I’m aware that it’s coming to the time where people are heading to Uni, September has rolled around and there will be thousands of excited, nervous and apprehensive people waiting to move to knew cities, live with new people and learn new things. I thought that I would write a blog post this week about exactly this, describing how I felt before and during my freshers and general first year of uni. I’ll include my thoughts on how I’d change my approach and any tips that I’d give my past-self and as a result want to give my readers.
University really is for most of us, the biggest and scariest thing we will have done to date. It’s the time where you really have to be self-sufficient. You have to do your own washing, buy and cook your own food and there’s no one there to tell you to get up and get to your lectures or do your uni work. Whilst the freedom sounds amazing, it can be something that you find extremely daunting.
The scariest thing for me was to be meeting new people; being at the same school since I was 4, I was extremely comfortable at school and never really had to make new friends entirely on my own or have to go into a room and know no-one. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to find people that I clicked with and had things in common with, or that people would even like me. I found myself initially almost hiding in my room, but that’s where one of my tips comes in, just get out there! You have to go and socialise at some point, whether you feel like it or not, putting it off will only make you feel more anxious. As my recently confidence blog post states (Link HERE, (shameless plug))…fake it! Chances are most of your flatmates will be feeling anxious too, so be the one to break the ice and make the first move, you won’t regret it!
Be confident in the amazing, clever and full of potential person that you are and have faith that you have loads to offer to people and that you will make amazing friends. You’ve got to at least 18 years of age making friends and keeping friendships, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t do the same again!
Talking about confidence, that leads me onto my next point; be confident… socially and academically. One of the things I struggled most with was getting my first few assignment grades back. It was a total shock to the system to get pretty poor grades back from my tutors, with negative feedback and what felt like virtually no encouragement. I started to question my ability and think that I wasn’t going to be able to cope with the workload or come out with a satisfactory grade at graduation. My piece of advice for this is do not worry! For most people, first year doesn’t count, so your grades really will not define your end of university grade, nor the opportunities you will have post university. After at least a long summer and potentially a gap year away from studies, getting your writing and studying mojo back can take some time, so fear not if your grades aren’t perfect from the get go. Additionally, I found that writing at Uni was totally different from the essays I would write for A-levels, and this definitely took some adjusting too, you will naturally come on so far throughout your university experience, so don’t be too hard on yourself, trust the process. If you want proof of this, feel free to contact me and I would happily send you the essays I submitted during first year, which I can now see were fairly atrocious, and the huge contrast compared to my final essays. When I look back at the essays I wrote, I can’t see that they’re written by the same person, have faith in your ability and the fact that you have got the grades you needed and been chosen to attend the university you are attending, they thought you were good enough and capable…so believe it yourself!
Whilst you are at university to obviously study and learn, I really think that the main focus of first year or at least your first term, should be have fun and meeting people. Making friends, getting comfortable with the university and having a good time are so important because they will make your university experience, there’s plenty of time to spend in the library and writing essays. I wish I had someone to give me my own advice, to tell me not to sweat the small stuff and to relax a bit more and go out a bit more. Whilst I am by no means saying that you shouldn’t try your hardest and respect your university assignments, one of the pieces of advise I’d give my past self is, don’t take it too seriously, don’t stay in reading, go out and meet new people and have a good time!
Another bit of advice I have is to make as many friends as you can, be nice to everyone and give everyone a chance. You really don’t know how you are going to gel with and who you aren’t, don’t be judgemental. I found that I really didn’t gel with any of my flat, after speaking to a few of them before uni I was convinced that I would be totally satisfied with those 5 people and wouldn’t feel the need to make many more additional friends. I was totally wrong about this and after 3/4 weeks of only spending time with my flat, I soon realised that myself and my flatmates weren’t very similar and that I would be better off making new friends. My main problem was that by this time, people had made friends, made groups, people had done a lot of their socialising and I almost felt like it was too late to bang on the door of a different flat and put myself out there. Please take advantage of freshers as a time to meet as many people as you can to really find out who you think you will have the best time with. I was so lucky that whilst I didn’t meet best friends in my flat like a lot of people, I did make some amazing friends on my course. One of my highlights and fondest memories was of myself walking to Uni and having someone creep up on me to start walking and talking with me, asking me if I was from Leicester and saying I looked familiar. My now good friend Lucy recognised me and did the really brave thing of coming up to me and starting a friendship, I appreciated that so much and we were inseparable after that day. I’ll always remember that with a warm feeling inside, so if you find yourself in Lucy’s shoes and you recognise someone, do what she did…you might find yourself a great friend! Love you Lucy! xx
My penultimate tip is to join societies and actually go to them. I did the joining of societies, but I was too afraid to go or ended up being too lazy to go. I now realise that this would have been such a good way to meet knew people and also make the most of the free time that I had by doing something worthwhile. It’s great to talk about in interviews and on your CV and is just generally a great character building exercise, as well as almost guaranteeing you an additional reason to go out every week!
If you do feel too anxious to knock on peoples doors or go to socials, then definitely just be really smiley at lectures and sit next to different people and get talking before lectures. You’ll probably find that there will be tonnes of introductions and chances to speak to your neighbours in lectures, so take advantage of this because this is where you’ll find likeminded people with shared interest…I made friends for life on my course!
My final tip is to simply be patient. Things might not go to plan perfectly straight away, but give it some time and really stick it out, keep going to lectures and keep being positive and giving it your all, you might find it all falls in to place like it did for me. I know of lots of people who get to uni, initially hate it and want to quit, but who give themselves ‘just another few weeks’ and end up totally changing their mind and never looking back. It’s such a scary thing and I am both envious and totally not, but predominantly totally green with envy! I would do absolutely anything to be in your position and if I could turn back time I would do my uni experience over and over again, I am so glad that I was patient and waited until term time and waited until I felt more comfortable with my friends and my surroundings, I know that if I had given up when I struggled initially, I would have come to regret it so much.
In conclusion, I write this with total confidence that this will be some of the best few years of your life, you will look back on it for the rest of your life, you’ll make friends and memories that last a life time. Give it time, give it your all, be rational and just make the most of it! As always I’m always so happy to speak to anyone whose anxious or just wants to ask questions, just pop me a message!
Finally please share with anyone you think would benefit from reading this, I want to help as many people as possible!
Until next time,