Starting your first year at university is daunting, scaring, uncertain but very exciting. As a happy student now in their second semester at university, I thought I would share with you my top tips on how to get settled and comfortable at university, and some advice on how to cope with the more difficult times.
- Be brave! It sounds like a strange thing to say, but it’s key. When you arrive, don’t sit in your room for hours on end and avoid your flatmates because you’re scared to meet them. They are in the same situation as you, knock on people’s doors, say hi, get to know people. Of course there will be a few awkward moments, considering you are all strangers, but you are living with these people so don’t be scared.
- Leave your door open. This is the perfect way to break awkward boundaries on the first few days of moving in. When you’re moving your boxes and clothes into your room, leave your door open so people can pop their head in to say hi and introduce themselves in a chilled, non-pressured way. It also makes you come across as approachable and inviting, leaving a good first impression on people.
- Take every opportunity you can to meet new people. I was one of the last people to move into my floor in my halls, so everyone already knew each other. When I arrived, two girls from across the hall came to my flat to introduce themselves and invite me to their pre drinks later on that evening. I was overwhelmed as I was not planning on going out that night, and I didn’t know anyone at this point. But I went to their pre drinks across the hall all by myself, super nervous, and I did feel very out of place, but once everyone starting playing games, I calmed down and felt more settled as I got chatting to everyone and felt welcome soon enough. So in the first few days, accept as many of these invitations as you can to get to know people.
- Try not to hibernate in your room. Try to get over the fear of going to the kitchen to make your dinner incase there is someone in there. The more time you spend with your flatmates, the more comfortable you will get with each other. So don’t eat your meals in your room all the time, try and socialise.
- Don’t feel pressured to go out. Of course the majority of first year students will go out every single night for the first couple of weeks, but if you’re a bit too hungover, or just fancy a chilled movie night in, suggest it to people! I’m certain there will be a few other people who fancy a night in too. And if not, just take a in night for yourself, you won’t be missing out, there will be countless more nights out that you can go to.
- It’s okay to cry. If you find yourself sitting alone in your room, crying under the covers about missing home, missing your parents, fed up of going out, fed up of late nights and surrounded by constant drinking…it’s okay. The first semester of university is a complete rollercoaster for your emotions. You are not alone. It’s okay to feel like this. Let yourself cry, let yourself hide in your room for the night if it all gets a bit too much. Don’t bottle it all up.
- If things get hard, don’t run away. If you feel like its all getting a bit much, try not to jump on the first train home. Try and tough it out, if you make it through a tough couple of days, you will feel like you’ve achieved something, and you’ll feel ready to take on the rest of the term. Try and make it a couple of weeks before going home.
- Get involved. The best advice I can give to freshers is to go to the societies fair and sign up to something. If you want to try something new or have a hobby you want to continue at university, join a society! You’ll be surprised as you how many societies there are out there. Societies are an amazing way to meet new people, find a new hobby, continue a hobby from home and to give you something else to do with your time. Obviously your course should be your main priority, but you’ll be surprised how much free time you’ll have, especially in first year. The best decision I have made at university so far is joining the Musical Theatre Society. I have made best friends for life and get to continue my other passion in life on a regular basis.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get a first on every assignment you do. University grading systems are completely different to sixth form and collage gradings that you are used to. It’s tougher and harsher at university, don’t expect to get firsts and 2.1’s in everything you do, especially in the first year. Even if your course is something you have studied for years before, you won’t be used to the style or techniques you need to get high grades. So take those thirds and passes on the chin and take your tutors feedback onboard, you will improve with time and practice.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether you are struggling to understand the content of one of your modules, or you are finding it hard to cope with university life away from home…someone will always be there to help you. Email your tutor any questions you have, or to arrange an extra session where they can talk through any issues you’re having. Go to the student support centre (or whatever your university’s equivalent is) and ask for help on any personal issues you have. You are not alone, someone else will be having the same issue as you too.
What are your top tips for surviving the first year of university?