I had my first day back at university today which I’ve been looking forward to for ages- especially since I moved back to London because I had a whole week and a half of not really doing anything apart from exploring and lazing about!
I have two days off per week again as most of my electives are next term so I only have 9 contact hours a week made up of my core modules; thankfully I have a job on my days off plus I’ll be going around seeing friends and my boyfriend, who is also back at university in Swansea now.
Today was just really an introduction to the courses as it will be in the rest of the classes for the week so it’s nothing heavy which gives me a chance to swot up and prepare myself for the coming term. I thought that given how it’s my first day back I’d do a little mini survival guide; if you’re in your first year then this might be helpful if things seem a little daunting, but to be honest I’m still pretty overwhelmed at times and even now don’t know my way around my uni very well! I’ve tried not to make it too specific especially to a large city like London and hope that even one person finds this helpful!
1. Talk. To. Everyone
Over the past few years when dealing with anxiety, I’ve noticed that I’ve become quite shy around new people, so starting university was pretty difficult because I didn’t know a single person. Maybe you’ll have one or two friends you know from home which is really good, but my advice which I wish I’d taken last year would be to talk to absolutely everyone. When I came back from my gap year I had gained a little more confidence and knew I didn’t really have a choice because everyone had already made their friends, but I realised that it’s not as daunting as you might initially think. If you’re a first year, everyone around you will be in the same boat. It’s important to get to know people on your course and in your halls obviously, but by talking to people in the union or around the uni, you’ll meet people learning different subjects to you and with different interests. In my house this year, I’m the only one who studies languages- there are 3 scientists, one model and an animation major, it’s so varied which makes it that much more interesting! Just get to know as many people as possible even if you only talk to them once a week; you honestly won’t regret it!
2. Sign up for clubs/societies
Even though I chose to prioritise getting a job over joining clubs, there are loads that I would have loved to be a part of- that’s the great thing about university; there’s pretty much a club for every need! There’s baking, Harry Potter, capoeira, all kinds of sports, literature, everything! At the Freshers Fair they have all of the sign up sheets and information (as well as a tonne of free pens and USB sticks that I always love to take advantage of!) so just sign up for anything that takes your fancy and even if you don’t end up going properly, it’s still another great way to meet people and can be really nice to take a break from studying/partying and be a part of a team and achieve something great – I should really be an ambassador for some kind of club, I’m feeling so inspirational today!
3. Budget Your Money
Eurgh now I sound like a naggy parent but honestly after having some troubles in my last term around my exams with Student Finance hiccups and overspending, I would honestly not like anyone else to be in the same position; talk about not needing any extra stress! Work out how much money you have per week by taking your total, subtracting the rent, and then dividing the rest between various living costs like food, nights out, transport etc. It’s really helpful to have a finance plan written out; you know how I just love a good plan! It’s a really good idea to get a job as well just to boost your disposable income but never let it overshadow your studies because that’s not worth it at all. There are loads of finance schemes available to help students and unis often provide their own including emergency loans and stipends.
4. Working at Home is Key
This again sounds so boring but honestly the more work you do initially at home, the less stress you’ll have come exam season when you’re scrabbling about for notes on back of handouts and any possible shred of help you can get for the course- that was definitely me in my first year with one course in particular where I just didn’t write anything down and had to teach myself the whole course content by the time my exam came. I try to do each lecture completely over again when I get home to ensure the information is stored as long-term memory and also to get extra information by doing background reading. There’s so much pressure on students doing extra curricular work which makes it all seem really daunting and stressful but it’s honestly not; especially if you’ve picked a course you’re passionate about. If you haven’t then I’m sorry to have rubbed that in your face, keep slugging away!
5. De-stressing is Even More Important!
While there’s so much emphasis on working and making sure you’re keeping all of this information retained while making friends, getting used to a new environment and working out how to use the washing machine for the first time; you have to make sure that you make room in your week to just take some time out and rest! Go out clubbing, have a couple of glasses of wine while binge watching god awful TV, go for a run, go shopping; whatever relaxes you, make sure that you are getting the balance between work and fun otherwise you’ll just burn yourself out and will end up a complete wreck. It’s easier to look back and say that now after what I went through in my first year, but I do understand that it might seem like you have no time for yourself and it’s important to remember to MAKE time! Go see friends for the weekend or just take a day off from copying up boring notes and watch all the seasons of Friends all over again! Just make sure you’ve got some kind of outlet. I can’t stress that enough.
I don’t want to seem like some nagging mum or anything, so I’m sorry if those tips are pretty patronising; to be honest they’re all things that I’m sure everyone thinks of anyway, but that is because they really are the most helpful in getting through your first and pretty much all university years. Well, and life really! Despite having a really rocky start at my university I’m really happy to be back for another year; even if my best friend is in her final year and I’ve still got 3 to go!!!
If you’re back today as well then I hope you’ve had a lovely first day back, and if you’ve been back for a while already like I know a lot of unis have; then keep at it!
Here are some gorgeous photos of my university as I didn’t add my usual header- I’ve changed themes and think this one is slightly better for photo quality (even though I got these particular ones from Google because I was too lazy to take photos of uni today)
Have a lovely evening!