Yes, I admit it. I’m feeling really nostalgic right now because for the past three years I have been wrapped up in the world of Fresher’s Week and now…now I am sat in my new home on a Sunday evening thinking about getting a good night of sleep for work tomorrow.
Don’t get me wrong, I am really, really glad that university is over. I didn’t have the greatest experience and looking back, I wish I had done a lot of things differently. But it’s the end of an era, and not so easy to get over. Hindsight is a wonderful thing – and it would be wrong of me not to share my words of “wisdom” (if it’s not wisdom, it’s just nonsense. You decide for yourselves!).
So this weekend, all the excited new university students moved into their flats and met their housemates for the following year. I remember that buzz of anticipation for all that was to come over the course of my degree. It’s that buzz that makes me wish I was doing it all over again.
But anyway, before I get all mushy, I’ll get on with my top ten pieces of advice for Freshers.
- Make your room feel like home – throughout my first year, one of my flatmates told me every time they came into my room that it felt like home. In my first week there, I made efforts to stick up posters (naughty blue-tack!) and keepsakes from “before uni”, I made sure I had my favourite teddies sat on my bed, I ensured that I’d actually unpacked all of my boxes. It helped to make the room feel less like a hotel room!
- Don’t skip lectures – I’m sorry, I’m really sorry to break this to you, but skipping lectures is nothing but bad news. For most of us, first year didn’t count and so commitment to attendance wasn’t exactly high. However, it wasn’t until third year that I realised how much I regretted the lack of attention I paid then.
- As an extension of No. 2, don’t miss opportunities – your uni will probably have various tutorials, with personal tutors, with essay skills specialists… take every opportunity you’re given. I have a couple of reasons for this: firstly, you’re paying a ridiculous amount of money to study, make the most of the resources that you’re offered. Secondly, the time you spend honing your skills in first year, while you’re not ridiculously swamped with work, will be worth it when it comes to third year.
- Be wise with your money – that overdraft is tempting, I know. But think sensibly, make a budget, start a savings account. You’ll have enough for drunken nights out if you budget for them, and you won’t be picking up pennies in the street by the time you graduate. You have no idea how much I wish I had done this.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – I made friends with someone from day one of university, and then they dropped out at the end of first term. I’d spent so much time with them that when I came back from Christmas holidays, I realised that I hadn’t really got any other friends. Awwwwwwwkward.
- Be considerate of others – I feel like an annoying Mum right now, but one of my biggest pet peeves at uni was when flatmates would act inconsiderately. Don’t wake people up rolling home at 3am and don’t forget to wash up – especially if you’re borrowing someone else’s stuff!
- Go to as many events as you can in Fresher’s Week – go get all those goodie bags, all the cheap posters (which will definitely be cheaper next time the sale comes around), learn about when various things go on during the week, go to the Student’s Union and make friends (I didn’t do nearly enough of this) and go and dance at the terrible bands your uni has hired. It’s all part of the experience!
- Ask your lecturers questions – they’re there to support you. Make the most of it. Email them, see them in their office hour, get to know them and learn that they are your guides through your studies. Take their advice (but with a pinch of salt).
- Get a part-time job – you’ll be less strapped for cash if you’re earning money too, but that’s not the only reason I think you should get yourself a job. You’ll learn how to manage your time effectively, you’ll meet new people and you’ll be forced to get out of the house – even better if your job is at uni, because then you’ll have a reason to get yourself to campus!
- Go home – some students I knew literally never went back home to see their families and pre-uni friends. Don’t miss out on quality time with loved ones.
And that’s it. Have fun, Freshers.