Coming to university can be a huge jump and you can suddenly feel out of your depth. However, when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed it is best to remember that first year is designed to be an adjustment period. If you’re struggling to manage your work or if you’re disappointed with some of your results, don’t worry about it too much.
Although I’m not really in the camp of ‘first-year-doesn’t-count-so-I’m-not-going-to-do-any-work-at-all’ I would definitely reassure freshers that somehow everything all works out in the end and there really is no pressure to be achieving top marks as soon as you get here. Many of us would want to know what it is like to be at University before arriving and luckily for you, this old fart has some words of wisdom to help you get the most out your time here.
This was the one thing I wished I done if I had to do University all over again. If you are single honours seize the opportunity to study abroad. Get a taste of another country and enjoy your time there in the amazing countries that Uni is partnered with. I had friends study in some stunning places like Canada, Australia, Norway, Budapest and Taiwan.
PLAN THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO:
Planning all my work really helped me stay organised and on top of things. Aside from this, I also timetabled in things to look forward to in order to keep me motivated. Whilst it is probably not a great idea to go home the first weekend of term I found it really helpful to have my train tickets booked a few weeks in advance so that I had something to work towards. On a smaller note, it is also a good idea to factor in afternoons or evenings off during exam season so you don’t feel too bogged down. Even planning to do simple things like cooking a new recipe, catching up with friends or watching a few episodes of your favourite series can help!
TRY NEW THINGS:
Make the most of what campus has on offer and make sure you are aware of upcoming events. The Student Union put on some great nights out from varsity, Summer Ball, exam relaxation events such as the adorable mobile farm, weekly quiz nights where you can win cash and a pitch if you have the funniest team name.
Join a society and make sure you have a mixture of different ones to go enjoy and suit you. There are hundreds of options from hobbies like the baking society, sports and dance teams like rugby and street dance as well as some great volunteering opportunities. If you are keen to gain experience for your CV find out if your course subject offers any opportunities or sign up to be on the committee.
If you fancy a career in media why not write for the Spark, host a show on Junction 11 or craft moving stories with RU ON TV. I recommend trying something active as well as it will help to let off stress from classes and help you to get outdoors and help to build up your confidence as well as brush off the cobwebs.
CHALLENGE YOUR PROFESSORS:
Remember you are spending £9 grand a year for your education so don’t accept what your teachers say at face value. You are here to learn and think outside the box. If you are not happy with the way a system is currently, challenge it, discuss with your personal tutors and peers why are things the way they are why is it that your subject clearly awards teacher’s pets or says that there is no right or wrong answer but gives firsts to people who dance around in jelly? It is your future at the end of the day so fight for it.
START THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE:
Surprisingly your time at University will fly by and it will be difficult to pack everything in if you don’t make the most of your time. If you have not the faintest idea about what you want to do when you graduate then do not panic. The careers team are some of the loveliest people I have ever met and will strive to help you in any way they can. Be on the lookout for roles on campus if you want to earn some extra cash they are always looking for staff at the cafes on campus. Stay updated with whats on as there will be opportunities to meet companies at careers fair, shape your cv with masterclasses and take advantage of schemes like the RED award and THRIVE where you can learn valuable experience.
KNOW WHO YOUR MATES ARE:
It is also important to just be yourself. For some reason, coming to uni is often associated with ‘reinventing yourself’. Although it is a good opportunity to try new things – if you have always hated sports don’t force yourself to try out for the rowing team just because you think it’s the cool thing to do. Keeping up the ‘new you’ will be tiring and time-consuming. Just focus on being you and you’ll meet the right kind of people who you want to be friends with. Having a strong support group will not only include lots of fun but help one another when the going gets tough or you need to catch up on notes.
There is a tendency to cling on to the first group of people you meet and rush into sorting out student houses for second year, don’t! You have more time than you think and you may assume that your flatmates are going to be your besties for life but halfway into your first term you find out that they are not always on top of doing their share of the washing up. Everybody finds it hard at some point and whilst your college welfare team are great, you don’t have to go to them to start with. Often just mentioning to a friend that you can’t wait to go home or that you’re missing your dogs will spark a conversation and make you realise that they are feeling just the same way as you are.
Get to know your surroundings. The first few weeks of term are busy and overwhelming but try to make some time to explore the city. If you’re like me and itching to get a break from essays or keen to try something other than curly fries at Mojo’s ( they are like gold dust so do keep eyes peeled). For example, Cafe Yolk is great but Reading has loads of other great independent cafes that are often forgotten about, such as Work House Coffee – my personal favourite. An ideal spot for studying or snuggling up with a book to devour for class. It’s also handy when family come to visit to know some good options or activities to go and do.