The first year of University is potentially not going to be the best year of your life.
Yes, you heard me, the saying that “your university years are going to be the best of your life” is not always true.
Don’t get me wrong, you may find that first year is the best of your life, but in my experience it wasn’t in many ways.
No one prepares you for the immense changes that you’re going to go. Moving away from home, controlling your own learning, making friends from scratch, taking care of your own health and money management (the worst part).
I remember being ready to leave school to move to York and begin University. I’d been at the same school from Year 7 to Year 13 and while I loved the friends I’d made there and the experience as a whole, I had outgrown the school environment from probably about Year 11.
I found first year became a challenge after the novelty wore off in second term. I realised I would need to work as well as socialise as I received pretty ruthless feedback on some frankly awful essays.
I had no urge to make it to 9am’s and even when I did I found the lectures weren’t worth it and I could have worked better by myself back in my room. However that was one of my biggest problem: I spent a lot of time in my room.
My room was your standard, functional, university campus style room with an ensuite (no complaints there). I made it my own room with photographs, inspirational quotes, bedding, etc. but it never feels like your own space as you can walk along your corridor into your friends room and see an identical version of your own.
I found my first year room isolating as once the heavy slamming fire door was shut I was alone.
Also I did go out and do things, but most of the time it was socialising or working in the library as I only had 7 hours contact a week last year. I did have to 20 set books a term though (not that I managed to read them all).
Anyway, first year will be pretty varied, one minute you feel you’ve cracked it and university is for you, the next you’re crying while watching Netflix with the chicken nuggets you had left over from last nights take away.
So, here are my top tips for getting through the first year of university:
Go to Fresher’s Fair and sign up for too many societies.
This may seem like a really obvious tip, but I went to Fresher’s fair slightly later in the day with some of my flat mates, and I wanted to go through and sign up to different things as I had intended to before arriving.
Instead we just got free pizza and wandered around aimlessly, signing up to things here and there.
In second year I signed up for far more at Fresher’s fair, just as even if you don’t end up doing all of them, or you find that dance-yoga-juggle to Taylor Swift isn’t actually for you then you’ve lost nothing. It’s just fun ways to meet lots of different people.
Leave your room/flat at least once a day.
Staring at the same four walls is never going to be healthy for you, even if you are hungover and need to sleep at least leave your room once to go to the kitchen. If you’re feeling more adventurous then get the bus into town with your friends, or just talk a walk on campus to your friends flat so you’re out and doing something.
Be kind to yourself.
If things don’t go the way you planned then don’t beat yourself up – whether that’s grades, work, friends, societies – don’t be disheartened if university life doesn’t go the way you thought it would straight away.
It will either work itself out, or you’ll end up finding something better than you originally expected and embrace that.
Everyone is in the same boat.
You miss your family, you miss someone cooking for you, you’re not sure the course or university or the accommodation is right for you. Shall I continue? You miss friends from home, your grades aren’t going well, the work is hard and you thought you could drink a lot, but everyone can drink you under the table. Honestly everyone will have at least one thought or feeling that you do.
You won’t be a fresher forever.
Next year you will know exactly what’s going on and have friends to support out. There’s a lot more to be certain of once you’ve got through first year and I personally found that comforting.
Also, your following years will count towards your end grade so go out and socialise more than you normally would, and worry less about your work. Basically take a go hard or go home approach to everything. I did and it was great, exhausting, but great.
Use social media to find potential friends at University.
After my previous post about how bad social media can sometimes make you feel (you can read it here) I have to say this is probably the most important tip.
Universities are brilliant at using social media to inform you about societies, fresher’s week, your accommodation, your college or university set up. Before I came to university I had spoken to 10 out of my 12 flat mates for several weeks before arriving, so I had an idea of who everyone was.
I also found people on my course who lived either in my college or nearby colleges and that started a group chat (everything you do at uni will have a group chat).
Message your seminar pals
I’ve also found that sending a FB message to someone in your seminar or society can make a HUGE difference. If you’re anxious or awkward about making new friends in person, or if it reaches second term and everyone has already consolidated friendships and you feel like you haven’t.
You will bond over the fact that you haven’t done the reading, you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re not sure where your student loan has gone.
Make friends with your flatmates
You new flatmates are your new family. Get to know them, make an effort, get them out of bed when they cba, they’ll thank you for it later. It’s an amazing and unique experience living with brand new people and the friendships you form will create brilliant, mad and ridiculous stories that you will tell for years to come.
How was your first year at University?