I’m now a second year at University, which is both scary and surprising. Considering at the end of Sixth Form I was not interested in going to Uni at all, and would actually laugh at the idea, I’ve managed to somehow get this far. Though, it hasn’t all been rainbows and happiness. It was hard bloody work. For all of you going to University, and even to those that aren’t, here’s a few tips that may help you avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made over the past year:
-Keep an Open Mind-
You may already think you have seen all you can see in this world. You haven’t. For this reason it’s so important to keep an open mind to everything you experience, don’t judge a book, all those cliché sayings. Doing this will allow you to get to know some of the most interesting people out there, some of the most creative people, and it will also help you really get to know yourself. People will appreciate you for listening to their opinions in a conscientious manner, instead of shouting your own over everybody. As quite an opinionated person, this is something I could have done with somebody really explaining to me before I set foot into my new environment.
Keeping an open mind doesn’t just apply towards the people you’ll meet, it’s also really important to remember this during your fresher week activities, in particular, the societies fair. This is a vital chance to sign up to some activities and meet some people outside of your halls. I didn’t sign up for anything. Please, please avoid this. If you want to sign up for the tea-drinking parachuting club, you go for it! You shouldn’t give two thoughts to it, just put yourself out there. University will be one of the only times in your life you will have the opportunity to be as free, and you should make the most of this. It really doesn’t matter if your flatmates don’t sign up for something you want to – meet new people!
– Create a Comfortable Environment –
OK, here’s the basics: your uni halls shouldn’t just be a place for you to collapse in after your ‘mental’ night out & it definitely shouldn’t have the capabilities of hiding stray cats/cones/sign-posts in. Well, unless that’s your idea of comfortable. Your tiny, 5 metre square room is, inevitably, where you’re going to be spending the next year. For this reason, respect it. I didn’t appreciate this at first, and my uni room wasn’t homely at all. Nothing seemed to really match, and this made being away from home even harder.
Do what it takes to make it even a little bit better, plaster pictures on the walls or keep it minimalist, it’s your little space, you decide. It’s easy to get swept up with the excitement of things in the first week and forget about how rewarding it can be to finally own (well, rent) your own little place.
In terms of the communal spaces, such as your kitchen, you can’t control other people. No matter how many passive-aggressive notes you are capable of writing, people are always going to do their own thing. And that’s fine. Yes, it is going to get messy. Yes, it will smell really, really bad and the bins won’t get emptied for weeks. Cleaning rotas never work. That’s the blunt truth of it. This is why it’s exceptionally important to make your own room exactly how you want it. Just avoid arguments about whose plates haven’t been washed in 5 weeks, it’s not worth it.
I found a fairly decent article here about making your uni bedroom just a little bit better (sorry, it is slightly outdated, but it was the only piece I could find that wasn’t particularly sexist…)
– Be Prepared –
Freshers week is really, really fast paced, so it’s important you’re actually ready for your lectures & seminars the next week. Don’t do what I did and ask the seminar tutor for a pen and a piece of paper whilst looking extremely hungover. That will guarantee you an enemy for the entirety of the first year. Buy your pens, buy your paper, buy your books, whatever you’re going to need to guarantee yourself a head start in those first few vital weeks.
Secondly, beware of the vicious statement ‘your first year doesn’t count anyway’. This is not a right of passage to then attend 3 lectures out of 25 and sleep through the rest. Here’s a reality check: you have to at least pass your first year to even attend the second year. You will learn all of the vital skills you need to write your essays in that first year. Treat it as more of a test-run for the forthcoming years. This is also your chance to get to know your lecturers, who will be a huge help and also an academic support network. After all, you’re potentially paying up to £9000 a year for tuition, don’t waste it.
– Have Some Time Out –
By some ‘time out’ I don’t mean some time out getting ‘absolutely slaughtered with the gals #town’, I mean some time away from the drink. Some time to be actually be on your own for a while and adjust properly to this new life you’re living. Don’t become someone that everyone expects you to be, just be yourself. Do not force yourself to go out drinking, and certainly don’t succumb to peer pressure. Do what you want to do.
You don’t have to be around your flatmates 24/7; go and explore the new city you’re living in, snuggle up and watch a film, or even go for a run. At the end of the day, you’ve got to do what makes you happy. I’ve always had respect for people that are truly individual and not a clone of the typical University ‘fresher’.
– Keep in Contact –
Finally, it’s crucial you don’t desert everybody you know from back home just because of this new University life. Particularly your family. Make an effort to call your mum, she’ll be worrying like crazy. People naturally drift apart, but this doesn’t stop you making an effort. Your family have raised you, you have only known your flatmates for a few days, and trust me, true colours take a while to show.
Keep your routine, yes you may not be able to pop home for Sunday roast, but you can at least have a weekly Skype call. I find it incredibly sad when I see Uni students rejecting phone calls from their Mum/Dad, especially thinking about how worried they must be. Plus, they’re going to be doing your washing, so keep on their good side.
I hope this reassures anybody that is feeling a bit strange about Uni life even a little bit better, you’re not the only one 🙂