Starting University #1 - My experience, thoughts and tips

Monday, 8 September 2014

Today I thought I'd share my University experience since I'm sure there are quite a few out there who will be packing up, leaving home and heading out into the murky depths of student life soon. This will be the first of three posts, and for the this installment I'm going to take you on a little journey through my student experience as I graduated over a year ago now. The next two posts will be a bit of organisational/packing advise teamed with my own preparations ready for my grand reentrance into university life. Ah! Exciting!

I studied History which I chose because it was my favourite, although not my strongest subject. It's definitely best to go with your heart since it's going to be your life for the next three or four years! I enjoyed my University experience; the studying, making a few amazing friends, and living in a really great city. And soon I will be retracing my footsteps back to where this all began to do my masters degree.

Now, I absolutely wanted to go to uni however the week before I was due to to move, I had a massive panic about the whole thing. The anxiety about moving out, new people, a new city and a very different workload became a bit much for me. Funnily enough, once I got there I was fine. However, I made a number of friends who really put the prospect of university on a pedestal, and once there they struggled with being away from family and the new challenges student life throws at you. My advise would be don't worry too much before you go (like me), but do be realistic and accept your life is about to have a massive shake-up and mentally prepare for it.

Freshers Week 
When I went to uni at the age of 18, I was certainly more of a drinking, dancing, going-out type than I am now, though I wasn't a party animal by any means. I didn't enjoy Freshers too much in all honesty, admittedly it was a great way to bring everyone out of their shells. If you already think that it isn't your scene, check to see if your uni or your course is holding any day-time events during the week that are more up your street. You will meet a million people in Freshers week that you will probably never see or speak to again. Don't worry too much about making BMFLs at this point, friendships will continue to form throughout your university life so go with the flow and try to enjoy yourself, it's still very early days. Saying that, I met my now boyfriend in Freshers, we didn't get together until the end of third year though. Hence, I felt I had to add in the (not so flattering) photo of said meeting for the sake of nostalgia. It was a battle of the halls night, my halls dressed as pirates and his as ravers. But lets not beat around the bush, clearly the best fancy dress featured here is my homemade care bear costume.

Moving out and living with others
It will take getting used to, and you will have to compromise on certain things or change your own habits to help ensure a friendly living situation. People will be noisy. If you don't like or get on with the people you live with, try to remain civil with each other, and look elsewhere for like-minded people. Either your course, societies or volunteering programmes are your best bet. And if for some reason it is truly awful, talk to your personal tutor, or your university welfare team, they really are there to help. And try to remember you'll be able to move out of halls and into a house with friends come second year.

You probably thanks to student loans, will have more money in your bank and at your disposal than ever before. Try and be sensible, if you're a bit of an organisation whizz then go ahead and work out weekly budgets etc, if not then at least make sure you've got your weekly essentials like food and transport covered before going on a night out. Always make use of student discounts and student nights in clubs and bars to help save the pennies.

The teaching and learning style will be different. If you don't turn up to lectures, if you don't do your seminar prep, if you don't do any extra reading then sorry, you will not do well. The wonderful times of knowledge and correct answers being spoon-fed to you is over. It's time to pick up a book, make notes and do your best to understand what all the professors and doctors in those scholarly articles are going on about. If you don't do well in first year, don't beat yourself up as it doesn't count towards your overall grade. First year is really about getting you used to University, bringing everyone up to speed and teaching you the skills you will need for second and third year.

Making the most of it 
Join all the societies, play on sports teams, volunteer, get work experience. Seriously please please please do. The one thing I regret is not taking advantage more of all the extra-curriculars on offer. Often this side of things will be more important than the ins-and-outs of your degree when it comes to writing a CV and applying for jobs. I know you'll be busy hanging out with friends and trying to meet deadlines but definitely make time for them!

Best of luck if you are heading off to uni or are returning after a nice long summer.

Are you heading off to uni soon? Or have you graduated - what was your experience like? Or please leave a comment or tweet me @rebeccakateblog if you want to know anything else!

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  1. Great post, a lot of this is exactly what I would say to first years too. The work was such a shock to the system for me, and my first year counts 15% to my final grade!

    It's so nice that you're still with the boy you met at uni, both myself and friends have had some pretty bad experiences of relationships breaking down over the long summer.

    1. Oh no, as if it counted for you! That must make for an even more stressful first year knowing that! Yeah, as we only got together in third year we never went through summers, although we have been doing the long-distance thing for the past year and so far so good haha x

  2. Hello! I graduated college a little less than 2 years ago but my experience with college wasn't typical at all. I graduated with a degree in business economics but I switched from biology because although my mother wanted me to work in the medical field, halfway through college, I switch to economics because my passion was owning my own business! As I got older, I realized that I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing what I love. But other than that, I lived at home with my parents, drove to school everyday and worked so I didn't get that "college experience" that a lot of people get. I wish I did though but I have no regrets!

    1. That's really interesting, thanks for sharing! It sounds like you made the right decision in changing your course - always best to follow your heart :)

  3. I went to a specialist music school and we all had a such a different experience to other students, we had no freshers events and hardly any social scene. It was also over too years so all the work counted! It's great to hear how different it is for everyone!

  4. Thanks for the great post! I don't start uni for two more years but I'm freaking out! lol

  5. Great post and tips! Good luck with your studies! =)
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  6. Great post, thanks for the tips!!
    Check out my blog and maybe we can follow each other? Hope to hear from you!

  7. This is such a good post, I'm about to start college and all of this applies, haha.
    x Justina //

  8. Such an informative post! I really need to start thinking about college now that I'm a junior! :)
    xoxo Brie at


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