Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Freshers Fear: Part 1

For many, the time for university is fast approaching. I remember exactly how I felt at this time last year as I was preparing to make the big move 150 miles across the country; excited but also terrified. So for those who are wondering what to expect, I have some words of wisdom for you, from an old second year, to a fresh-faced first year.

1) Everyone is nervous. Honestly. Why wouldn't you be, moving away from everything you've ever known to a new life of uncertainties. You're essentially thrown in the deep end. But you are not alone  - this shared fear will allow you to bond with your new flatmates and friends. Besides, you'll get lost in the excitement before you know it.

2) Set down the rules right from the beginning. You have probably heard a lot of students moaning about how their flatmates steal their milk, but it is a real problem. Of course, if someone takes a bit of your milk on a one-off occasion, it's not really an issue. But when you have your flatmates taking food that you have spent your money on, it does get very tiresome. If you have any alcohol or food that you don't want to be eaten, hide it in your room. (This is obviously within reason - unfortunately I could not hide my ice cream in my room, and could therefore not save it from the hands of my greedy flatmate - twice). Also, this doesn't just apply to food. Living with other students means sharing, so make sure that you let people know if you have issues with them using your cooking stuff. In a perfect world, they would ask you first and then wash it up afterwards. Yet, we are not in a perfect world. There is nothing more annoying than coming home from lectures to make dinner, only to find the pan you wanted is in the sink covered in mould.

3) Even if you don't like drinking or clubbing, go to pre-drinks if it is convenient. When I first moved to university, I struggled with anxiety and avoided alcohol until I was settled. Yet, a flat in my block held a pre-drinks party during the first or second night in freshers week, where I was able to meet my neighbours and become great friends with them. Having had conversations with other blocks, I have found that none were as close as we were, often going out together in groups from the block, or even just popping downstairs for a chat. By going to pre-drinks over the year, I have met some of my best friends, whom otherwise I would not have had the fortune to meet. If you prefer the sober life, the chances are not everyone at pre-drinks will be drinking alcohol.

4) Don't go overboard in freshers week. I know there is the eagerness to go out and meet new people, but this doesn't mean you have to go out clubbing every night. Besides, there are plenty of other ways to meet people, for example societies, lectures, seminars etc. So much happens in a year at university, that you might not even remain friends with those people you met on those initial drunken nights out in bars.

5) Try new things. This is what university is all about. You have a new home and a new lifestyle - why not have some new interests or hobbies to go with it? Push yourself beyond your limits, and you might discover something that you love.

6) Go beyond the university. Explore the city. Quite often, campus universities are out of the city. Personally, I only went into the city a couple of times in first year, leaving all of the exploring until after exams. I honestly wish I had done this sooner, and taken advantage of the places that were nearby - remember, that you will be likely to move into a house in a different area for second year.

7) Remember that you are at university to study. Too many people get caught up in the student stereotype of clubbing and drinking all the time, because first year doesn't count towards the final grade, and only 40% or thereabouts is needed to pass. However, first year is the perfect chance to perfect your work and writing style, and get used to the referencing guides before you get proper marks - make all the mistakes in first year so that by the time second year starts, you already have a pretty good idea how to write a stonking great essay.

8) Make the most of the university services. I made sure that I was known to the mental health services before I arrived in September, just so I had that comfort blanket there should I need the support. You'd be surprised what services your university will offer - make sure to have a look before you go. Don't be ashamed of using academic writing services or asking for help from lecturers - it will allow you to get the most out of your university experience. Don't let that mountain of student debt be for nothing.

9) Don't forget those people back at home. Make sure to check in with your parents every now and then, and keep in touch with your friends from school. University can be a good test to show who your real friends are - it is perfectly normal to not have much contact with friends from home during term time, but once you're back home for the holidays, the friends who really care about you will stand out, eager to your next meet up.

And finally, a slightly sillier one...

10) Invest in slippers - trust me, you never know what is on the floor. (Also just as a side note, NEVER go barefoot into the bathroom, especially if you are sharing a bathroom, and there are boys involved).

Happy moving! Good luck!

P.S. Freshers Flu is NOT a myth.

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