Your first few weeks at university are always a busy time. Not only are you learning to navigate the new city you live in, but you’re also meeting new people and learning new things at a fast pace. You may feel like you know everything there is to know about moving out and beginning your studies, but there’s always going to be one thing you’ve overlooked. To help you get on the right foot from day one here is some invaluable advice for you to bear in mind as you begin the first year.
Get your head down
First-year may not count towards your degree in most cases, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be studying. This year is the transition period between A level or equivalent to being at degree level, which means you should be spending this year working hard on such things as essay writing and exam skills. You should also be getting used to having to read lots of material in short amounts of time. As Megan Taylor, a graduate of Salem College says, ‘Go to class! Seriously, unless you are half dead, go!’
Giving yourself as good a chance as possible to get ahead is the smartest thing to do in the first year. Another vital piece of advice comes from boggyisafishmonger, a Buzzfeed contributor, who says ‘it’s not a competition, everyone there is as smart as you, probably smarter. So keep your eyes on the prize and do the best you can do.’
First-year friends aren’t permanent
Meeting new faces and making them into friends is a great experience but comes with its own set of pressures. If you’re living in halls or private accommodation such as urbanest, you may feel obliged to stay friends with certain people just because it would be awkward not to when you’re living in the same space as they are.
However, university is a great opportunity to make lifelong friends whose company you love to be in and that means you shouldn’t feel like you have to be friends with your assigned flatmates. As Guardian contributor Erica Buist says, ‘University is a rich and random conveyor belt of meet-and-greets, and the potential [lifelong friends] enter and exit at steady intervals throughout. Don’t concentrate on finding them in the first week. Just try to remember all the names.’
Be clever with money
Along with all the expected expenses that university has up its sleeves, there are a few things you may not have accounted for, such as the cost of joining clubs and societies and buying textbooks. As far as clubs and societies are concerned join as many as you can comfortably afford for the first term, after which you can make a better decision about which ones you want to stay a member of.
Textbooks, however, are something you can’t really go without. But hold your horses! According to Buzzfeed commentator whitewoodart you should ‘never buy your textbooks at the campus store!!! It is a total rip off and you WILL be charged the full price of the book and then some. Rent/buy them from another bookstore in town…get them off amazon…Never pay full price for these things because you never know if you’ll end up using them once then never again.’
Look after your health
Freshers Flu exists for a reason, though there are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t get seriously ill. This comes down to simply being clean and understanding what can make you ill. Steer clear of flatmates and friends that are sick (while still being polite, of course!) and make sure you don’t pass on any germs yourself. You can do this by keeping your hands clean, coughing and sneezing into a tissue and staying in your room when you’re at your most contagious.
Your mental health is also something you should be looking after. If you feel the university is having a negative effect on your mental health then reaching out to people that can help is the best thing you can do. The university will have services that can help you and relying on friends and family for advice and support can be invaluable.
Avoid the Freshers 15
Legend has it that every student in the first year tends to put on around 15 pounds. Obviously, this is a fate that everyone wants to avoid, which is why being clever with your diet and fitness is so important.
A lack of sleep, exercise and nutritious diet, as well as a surplus of alcohol, will take a toll on your body quickly. Balance out your nights of boozing by hitting the gym and eating a salad every now and again. Even just walking to lectures from your student accommodation rather than taking the bus can help. You don’t want to be looking back on your graduating photos with regret, trust us.
What have you learnt so far in your first year of university? Let us know your insights in the comments!