Dear Freshers- A fourth year's guide to making the most of first year
Niamh Brook- Writer
Well done, you’ve made it! You’ve got into Uni, time to pop the corks and fill the shot glasses. Oh wait, we’re currently living through a global pandemic, so that part of uni might have to be put on hold or at least enjoyed only up until 10pm. Your time at uni this year may differ from those in the past, the infamous social aspect of uni now comes with a full risk assessment and a QR track and trace code just to go to the pub, but the overall essence (I hope) will stay the same.
You’ve come to uni to learn more about a subject you love or at least, to move you that one step closer to your dream job. Though you may be stuck in your halls, please find below my advice for tackling your first year of uni to make it the best, and least stressful as possible.
Do what feels right for you
It’s common at uni (but in particular during Freshers Week) for peer pressure to become the new normal. Desperate to make new friends, many freshers feel the need to do things that they don't particularly want to. Too much alcohol can be consumed, money spent and one too many lectures missed because “first year doesn't count”. Though it doesn’t feel like it, university is now your new normal and will be for the next three to four years of your life. Don’t feel pressured to do everything under the sun in your first few weeks. Do as much as you feel comfortable with and no more.
Don't feel ashamed to miss home
This one affects everyone in their first few weeks. Much like Freshers Week and binge drinking, there is a strange culture that surrounds a university campus that makes you feel as though once you get to uni, you should never miss your parents, your friends or your home. This is just not true. When you move to uni, your life is turned upside down and everything you have grown accustomed to has changed. It’s natural to miss home whether it’s your first month or your last. It happens to all of us. Don’t feel pressured into staying in your halls, if you need a weekend just hop on that train and enjoy yourself (lockdown restrictions allowing), I promise you it will be worth it.
It's easy to feel afraid of failing, especially when everything is so new. If you're desperate to try something, take the risk and push yourself. Join societies, try new things, go to socials, you have the whole world at your feet. Uni is the easiest place to get creative and really explore your interests, but it is also the easiest place to shut yourself away, too afraid to throw yourself into the deep end. Make yourself a promise during your first week at uni, try something once and if you don't like it, you never have to think of it again! Simple. Don’t let the stupid voice inside your head ruin some of the best experiences of your life. It’s even more important to get involved in whatever events you can (be it online or socially distanced) during social restrictions to avoid feeling lonely.
Make sure you take time for you
It’s easy to get swept away with the madness of uni. When you’re not at lectures, you’re doing readings, when you’re not doing readings, you’re with your flatmates or nursing a hangover. It’s so important that you take some time for yourself! Do what you love to do, read a book, watch a film or catch up on some sleep. Don’t let yourself burn out, selfcare is so important during your time at uni in order for you to be at your best.
Don't get into bad habits
As the age old saying goes “first year doesn’t count” and I'm sure that many of us have lived by that at some point or another. First year can be overwhelming, gone are the days information is spoon fed to you, now you’re all on your own. Readings can stack up, research and essay planning can be boring but it’s so important to get into good habits early. Now, I’m not saying to spend every second of your life doing further readings and proofreading essays, but a little bit of work can go a long way and will help so much in the long run. Productivity is key at uni, and I promise getting into good habits at the start will change the way you work for the better.
So, those are my 5 top tips for freshers starting uni this year. Though your first year at university will differ to most, it’s up to you to make the most of every second. Have fun, learn lots and enjoy.