Sunday, 14 September 2014

Making the Most of Uni

As this year’s round of freshers (including my younger brother, which is terrifying) are about to head to university and start the next stage of their life, and I am preparing myself to go into my final year (even more terrifying) , I thought I’d do a post on how to make the most of university life.

I can’t believe that this time three years ago my eighteen-year-old self was getting ready to leave home and live alone for the first time – time has gone insanely quickly.

My little room in first year!

Uni life is a million miles away from school life, which is why it’s so daunting for freshers, however mature you are. But it’s also one of the most exciting and rewarding three to four years of your life.
I always remember going home a few months into first year and looking at everything from a different perspective and almost feeling unsure of how to fit in at home. You quickly get used to it, but it is a strange transition!

So as I’m about to go into final year, I guess this post is a reflection on my uni experience so far, advice to freshers on how to throw themselves into uni life, and a little reminder to myself to make the most of my last shot at university living.
The amazing year I spent in Bristol on placement

When there’s a choice, live in halls

It’s probably a bit late for this now, as everyone will already have their accommodation sorted, but honestly, living in halls has given me some of my best uni memories. For starters it’s easy; you don’t have to worry about bills or setting up internet, you (generally) have cleaners to deal with the kitchen, and you’re about as close as you can get to lectures.

Of course, how much you enjoy halls does have a lot to do with who you’re put with, but if you’re as lucky as I was it’s like having a sleepover with your best friends every night for a year. My favourite thing about living in halls was that no matter what the time was, you could guarantee that there would always be someone else who wanted a chat, someone else who wanted to watch a film, someone else who needed to go food shopping or someone else who just couldn’t sleep.

First year flatmates!

Push yourself

The first week is so important and first impressions DO count. That’s not to say that you won’t make friends if you don’t involve yourself with freshers week, but it’s a whole lot easier if you make the effort during this vital bonding time.

As sad as it may sound, the drinking really does help with the nerves of meeting so many new people and living in a new environment, but even if you don’t drink, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and getting involved will be beneficial in the long run.

Fancy dress was always part of the fun

Say yes to everything

It’s a cheesy one, but it’s true and it applies to so many different aspects of uni life. Saying yes to doing things with your new friends will help you get to know each other better, as well as familiarising yourself with your new town or city.

Saying yes to trying new things is the best way to learn what you’re good at and what you really enjoy – and quite often it’s not the things you thought. When I started my degree (English Lit and Creative Writing) I was adamant that I didn’t want a career in journalism, but I applied to write for a student publication anyway for the experience. I ended up loving writing reviews so much that I went on to be the editor of the Art and Literature section in second year, and now look, I’ve even started my own blog!

Societies make uni life…

…in my opinion anyway. Even though I enjoy my course (most of the time) it’s the societies you join and memories you make through these societies that make everyone’s uni experience different. I almost didn’t join Musical Theatre Society when I started in first year, but I can’t imagine uni without it. As with a lot of societies, it’s such a rewarding experience, particularly as you work so hard on each production and dedicate so much of your free time.

Societies look great on your CV, particularly if you are an active member or manage to join the committee. I always rely on taking about my positions within a society during job interviews.

Not only do you meet another group of friends, but you get invited to another lot of socials and have another excuse for fun every week.


Don’t forget about home

It’s easy to live in a bubble at uni; you have everything you need around you and home feels like an entirely different life. It’s important not to forget about your home friends. I know that sounds impossible when you’ve spent every day of the past 7 years with your school friends, but staying in contact is difficult, and it requires effort on both sides.

Inviting them to visit you is the best way to stay close to our home friends and simultaneously not miss out on any uni fun.

Visiting Hannah at uni for a 90s party

Keep your focus

As there is so much going on at uni and so many new things to try, it’s easy to forget why you’re really there. It’s important to find your balance between work and play early on, or you’ll struggle when it comes to big coursework deadlines or exam season.

If you’re someone who finds this difficult, find a few friends who work hard and follow their lead when it comes to putting the effort in. As long as you stay motivated and organised, you will still have time for nights out, road trips and onesie days.

Library life

Just writing this post has made me so excited to return to uni for my final year – I’m still insanely jealous of my brother getting to be a fresher though!

Are any of you about to start uni? What are you most excited/nervous about? Or if anyone has just finished – would you add anything else to this list?


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