topics (although that doesn’t mean you stop having fun completely). If your idea of a good time isn’t partying and clubbing – don’t worry! You will find people like you or that respect that. When I told people I didn’t drink and didn’t plan to go to the club events every week, there were shocked faces but then it never came up again. I was still asked out to various events (both at the club and other places) but there wasn’t any pressure to drink.
Making this post has made me miss the excitement of Freshers! Cherish it and enjoy it! If you have any tips or questions please comment below!