Lifestyle | University Tips + Experience

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With the start of the new term already becoming a distant memory as we settle into the routine of lectures, reading and the occasional hangover, I thought I'd offer some insights into uni life and what to expect for anyone starting this year (you lucky things!). Moving away from home somewhere where you may not know anyone can be slightly daunting; add into that adjusting to studying, being more independent and generally starting a new chapter and it can seem pretty overwhelming! I will admit to not being the most organised student ever, I will often leave things to the last minute however have somehow managed to make it to my fourth year (I know I'm so old) so hopefully am at least somewhat qualified to offer a little bit of advice.

1. Don't worry if you aren't doing as well as others. This is something I think is pretty relevant throughout life, but there will always be people who are at a different stage to you. We all take different amounts of time to adjust, and that's fine. If everyone around you seems to be having the time of their lives whilst you're still feeling a bit lost and down, talk to someone. If it gets really bad, it's OK if uni isn't for you. I've seen a few posts about 'not going to uni' and know a lot of people who drop out and do amazingly, it's early to talk about this but there is no point being unhappy!!

2. Grades are not everything. I'm absolutely not encouraging you to slack and do no studying, but there is so much more to uni. Joining societies, making friends, maybe's important to work hard but equally important to enjoy the ride. Especially when first year (for most) doesn't even count past getting over 40%!! At the same time it's good to get into good studying habits for the next few years which will count, so make sure you do manage your time properly!!

3. The level of university is very different to school. This was something I had a real problem with when I arrived at uni, and in fact ended up changing my course completely. I found that whilst at school I was the best at history, but at uni was somewhere in the middle, feeling completely lost. Maybe in part because there were only around 25 people in my sixth form year, but also because everyone is going to be really good at what you're studying - that's why you're there!! So don't stress and without wanting to sound like my mum, just do the best you can me it will be more than enough.

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4. Make mistakes!! That's what your first year is for, finding your way and not always getting it right. This goes for both social life and studying, it's crucial not to worry when you don't get it quite right because nobody does all of the time.

5. You will miss home. Some more than others, I didn't really but I had friends who went home relatively regularly. I would say try to stick it out for a good while as chances are the homesickness will fade but if it doesn't, firstly - don't be afraid to admit defeat and go home for a good bit of home comforts if possible!! Equally, talk to people - flatmates, friends, family...they will all want you to be happy.

6. Get advice when you need it. If you're struggling with a course, with keeping up with your work, with writing an essay, with making friends, with settling in...literally with anything at all and it's getting on top of you, don't be scared to get help!! Your course or personal tutors will be more than happy to help if they can, it's their job and also they really want you to do well. Most unis also have good student health centres where you can go if you need any advice about depression/anxiety/stress etc. as these are problems which really affect students. If you are struggling to get to lectures or meet deadlines for a legitimate reason, again your tutors will want to know and will be able to help because at the end of the day they do care and they do want you to do well!!

7. Most importantly...have fun! Everyone always says make the most of it which stresses me out slightly because I haven't joined every society going, I haven't been involved in any committees and I haven't been on every single night out whilst still making it to my 9am lectures. But take any opportunity which interests you and enjoy your time at uni, it will fly by and before you know it you will be in the big world of work which will seem a LOT more scary, trust me on that one!!

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