Monday, 26 December 2016


Monday, 26 December 2016

As we're approaching 2017 and I'm almost beginning the second semester of my final year at university, I figured now would be the perfect time to reflect on my time there and think about the things I wish I'd known as a fresher in my first year. It's often a challenging time for all of us: you question whether uni was the right path for you, have about four mental breakdowns a week, you laugh, you cry, and you make some amazing memories. With all of that in mind, it's still extremely helpful to take some advice from a perfectly experienced third year about the things to avoid, the things to take advantage of, and any general life lessons you can apply to make your first year run a little smoother.

So, here are my top five lessons learnt as a Fresher...


When I applied to university, I didn't quite get the results I was hoping for, and had to make a dozen frantic, panicked phone calls to universities offering spaces for clearing. Unfortunately I had also put off applying for accommodation for so long that the university I settled on had ran out of places for halls.. and I didn't know private accommodation was a thing! My best advice is to plan everything well ahead: sort out where you're going to stay, have a back-up plan in case you don't get into your first choice universities, and definitely ring your landlord to make sure you can move into the shared house you want to on the day you've packed your things.. this rule also applies to work and applying for financial aid such as student finance.  Plan ahead and use a company like Earnest to help save money after graduation by refinancing your student loans. Get it out of the way with as soon as possible and give yourself more time for drinking and socialising! 


Since I had moved into a shared house with second-years who weren't so into going out and partying, I had to take matters into my own hands and throw myself out there. This meant leaving my comfort zone and basically inviting myself to Freshers parties, hall parties, you name it. I would talk to anyone, exchange numbers and requests on Facebook, and made a serious effort to get to know people. I ended up making a best friend at university who happened to be on my course, and a lot of the people you meet in first year you won't end up staying in contact with, but it's nice to have a few new groups of friends to go to socials with. It takes away the feeling of isolation a bit, particularly if you're living far away from home.


For some reason I had a serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in my first year, and would accept invites to everything. I'm pretty sure I missed about 90% of my lectures (I just had to go to Warehouse Tuesdays, Evoque Wednesdays, Cameo Mondays etc. !) but I'm sure my liver and my grades could have used a well-deserved break once in a while. Don't be afraid to say no if you don't particularly feel like going out, especially if you have 9 am lecture the morning after. You'll thank yourself! *my grades certainly thanked me for this in second year as I ended up finishing with a first!*


I hate to say it, but I still can't cook, and I still have no clue how to budget my money. If I could do it all again, I would definitely teach myself how to cook easy, simple recipes in my first year (alternating between pasta and cheese on toast every night gets boring, real quick). Learning to cook healthy food is so important because you definitely fall into the trap of gaining weight in your first year also, due to all the takeaways and £1 vodka red bulls! And of course, learn to budget (before you get to university, ideally..). I had a weekend job for a short while during my first year but sooner or later it got in the way of me completing my assignments on time and to my best ability, so maybe avoid ordering Dominos pizza every week all for yourself and trust me: you won't use that Freshers wristband. Not once.


All in all, first year shouldn't be taken too seriously. A lot of people would disagree with me on that and say that I'm exactly the type of person to avoid during first year (sorry, bad influence) but the grades you get during first year generally don't count towards your mark for your overall degree. Use this time and free pass to go out as much as possible, explore your new city, try joining a few societies even if you only go once and just end up drinking anyway. Second and third year is all about buckling down to make sure you get a decent 2.1 or first and whilst I wouldn't recommend locking yourself in your room for the last two years, definitely lap up the nights out and unavoidable mistakes you will make in your first year. All in all, just have fun!

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