I start this article, as I started my first ever article;
“It’s fair to say that September 2015 is fast approaching on us all. It’s slowly creeping back around and for some of us, that means preparing to start back to schools, colleges, sixth forms, jobs and so on. For others, it means starting back to university in our second and third years and for some lucky students, it means starting first year at university. What does that mean? FRESHERS YEAR. However, some of you may be having doubts about going, others may be questioning what they’ll do come September. Is that you? Read on and I’ll tell you just why university is so exciting.”
At this point last year I’d reached a point where I decided that I wanted to share my experience experience and journey through articles – though this article was not written for my own personal WordPress, it was still the first article I ever wrote regarding my experiences at university and this sparked life into the very blog that you read today.
A year on and I’ve finished Second Year and I’m about to begin my Third Year at university, I bet you’re questioning whether or not I actually have anymore information to pass on regarding why university is so exciting, well, think again. For you First Years/Freshers you have an awful lot coming your way – a mixture of feelings and emotions are pulsing through you right now and it’s not long until your journey begins. Recently I’ve spent time on The Student Room and come across a lot of Freshers sharing their worries and concerns regarding starting university and although a lot of them are common worries and feelings, I’ve come around to saying a lot “they are not uncommon and you aren’t alone” and realised that a lot of people are drawn to the ‘negative’ thoughts of university, so I’m here to tell you why university is exciting and why you should look forward to it!
- The Independence
The thought of full independence can scare quite a lot of people when moving to university halls or student accommodation and it’s understandable, the majority of people have lived with their parents or guardians as they’ve grown up and had a decent way of living so the thought of moving away and having to cook, clean and look after yourself is terrifying. Had your pants washed and neatly folded in your room? (or chucked on THE CHAIR!) – well, no more! (I mean, you’ll make a new THE CHAIR when at university so at least that remains constant). Having your own independence is fantastic and will really help you grow as a person. You’ll learn how to cook new meals – some quick and easy, others will become your ‘speciality’, you’ll learn of new cleaning products you never knew existed and settle into a way of living that is comfortable and right for you. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a small minority of students that enter this lifestyle and it just isn’t for them – they aren’t ready and that is perfectly okay as well. It isn’t for everyone and just because it didn’t work for you now, doesn’t mean it never will. It just means you need more time.
JUSTGEORGEJ TIP: I’d suggest, before going to university, learning to do a shop by yourself and understand a roughly budget that is needed for said shop. At the same time, purchase a student cook book and get cooking some meals and learn quick and easy tricks to keep you going!
- Having Your ‘Own Place’
This one loosely links into the previous comment but at the same time, is one on it’s own. Think about it this way, if you are living in halls, you have your own room and living area – unlike that of being at home. You can make it how you want and enjoy it and if you move into a student house in your first year – which some people do, you can really make ‘a house a home’ and make it comfortable and really make it that home away from home. I understand that what you can do to your living space in halls is limited but you can still make it look nice.
JUSTGEORGEJ TIP: Take a few pictures of friends and family as well as some decorations – just a few, enough to make it homely but not too much as to make you feel homesick.
- The Social Side
Yes, it’s an obvious one but think of the social side of things! You are about to make a lot of new friends and get ‘up close and personal’ with them real quick. Be prepared. This is a daunting thought for quite a few students but at the same time, is something to look forward to. On your first day say “hi!” to everyone you come across, shake hands and get those introductions in there as you are moving stuff in, if you’ve moved in before someone else, offer to help them move some stuff around and generally, just be open to being approachable to people and people being approachable to you. At university you’ll make friends through your accommodation, through your course, through societies, through friends of friends and so on and so fourth – therefore, your social outreach is about to grow! Make the most of it!
JUSTGEORGEJ TIP: On moving in day, take some cakes or sweets and place them in your communal living area with a note reading something like “Hello, feel free to take one – also, don’t be afraid to come and say hi! Room **” and so on – this works like a treat. ALSO purchase a door stop and on your moving in day, prop your door open so people can pop in and say hi as they walk on by.
- Furthering Your Passion
Chances are you’re about to go to university to study a subject that you are extremely passionate about – therefore, just think that you are furthering your passion! You are going on a course that is going to stretch your mind and skills and knowledge of a subject area you like/love and want to get to know more. Read books from the reading list and some out of the reading list – read for passion and for fun and because you want to know more. Indulge your questions and queries, talk to your lecturers and enjoy yourself!
JUSTGEORGEJ TIP: If you get to a point and you aren’t enjoying your course- THAT IS OKAY. Your allowed to realise that what you’ve chosen to study isn’t for you – some people discover that and it is okay! Make sure you research your course and modules before starting so you are prepared for what you are going to study.
Whilst at university there are a world of opportunities available to you – use them! Say yes! During the time on your course, you’ll meet guest lecturers and people that can really be useful for knowledge of your course and the real world – they can become useful contacts. Take a number or an email address and make sure to use them if you are struggling or need help – 99.9% of the time they will be happy to help! Even through societies and what not you’ll have the opportunity to meet people you never thought you would and do things you never thought you could – try everything that comes your way and really build up these opportunities!
JUSTGEORGEJ TIP: If you have a question that wasn’t answered in lecture (whether it be your normal lecturer or a guest lecturer) don’t feel like a ‘geek’ for staying behind and asking some questions. Often lectures and guest lecturers love people coming to talk to them about the lecture they gave and will be more than happy to answer your questions.
- Partying (E.g. Freshers)
Now, when it comes to freshers, there is a massive stereotype surrounding it and I say stereotype for one reason – yes, freshers is basically a week (or two) long party of drinking and clubs and bad mistakes (but great memories also) but at the same time, there are plenty of events and such to take part in! One thing a lot of people ask over on The Student Room is whether or not “they have to drink” – answer? No. It’s like anything “you don’t have to drink to have fun”. You can still attend parties and clubs and have a good dance and make some memories without being drunk – never feel pressured into doing anything you don’t want to but PLEASE don’t feel like you can’t attend freshers events because you don’t want to drink because that’s fine and freshers events (especially the ones at your SU) are designed as a social gathering to meet new people when you first start university and to let off a little steam before lectures start. Enjoy it!
JUSTGEORGEJ TIP: Attempt to find a ‘planner’ of events that is happening over the course of your Freshers week – plan out what you want to go too and try to go to as much as possible! ALSO if you see people buying Freshers tickets already for clubs and events, don’t panic! Some people are guaranteed to get into uni depending on their offer and others like to plan ahead – there will always be tickets going spare if you decide to buy once you know for certain!
What do I mean by this? Well, people always say that going to university is about discovering yourself and really growing as a person and for the majority, that is true. Throughout your time at university you will grow as a person whether you see it or not but don’t be afraid of the experience – there is so much for you to learn and do and partake in – don’t sit on the side lines. Indulge your passions and really, really enjoy yourself as best you can. I’m not saying university is a walk in the park, because it isn’t, and there will be stressful times, but try your best to enjoy every moment – the good and the bad.
JUSTGEORGEJ TIP: It’s a simple one but don’t be pushed out of your comfort zone. Obviously I understand that some people can’t just do all these things as easier as they are said and what I am to do is to encourage you to do things. I’m not saying you MUST do them – but try, university is about pushing your boundaries a bit but if you aren’t comfortable, then don’t. Stick to what you know.
- New City, New Start
For most of your first years, the university you have chosen is in a completely new city to the one you know. This means new city, new start. You may have bad memories where you have grown up – you may not, but either way, see university as a new chapter – a blank slate! Therefore, build yourself up all over again if you want. Explore the city, find your local pub, find your favourite restaurant or park to sit in, your favourite place to shop – know that city inside and out. Make it become ‘home’ to you. Enjoy having a new place to explore at an age where you can appreciate it.
JUSTGEORGEJ TIP: In Freshers week, explore as much as possible with people you barely know! It’s fun and exciting and a good way to explore the city as different people will be drawn to different attractions so see where you end up and oh! Take plenty of pictures.
And finally, I can only end this article with the way I ended the original one…
“All I can say is at the end of it, you just have to experience it.
Everybody is in the same boat as you. Everyone feels the same way in the run up to September. It’s a new chapter of your life, you haven’t experienced it before, too right it’s going to scare you. I assure you though, what is coming your way isn’t just exciting, it’s (insert every word a thesaurus comes up with for exciting). That’s what it is.
Again, I repeat, you just have to experience it.
Enjoy it. Embrace it. It’ll all make sense and feel natural soon. If you are still feeling nervous, check out the internet. There are plenty of pages and websites that offer helpful hints, tips and experiences. Like I said, you aren’t alone. Remember?”
And this is the words of me from a year ago and I still believe what I wrote back then and now, I have a whole other year of university under my belt.
Best of luck First Years,