Friday, 15 July 2016

MY UNIVERSITY EXPERIENCE // FIRST YEAR

 As a lot of young people in the UK (including my 18 year old sister - now I definitely feel old) will be heading to University for the first time in September, I've decided to write a short series about my experience.

Everyone's experience will be very different but I hope this can shed some light on any worries or fears you may have about moving away from home, money troubles or whether this is the right path for you.


First Year


Freshers' Week


Freshers' Week was a whirlwind of alcohol-fuelled fun, awkward ice-breakers and realising that no-one actually needed to buy any of the books on the reading list. A lot of mine was spent sitting in our shared kitchen (top floor, Block D, holla) playing Ring of Fire and drinking a hell of a lot of Strongbow.

What I'd recommend if you're worried about making friends? Just say hi. Whenever you see people, just say hello and as you're all in the same boat, you'll find many people will want to continue the conversation and make friends too. I'm not a particularly introverted person so I didn't find it too nerve-wracking introducing myself to the people I shared halls with but it was still easier than I imagined. Also, if you find yourself in the company of people you don't get on with - you don't have to hang round with them.

Say yes to things that are happening in Freshers' week and try your best to pack as much into your schedule as humanly possible. You'll be tired but trust me, you can spend the remainder of the year catching up on sleep.

Moving away from home


You may or may not be having to move away from your family/friends when you go to university but it's not as scary as it may seem. Look at it this way, university is a chance to increase your friendship circle as well as experiencing new cultures, more people's opinions and generally stepping out of your comfort zone. There's also nothing stopping you from experiencing amazing nights out in cities across the country, with the rest of your friends who have also moved away!

Living by yourself also means you gain a lot of independence (hopefully) and get to grips with adult life problems and having to solve them without your parents. Even if all you survive on is beer and pot noodles, the plus is that you're doing it all by yourself.

Studying


The work was easy enough. In first year in most cases, you only need to pass each module to stay on till your second year and the grades don't actually count towards your final university degree at all. I managed to salvage a 'compensated pass' mark (below the required 40 mark but as I was average at everything else I was given the benefit of the doubt) in my web design module, the only one I really struggled with. 

We were given the opportunity to take a free elective and if you get the chance, definitely go for it. This is a module of your own choice, it's either course related or you can take a punt on something completely different or new. I opted for Dance Technique as I'm quite an active person and it was honestly the best choice I made. I met new people, developed my dance skills and it was a hugely welcome break from sitting in front of a Mac or with my head in a book.

Basically, explore new things and learn but don't worry too much. If you attend lectures as much as you can (we can forgive you that one time you were still drunk in the 9am core module...) and keep your head above water then you'll be fine.


Social


Join a team. It sounds cliche and here I am - a hypocrite - as I didn't join any team in my first year. If you're into sport, music, theatre, whatever, see if there's a team you can join to expand your friendship circle. Even if you decide the actual training or rehearsals aren't up your street, you're bound to enjoy the social aspect of being part of the group.

Fancy dress is actually a thing. Rule #1 of moving into any student hall is make sure you have plenty of great (and cheap) dress-up ideas. It's a surefire way to make friends when you're all drunk and dressed like golfers, downing a pint ten pubs in a row. Just me? Okay...

Money


I didn't have a part-time job during my first year of uni and looking back, I'm pretty glad. Although a lot of people are scared off by the dreaded 'tuition fees' it's actually not something you need to worry about at all. Yes, you spend your life paying it off but it's not noticeable in your pay check and it's likely to be a long time before you even have to start.

I got a typical student loan, enough to cover accommodation, food and a little extra. Most of this was spent on going out and buying things I didn't need if I'm honest. One word of advice is: overdraft. Now, please don't get me wrong. BE CAREFUL when using overdraft because it isn't your money and you won't get it free of charge forever. There comes a time you need to pay it off and luckily for me, I spent the Summer after first year earning money from my full time job to put towards this. If it weren't for my overdraft throughout the entirety of the course however, I definitely would've struggled. So if you need to dip in to it? Don't feel bad.



I hope this is marginally useful to anyone who is headed off in September, let me know if you have any other queries or even, if you're a graduate whether you relate to anything I've said already!
Second year experience to come soon...

leanne

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