Freshers’ guide to…Finding a Work-Play Balance

Make the most of freshers’

Freshers’ week is the one week (or two) of your entire university experience that will stick in your memory for a long time. Or one that will remain a blurred memory if you end up taking the drink slightly too far. Whether you’re a party-lover or someone who prefers to get involved in day activities, freshers’ week is the perfect time to venture completely out of your comfort zone, become familiar with as many people as possible and to sign-up to something new. During the week/s they’ll be so many opportunities to learn more about the university and its student community and to get really involved. The ideal way to do this is to attend the freshers’ fayres where they’ll be staff and students very keen to let you know what societies and opportunities are open to you.

As tradition goes, freshers’ week will also be jammed pack with themed parties, socials and nights out which you can also get involved in. Most of these you’ll hear about through your second-year halls’ representatives as well as online (most of these events will be announced a few weeks prior to your move-in date on the social media pages for your universities). If you can, try to go along to a few of these and they’re a lot of fun and a good chance to get to know your fellow course and halls members. However, if you do feel a bit rough and fancy taking a night or two off don’t forget that that’s ok too! Don’t make yourself ill before the serious stuff starts!

Easing into your studies

Once the excitement of freshers’ week is over, the reality of having to attend lectures will hit, and it’s best to be prepared. Once you’ve received your grades and are certain what course you will be studying, ensure that you do your research to check whether you need to buy any books or resources in advance. Information about this can usually be found by googling ‘Reading lists 2018, University of Reading.’  It’s also a good idea to have a look at your timetable in advance which can usually be found by logging into the online student platform for your university (RISIS). By being familiar with your timetable, you can get an idea of the sort of time you’ll have free and can attend the freshers’ fayres knowing what free time you have to fill.

It’s also worth noting that either at the end of freshers’ week or within the first couple of days of term, you may have meet and greet sessions for your degree course which will include meeting your tutors, lecturers and other course members. It’s a good idea to attend these to get a feel of the sort of people you’ll be working with throughout the year and what you’ll be doing.

Take up a hobby

Whilst studying at university is often a big step up from A levels and college level courses, it is likely that unless you study a science related course, you won’t have a huge amount of contact hours in the first year. This means you may have lots of free time that needs filling.

To save you from getting bored or home sick in the first term, it’s a good idea to take up a new hobby, sport or sign up to a volunteering programme to fill your time. This will also be beneficial in helping you to get to know a new group of people separate from your flat mates. Try researching what societies are on offer at your university before joining, and ensure to take the right clothing for if you do.

Top tip: be as experimental as you can. There are some really wacky societies out there which are great fun and worth getting involved in. Whether its pole fitness, the Disney society or the Tea Appreciation Society, every society offers unique sessions, socials and trips to its members.

Know your limits

Most students tend to opt for cramming revision notes the couple of nights before an exam, or pulling an all-nighter in to finish an assignment that has been left to the last minute. Whilst these habits are often unavoidable when it comes down to not missing a themed event at the best nightclub in town, or binge watching your favourite Netflix series with your flat mates, it’s a good thing to remember that making some sacrifices earlier on in the term could save these last-minute panics.

It’s a good idea to keep a calendar or diary where you can to jot down assignment deadline and exam dates. This will help with planning you study to ensure that you don’t overload yourself with work. For assignments, it’s a good idea to break each part of the assignment down and to dedicate a week for each part (sourcing books, planning the assignment, writing it up, referencing). And of course, this all depends on the time frame you have to complete the assignment. Planning ahead is the best way to avoid burning yourself out and struggling to cope with the weight of the work you have been set.

Following such simple steps will ensure that your first year at university is as enjoyable and successful as possible. Finding the correct balance between social activities and your degree course will help you to get off on the right foot and to set yourself a strong path for the rest of your university experience.

 

Cover image copyright of flickr/vanderbilt

Taz Usher

English Language undergraduate and Entertainment Editor for the Spark Newspaper.

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