Starting university this year? A bit anxious? Don’t fret, here are my insider’s words of wisdom to get you through that first year
For those of you who have just got your results and are going to the university of your choice, congratulations. For those of you who didn’t get their first choice, or went through clearing and are now going somewhere new, fear not. If you didn’t get in this year, don’t give up, taking a year out is good to reassess what you really want, and how you want to proceed. Everything happens for a reason, regardless of whether you can see it at the time. Listed below are some of the things I learned in my first year.
- You’ll end up where you’re meant to be
Before I went to university that is what people told me. I have found this to be one hundred per cent true. People preach that in order to get a high calibre job you need to go to a prestigious university. The fact of the matter is that the majority of students don’t end up at Oxbridge, and are still hugely successful. Aim high and work hard, but remember, it’s less about where you end up and more about whether or not you’re happy there. What matters most about any opportunity is what you make of it. If you ask most university students they’ll say that their university is the best, they love it and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. What does that tell you! If you don’t like it at first, give it a few weeks, get to know the people and the place. If you still don’t like it you can always leave.
- You’ll meet the friends you’ll have for the rest of your life
It’s true, you’ll meet your best friends at university. Unlike school you will meet a wide array of people. It’s pretty cool living in the student bubble, quite quickly you’ll get to know a lot of people, and you’ll bump into them everywhere. You will find people there in the societies and clubs you join, the clubs you party in, and the less enjoyable gatherings otherwise known as lectures and seminars. Soon enough you will find amazing people from numerous different backgrounds, countries even, and you’ll soon wonder how you ever lived without them.
- You have the freedom to do whatever you want
Yes, that’s right. You can do what you want, when you want without anyone telling you off. That means your mum will no longer nag you to clean your room, do your homework or come home at a reasonable hour. It’s strange at first, because after the craziness of Freshers has died down you’ll have so much spare time between lectures and seminars. Living independently is liberating, but if it gets too adult for you don’t worry, simply ask your friends, family or university for help.
- You’re unlikely to find a work-life balance in your first year
If you do you’re some sort of superhuman. In first year your social life will most likely take precedence. Don’t stress too much about work in your first year, you’re in a new environment, a new educational institute and have a new lifestyle. It takes time to get your bearings and figure out how you work best. The students who consistently raise good points in lectures and have actually done all the readings may not do as well as you think, and they may not have as much fun as you. At the end of the day we all study differently, some people are methodical and work consistently from day one , some people work best when there’s more pressure. No matter what your methods are you can still gain good results. I took first year as the trial year, I’ve figured out what parts of my degree I like, what societies and clubs I’d like to focus on and what sort of routine I need.
- The possibilities are limitless
When I went skydiving, I accidentally landed three miles off the airfield in a random field, gathered my parachute, climbed over two fences, walked to the road and hitchhiked a ride back to the Skydiving Centre; I thought to myself, ‘here’s something I never thought I’d do at university!’.
There are hundreds of societies offered at universities across the country like Windsurfing, Praying Mantis Kung Fu, Acapella Groups, Bhangra, even board games. Never again will you have as many opportunities at your doorstep. Embrace them and try new things. In a few days I will be trekking to Machu Picchu in Peru for Worldwide Cancer Research as part of a university charity initiative. If you told me two years ago that I’d be doing these things at university I wouldn’t have believed you. Once you start to experience these new and exciting possibilities it opens your eyes to what you can achieve in the world.