It’s currently Friday night and I have no plans…what better time to write a blog post? Right?
Recently, a bunch of my social media friends have been posting about the start of their exciting new adventures – with the vast majority flying the nest to attend university and live independently for the first time in their lives. I feel oddly nostalgic seeing these posts, as I have completed my Bachelors, had the time of my life, battled my way through a Masters degree and successfully entered the adult world! Now, looking back on my time at University and reflecting upon the experiences I shared with my (then) new friends, in a new city, I realise that I learned a substantial amount of life lessons during this period in my life.
With that being said, I thought it would be nice to document some of the things that I believe are important to remember when beginning a new chapter, such as starting University. Not only do I believe these lessons to be useful to navigate your way through education with the least drama, but also just to help you feel more relaxed, less stressed and able to enjoy the experience to the highest extent.
#1 – Go out of your comfort zone.
As a self-confessed introvert, I know that this is much easier said than done. Being quite an anxious person, I often find it difficult to push past my fears and worries and do something “out there”. However, all of the times I have been strong enough to do this, I have been SO glad that I did. Whether it is something like going and introducing yourself to your new flatmates, or joining a new society, or volunteering to be on the new class committee, you are likely to gain experience and enjoy your time at uni much more when you push through your usual bubble of comfort.
#2 – Be open to new kinds of people.
I mean this in more ways than one, but the main goal here is to be accepting of many kinds of people. Whether that is people of different ethnicity, sexuality, religion, style or whatever else it may be…I promise you this will be one of the most interesting aspects of university. Meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures is fascinating, and it teaches you so much about life. Being from a fairly small city in the North of England, I had experienced only a small fraction of diversity compared to that I was exposed to in Leicester. People are full of fascinating stories, compelling adventures and can also teach you a whole lot about yourself. Be accepting, spread love and make friends with people you maybe otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to.
#3 – Find a healthy balance.
Don’t get me wrong, university is FUN. I mean, once you have survived Freshers Week (or Fortnight, as we had it!) you will continue down a path of crazy partying, jagerbombs and late nights for much of your time at university. However, I do think it is important to remember why you went to university in the first place. It’s okay to want to succeed, achieve high grades and have a good time in the meantime. Trust me, after experiencing graduation day for myself, it is extremely clear that those who didn’t work hard but did play hard, regret it in the end. Whether they skipped out on one or the other, it’s always best to find a balance that suits you.
#4 – You don’t need to pack EVERYTHING.
Take my word for it on this one guys, I was that housemate who rocked up to my new flat with a whooooole truckload of unnecessary crap. I had gone to town on new purchases, every kind of item of clothing I ever thought I would need (I didn’t), several appliances that it turned out were provided at the accommodation…the list goes on. If you are going to university far from home, fair enough, pack what you can from the get go, as travelling home and back with suitcase loads of stuff wont be fun, however, I will say this. You probably don’t need that iron you were planning on buying, or the kettle, or the 24 notepads…it is much more effective to arrive at the accommodation, see what is needed, and then buy it in your new place. Not only does it save car space, but it also saves you a lot of money. You will find when you get there that, if certain items are not provided, you and your flatmates are likely to split costs on needed appliances and what not.
#5 – Things you WILL need, however…
I’m not going to attempt to sit here and list EVERYTHING you will need at university, I mean, that would be pretty ridiculous. Despite being subject dependent, I do think that a vital list of things you will need during your course is as follows;
- sticky notes and page tabs
- a reliable laptop or tablet
- pens/pencils/highlighters/coloured pens
- folders, lots of folders!
- exercise books – one for each module, trust me on this one.
- optional but definitely useful – a printer. University printing costs tend to be ridiculous!
#6 – Need a job?
Working during university can be a great additional way to make friends and fund your new experiences. However, it can also be quite stressful when trying to balance work, school and play. Always remember the importance of your studies. But, at the same time, do put yourself and your health at the top of your priorities. What I am trying to say is that you have to remember to have some “me” time, a social life, and some well-deserved off time. It’s a tough call when you need the money, but if it starts to become a struggle, there’s always people you can turn to at the university for advice and ways to balance your time. Finding a job within the university is always a great idea, as they’re understanding of your term times and how much you can handle. You can usually check out your student union website for such information and available vacancies.
# 7 – Be yourself!
I don’t care how ‘weird’ you may think you are, how ‘out there’, how different, how shy or how loud you might be, ALWAYS be yourself at university. Not only will this help you make friends with likeminded people who will stay in your life forever, but it will also make you a much more likeable person to others. As humans we like things that are genuine, open and true. As well as this, you will have a much more enjoyable and comfortable time at university if you can always show your true colours, and do not feel like you have to hide behind anything. If you have had a hard time at school, or don’t quite feel close to your existing friends at home, this is your chance at a new start, to experience life in the way that you choose, take it with both hands and run with it. Do you, and don’t let anyone tell you different.
#8 – Enjoy it!!
Well, that finalises my top tips for starting university. I hope you enjoyed this post and enjoy your university experience even more. Good luck and enjoy it! It will be some of the best years of your life.
Let me know what your favourite university experiences have been, I would love to hear them!