What I Wish I Had Known Before Starting University

Having  recently completed my first 2 years of university at De Montfort (where has the time gone?), all of the initial worries and panic seem to be a distant memory. However the first few weeks before I moved out, I was terrified. University was an entirely new adventure, I was the first in my family to embark on the challenge, aside from my Mum. The most nerve-racking thing I’ve ever challenged myself to do, so here are my words of wisdom for those who are about to enter the new chapter in their lives.

• Making friends isn’t actually that difficult

My main worry when I moved out was making friends, living with 5 complete strangers, in an unfamiliar place. Something that literally kept me awake at night in the lead up to move out day. However everyone is in the same position, you aren’t alone. Also, everyone on your course will all very quickly click, after all, you’re all there for the same reason. More so, never underestimate the power of a good cup of tea, if someone across the hall offers you a cuppa when you move in, take up the offer, that could be the spark to a life long friendship.

• Home sickness is horrible, but it won’t last forever

I’ll be honest here, I was homesick throughout the whole of my university experience so far, and I’ll probably still experience it in my final year. However the times I would really notice it was when I was alone by myself, so if you’re anything like me, make the most of getting out. Go to all your lectures, pop round your friends in your dressing gown for a cuppa, keep busy. But remember it’s completely normal to feel this way, you’ve moved to an entirely new place, where the chances are, you know no-one, its bound to be a bit difficult at times.

• It’s important to find that work/ social life balance within the first month

A big massive part of university for most people is the social life that comes with it. Whilst SU every Wednesday night might seem appealing at the time, continually missing 9AM lectures will not work out in your favour. I don’t need to be the one to tell you the inevitable will happen and you’ll fall behind, and you do not want to pay victim to that. Having said this, it’s still important to go out and have fun, just make sure you stay on top of your work too! It can be a difficult balance to strike, but the sooner you do it the better.

• Ignore what everyone else says, your first year is important

If I had a pound for every single time I heard the word ‘first year doesn’t count’ or ‘you only need 40% to pass’, I’d almost definitely have enough money to pay back my student loan. Admittedly, in most cases your first year won’t count towards your final grade, but it’s still so important you work hard and try your best. Your grades, attendance and attitude will make a lasting impression on your those who teach you.

• No one is going to chase you for your work, so keep on top of it

Unlike school or college, when you get to university, you never have anyone chasing you to complete work. Your work is your responsibility, no one else’s. University is a huge jump from college and a-levels, the work load is incomparable, so there’s no shame in struggling a bit, just make sure you seek help from the people who lecture you and your tutors to keep on top of it all. It’s okay to admit in the first month or so that it’s all a bit overwhelming.

• Make use of the societies the university has to offer

One that I really wish I had made use of more. My university, like many, has an extensive  list of societies, and these really are the best ways to meet like minded people, get out the flat and make life long friends. Whether it’s for the social aspect, or to learn a new skill, they’re there for you to use and take advantage of. I can guarantee that joining a society will be one of the best decisions you make whilst at university.

• If you haven’t ever done an all nighter before, I can guarantee you will now

You could brand yourself the most organised person on earth, and I bet you would still end up doing an all nighter at least once. I’ve always been insanely organised, but during my second year, when the work load really did get turned up a notch, I spent a good few nights working well into the early hours, and turning up to 9AM’s with the worlds worst bags under my eyes.

• It’s stressful and challenging, but there are people on guard to help, make use of them

It’s okay to feel like you’re struggling a bit. With the new environment, pressure of making friends, and pressure of doing well, it’s easy to let the whole experience just get on top of you, and have the fun sucked out of it all. When you feel like it’s all a bit much, your university will always have a team of people who you can chat to, who will also be able to give advice on how to deal with the stress of it all. Take advantage of this team, it’ll benefit your whole experience in the long run.

• Time really does fly, so make the most of it

I never believed it when people would tell me that my time at university would go quickly, yet here I am 2 years down the line, half way into my degree. I can’t believe it’s gone so quickly. Uni really is one of those blink and you miss it, kind of experiences. So be sure to make the most of it.

Han x

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