Thursday, 1 March 2012

My University Experience, so far... Part 2 - Fresher's, Making Friends and a Few Tips

Hello everyone!
I've been feeling a bit inspired the past couple of days so I thought I'd sit myself down and write the second part of my university series. 

I'll just jump right into it and say that my first few months at uni were a mixture of ups and downs. I chose to go to uni in a city relatively close to where I live (40 minutes on a train) but decided to move out. I was lucky and managed to secure myself an en suite room in Halls.  
A few tips to getting settled in Halls:
  • make your room your own. Make it homely, take photographs and put them on the walls, take books and things to fill the shelves. Rooms in Halls often look a bit like cells, so to combat homesickness don't be afraid to spruce it up a bit; for example, I went and bought fairy lights from a pound shop to make my room a bit prettier. Home comforts are essential.
  • make an effort with your flatmates. Nine times out of ten your flatmates won't know anyone else either. Keep your door open, be willing to make compromises about space in the kitchen for example. Just be nice and friendly. You can't get on with absolutely everyone but try. I didn't make as much of an effort with my flatmates as I could have, which I now regret as we haven't kept in touch at all. If you do struggle to get on with anyone, just be civil. Nobody wants to live within a tense atmosphere.
  • share responsibilities. A girl in my flat made a cleaning rota (not my thing, personally) but don't let one person be the person who constantly takes out the bin, it just isn't fair. Ask before you take things, or leave notes on the fridge. It's really simple to get along with flatmates, you just have to make an effort really. Halls are great fun!
This may be a bit 'controversial' but personally, my Fresher's week sucked. I'm not too big on going out and drinking loads, but even for me it was a bit rubbish. Everyone is either, from my experience, really self conscious, or just out to get absolutely hammered. Don't expect too much from it, it is completely over-hyped!

The first week of classes at my uni are all about sorting out the timetable and finding your tutor groups. For me there was a big lecture, where I met one of my friends, Ailish, and through her I met Rosie.

Ailish and I - Christmas Market 2011, Rosie and I on a night out.

 Everyone is in the same boat, just be friendly and make an effort with conversations. I was pretty shy and found it difficult, but you just have to put yourself out there! Everyone says it, but it's true. It's not easy by any means. I spent a lot of my time outside of uni with Ailish, and made many other friends. The key, what I've found anyway, is just to get out. Even if you're feeling homesick and missing your mum, sitting by yourself won't make you feel any better; give your mum a ring and then organise to meet with friends. Talk to people, outside of uni and in classes. Don't be worried about coming across as a smart arse, you'll get along a lot better if you communicate with tutors. That way they remember your name, which is always a good thing.

  • don't be worried about making friends; the friends you make in the first few weeks won't necessarily be the friend you make for life, or even last until the end of first year, but don't let that put you off.
  • just be friendly! Smile at people, say hi, sit next to different people in classes until you find a group you feel comfortable with. 
  • another thing I did was find people via facebook and tumblr. I first spoke to three of my friends, Ailish, Lottie and Alice on facebook and chatted a bit first. That way if you see them around campus, you can say hi. It just breaks the ice a little.
Rosie, Me and Ailish

Just a few other tips:
  • go to classes! Once you stop going it can become a habit. You don't want to get into that habit. I went to (almost) every single class in my first year - mainly because I hate missing things, always have done, I'm a bit of a hard worker. First year is a doss year that (usually) doesn't count towards your final degree, but that doesn't mean that it isn't important.
  • eat and sleep sensibly. Don't do what I did!! I was an idiot and often stayed awake until 5am, having to get up at 9am for lectures. It isn't fun. I also ate a lot of crap and put on about 10 pounds. There's the myth about 'Fresher's 15', and it does happen, you just have to try and avoid eating the 4 take aways a week.
  • make a budget! Work out how much money you'll have once rent has gone and make a weekly budget to stick to. This also helps with food shopping if you plan meals and give yourself a bit extra for a few treats. Jade has mentioned here and here about the merits of budgeting. Her 'frugal fighting' posts are full of great tips for students too.
  • before you start uni and apply to student finance, apply for everything you can get even if you think you're not eligible. Look into bursary schemes, because literally every pound extra you can get helps.
This has been a long one again, sorry guys. I hope it has been at least a little bit helpful if you're a first year student, or looking into going to university. 
In the next part of this I think I'll talk about house-hunting and maybe include a few study tips? Let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading! x

P.s. Fleur has made a video about her university experience recently here which I found helpful and interesting, if you want to take a look.

edit: I won't lie, my first year was full of ups and downs, I never truly felt settled in halls as I didn't truly gel with my flatmates. Instead, I pushed myself into making friends on my course and spent much of my time at my friends' flat. You will find people you gel with. Don't worry!


  1. such a good post nic, i definitely agree with everything you have to say. i pride myself on budgeting and going to all my classes and it really does help you in feeling settled. thank you so much for linking some of my posts - i REALLY need to get back to this sort of thing. xxxx

    1. thank you Jade! and no problem, I really enjoy your posts! xxx


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