Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Four Important Lessons I Learned In My First Year at University

The first year at university for many is the next and also, most important, chapter of their pre-adult life.

It's a time when you are no longer a teenager, but not quite yet an adult. Although you're released into the big bad world it's just getting your toes wet in the grand scheme of things.

This is my advice and reflection on my time at university so far:

It's not what you expect

When people think of uni it's always cliched images of students spending their entire time either drunk or hungover. Although this is largely true it's important to study and embark on other experiences too.

Join (and attend!) as many societies as you find interesting. They are great ways to meet people and look good on your CV too. Don't discount getting a part-time job either, the money comes in VERY handy and depending on where you work so do the staff discounts.

It's not for everyone, but give it a chance

In my first year at uni I came across quite a few people who dropped out. It is not 'shameful' or 'throwing your life away' uni really isn't everyone's cup of tea. That being said, don't drop out on your first week because you're a little bit homesick. 

My first week was horrendous I had no friends, no one in my flat talked to me or even showed their face and I had pizza three nights in a row for my dinner. I'd moved all the way to Aberdeen hours away from my hometown, away from all my friends and I was really reconsidering whether I'd made the right choice. As it turns out thankfully I did and after the first few weeks things picked up. 

first year at university friends

Be friendly and talkative 

No one ever made friends by hiding away in their room keeping themselves to themselves. Your first year at university is your time to reinvent yourself so if you were shy in school now is your chance. 

Your first week is vital friend accumulation time, every second is precious so you must be prepared at all times (I made my first friend in halls in the lift - think outside the box)! Sharing is the surest way to go about doing this. Have a slice of pizza left over? Give it away. Bought a litre of vodka? Offer your flatmates some shots. Went to a great club the night before? Tell everyone where it is. Bottom line people love free stuff and everyone loves friendly people.

I remember when I met my first and only flatmate friend (I was the only girl in a flat of mostly unfriendly/shy boys). I was standing next to the fridge with the door open and I saw a pair of legs walk in that I didn't recognise. I thought in that moment that if I didn't act then this could be my only hope of having a friend gone so I was probably a bit over-eager the first couple of days nevertheless that was the start of a beautiful friendship.

first year at university friends

Keep track of your money

It is incredibly easy to go around spending money on your credit or debit card without actually ever knowing how much you've spent until a good few weeks after you've done it. I can put my hands up and say I'm guilty of this, which is why I am warning you before it's too late!

Make a budget. It sounds so boring but you will get used to it and learn to love it. It makes life so much easier and saves you from getting in debt. If you can't be bothered starting from scratch have a go at using a student budget calculator

Another great way to keep track of your money is by not spending what you don't have. Banks try to lure you in with promises of no interest and little freebies if you sign up with them, but do you really need an overdraft? I managed to survive first year without one so I'm sure you could too!

It doesn't hurt to have connections

My sister and my best friend Kate instantly spring to mind as I say this. I don't think I have ever been out with them without them stopping or being stopped by someone - be it a club bouncer or a taxi driver.

It pays to get to know people. Free club entry, free drinks and food discounts are just a few of the freebies you could be looking at. If you have the gift of the gab it doesn't hurt to talk your way out of paying, or into a venue.

Most of all remember to have fun. Usually people only get to go through first year of university once so make the most out of it. If this is your first year good luck and I wish you all the best, let me know how it goes! If you're already there or considering going feel free to drop me a line.

How was your first week? What are you looking forward to? Any funny stories?! Let me know!

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