Friday, 5 September 2014

University Tips

Saying as I'm about to start my third year of university I thought I'd make a little university survival guide post for any newbies. It can be a pretty nervous time, at least it was for me, so I wanted to write a little post that might help just one person who's about to head off into the big wide world of uni student life.

This is all based on my own personal experiences and views so things might not apply to everyone. I'm just thinking of things that would of helped me in my situation. I moved to a city a few hours away from home into a student flat just for some background. Second year I lived in a seven person house with my friends and this year I'm in a five person house with generally the same people. Anyway I'll get on to the tips now.
  • Make sure you bring what you need, not too much, not too little.
    This can be applied to if you're moving out or if you're just commuting.
    If you're moving, great! Bring all your essentials; there's a bunch of those lists online, so if you don't know what to take google that. Also remember to take something to decorate your new room too. Postcards, posters, photographs, fairy lights, bunting/flags, maps... anything to give your room a little personality. A plain room can just make you feel miserable. Fancy dress/ costume stuff, face paints, a pack of cards and ipod docks/speakers will make you very popular at parties too. But you don't want to bring too much stuff. An over-crowded, cramped little room might make it hard for you to study and to be honest, I didn't use half the stuff I took to uni.
    Tip for everyone, including you commuters: each lecture/class/seminar will have different things you'll need to bring with you and depending on your course. Check what you'll need, stock up on that stuff, then the night before each classes check what you need to take.
  • Budgeting can be great.
    During my first semester of first year I was very cautious about my money. While a lot of my friends went crazy and spent too much, I managed to have plenty and not worry and I wasn't too tight with my money either, I treated myself to what I wanted but while being sensible. I still wanted to be able to afford decent food in November.
    What I did was make a spreadsheet of what money I had saved and what I was getting from my loan and divided it in reasonable amounts for different things such as rent, food, nights out, travel, cleaning/laundry, ect.
  • Be Social, make friends.
    Self-explanatory and while it sounds scary, everyone is in the same boat so it's not that bad. No matter what you're like, you will find friends. Talk to people before/after your classes (and occasionally during but not too much if a lecturer is talking) and your bound to have things in common with other people taking the same course as you. Meet up before or after lectures and hang out. Go on a night out or just a coffee or to the pub. But socialise when you have the time for it, you get so much free time in first year! I was very shy when I first started uni but managed to gain confidence and be friends with a big group of people.
    If your in living with new people leave your door open as soon as you move in. Talk to your new flatmates, as nerve-racking as it is. Hang out, go to freshers together, take an interest in them and boom more friends!
    Join some university clubs and societies (whatever your interests are, they'll have a club for you. Or even try something new) and then there's more friends! You've just got to get out there, try new things and be brave. This leads nicely too...
  • Not everyone will work out as friends, and that's okay! Don't worry or stress about it!
    This was a pretty big lesson I learned during first year. It wasn't like I had millions of friends before university or anything. Basically I'm a people pleaser. I like people to like me. I hate confrontations with people. So being around lots of very different types of people and forcing myself to interact with them rather than hanging around with all the same people I did at school was different.
    After a few months, people tend to get to know each other and see if they make compatible friends. I had a pretty big friendship group in first year and a huge fight happened in March which made a split in that group. I happened to manage to stay on good terms with everyone while some of those friends dislike each other a lot and haven't stayed friends. But some people just don't mix well and it's fine.
    Compatibility-wise, me and my flatmates were completely different. We hung out, we went to loads of freshers events, chatted in the flat, were pretty polite and everything but after a few months it was pretty obvious that these people weren't that interested in being my friend no matter how much of an effort I made. At the time it mattered a lot to me because I was living with these people. Being in an environment where you feel disliked by everyone isn't great. Especially if that atmosphere is in the place your living. I felt awkward and uncomfortable and knew these people were saying not so nice stuff about me behind my back. I still managed to stay civil with them though as I didn't want the situation to get even worse. I can't say I was depressed because that's a serious thing I was never diagnosed with. But it was just a really dark upsetting time for a few months. Looking back it didn't matter what these strangers who I lived with thought of me in the slightest. It's not the end of the world. I got through it just fine. I just felt like shit in my flat so spent a lot of my time out with friends or exploring the city on my own or doing my work at uni or at the library.
  • You will likely get homesick if you move out. And that's okay.
    Maybe it was the not so great living situation that made me unhappy. For someone else it might not be anything. But I think 75% of people will probably get a bit homesick at one point of another. You can mope for a little while, but don't let it get you down too much. Talk to anyone about it, try and get busy so you have so much to do and won't feel as sad. Maybe take a trip home for a few days if you can. Soon enough you should feel better. If not then again, talk to someone about it. When I was homesick for a few months I wasn't eating enough, I was sleeping too much and just didn't want to get out of bed. I didn't say anything to anyone because I didn't want to bother anyone or make people worried about me. But that was a really silly thing to think and talking about what I was feeling did help. So don't bottle things up.
  • Get your work done. Be Organised.
    I still struggle with the organisation part but once you have your timetable and due dates for projects or exams, get organised and make yourself a schedule and stick to it. You've not only got lectures and studying outside of those lectures. Socialising, exercise, shopping, societies and travelling can take up time too. Plus you have cooking and cleaning if you're away from home too. 
    Don't skip lectures. You are paying for them. Also don't leave work until the last minute. I've done it before and it's far too stressful. Be smart with the time you have and get your work done and do your best. The whole "first year doesn't count to final grades" doesn't mean you can be lazy. You still need to pass. And it's best to get a good passing grade because those look best for work placements and lecturers can see that your trying and you care about the subject, which could also lead to good references. And ask if you need help. That's what lecturers are there for.
    There was weeks in my first year where I would get to uni in the morning and not leave until midnight (and sometimes later) working on editing a film for one of my modules. It turned out that a member of a TV production company came to view the films, chose ours as first place and gave us who worked on that film a week work placement. Pretty valuable for trying to get somewhere in film and TV. So putting in effort does make a difference.
  • If you don't drink, don't worry.
    While a lot of the university freshers week have drinking related events on such as clubbing, it doesn't mean there's no alternatives. My university has plenty of movie nights during freshers. Maybe try one or two club nights, sober or not, and then spend other nights doing alternative events if it's not your thing. People won't judge and if they do you don't want to be friends with them anyway.
    And if you do drink, know your limits!
  • Enjoy yourself!
    Time goes fast. Have fun!

    I hope you all enjoy the year ahead and I hope this helped.
    If you have anymore tips or any questions for me to answer about university, leave a comment!
    Bye :)


  1. This is really useful - I'm just starting my first year and it's really terrifying!

    Kelly x
    Check out my blog ------>

    1. Thanks, I'm glad it could help. Good luck with uni, hope you enjoy it! x