Its been 3 years since I first ventured off to university and while the details of freshers are seriously hazy I can remember how I felt at the time so vividly. The classic mix of utterly terrified but crazily excited as it suddenly dawned on me that I was hundreds of miles from home, in an unknown city I'd only visited once and living with complete strangers. But fast forward a few years, and a lot of mistakes, and returning to university now kind of feels like home (big up Southampton!). Here are 10 tips I wish I'd know 3 years ago.
Pick a subject you really enjoy. You're going to be studying this in intense detail for at least the next 3 years and your choice will likely influence your career so it's really important to pick something you are genuinely interested in and think you will enjoy. This is one I definitely learnt the hard way back when I began a law degree in 2012, but switching courses was the best decision I could have made.
Get organised and get a planner, or use the one on your phone! The thing about uni is that not only do you need to remember when your exams, coursework and lectures are, you also need to remember when societies, socials, part time jobs, volunteering days, gym classes, birthdays and student loan days are. For those of us who aren't exactly born organisers having it all written down makes life so much easier, and also massively decreases the chance of missing that important meeting with your tutor because you totally forgot.
Having a healthy lifestyle is important. While suddenly having total freedom to stay in bed until the early afternoon with lots of pizza and chocolate is so fun to start with, be careful that you don't let your new uni lifestyle start to affect your confidence, productivity or well being. Joining an active society or going to gym classes like Zumba can be a really fun way to stay in shape and meet new people, while finding a balance between vegetables and fruit and dominos and ice cream is also pretty vital.
Don't feel you need to change yourself to fit in. I won't pretend that freshers isn't very club and drink orientated but if you're not enjoying it you definitely won't be alone and there are so many other fun things to get involved with if pub and club crawls aren't your cup of tea! Similarly if you don't feel yourself clicking with your flatmates don't worry too much as there are so many other chances to meet new people, and for a lot of students the majority of friends come from their course and societies.
Do something you never imagined you could. University is such an amazing opportunity to try so many new clubs and activities that you've never even heard of before, there is literally a society for everything! Whether it's the circus society, rock climbing, theatre club or pole fitness give something unexpected a go, you might end up loving it and if you don't no one's going to make you go back!
There's nothing wrong with admitting you've made a mistake. Whether you've picked the wrong subject, failed a coursework assignment or spent the entirety of your student loan in the first month never be ashamed to admit you've got slightly off track, and then take steps to fix the problem. Speaking to your tutor, parents or a student support service and letting them know you're struggling will definitely help in the long run.
Remember your student loan has to last until January. Suddenly having your bank balance looking healthier than it has in 4 months is such a good feeling that it can be very tempting to just go out and spend half the loan in Topshop, Lush and a local nightclub in the first couple of days. But when its mid-December and you have about £7 to last you until January loan day you might regret your early over spending, so while no ones expecting you to not have a slight spending spree make sure you're at least slightly sensible with it!
Don't completely ignore careers until graduation. As a third year who still isn't sure what they're going to do with their life, I can't recommend trying to figure this out early enough! Ok so you may not have that sudden epiphany of what you want to do in the future straight away, but sometimes its just as important to discover what you don't want to do and go from there. There are so many opportunities to get involved with volunteering, internships and part time jobs at uni that it would be such a waste to not do any and then panic at the end over trying to bulk up your cv.
Take some time out to just relax. Whether it's going for a coffee, reading a load of blogs, watching films with friends or getting way too excited over your new adult colouring book make sure you have some time to unwind and forget everything that's stressing you out. University can be a really stressful time, particularly around exams and coursework deadlines, and for most people having a balance of revision and down time is crucial.
Pick your housemates wisely. There can often be a lot of pressure on students to have decided on who they're living with and signed a housing contract by November, but signing too early could be a mistake. It takes time to get to know people and it may be that by February you've drifted from your current flatmates and are wishing you were going to live with your course or society friends. Of course, some people have amazing first year flatmates that they love living with into second and third year, but if you're not 100% sure waiting a bit longer might be a better move than signing early.
If you're at university, are thinking of going or have already been let me know what you think of these tips below! I'd also love to have some new blogs to read so be sure to leave a link if you have one!
Thanks for reading, Georgia xxx
Thanks for reading, Georgia xxx