1. FIRST YEAR
is not unimportant. Yes it doesn’t count. Yes it’s important you build your social life. Yes you should experience all the wildness and fun of being a fresher. However this year, decides many of the habits you will form with regards to dealing with your work. You will not go from Mr. Last Minute Dot Com as a fresher to most organised in second year. Your department’s staff will begin to form opinions on you, which is particularly important if you study anything remotely subjective. Let me tell you a home truth though, first year is the easiest year academically, the jump in second and third year will leave you in shock. If you don’t get a grip on balancing your academic and social life in first year you’ll always feel like you’re chasing the bus for the rest of your stay at university.
University friendships are going to be different. They are more intense, than any friendships you’re likely to have formed before. Fresher’s week made me understand why people start relationships so quickly on big brother. Before you saw your friends and went to different homes. Now there will be no respite. You will, live, eat, study and socialise with friends, sometimes it will feel like you’ll never get to be alone again. Your new friends and flat-mates quickly come to feel like the family uni chose for you. However you’re also more likely to face tensions too, so establish boundaries, respect others boundaries and be tolerant, it will make your whole experience far less traumatic. Don’t expect all your day one friends to stay your friends either. As uni becomes more intense and characteristics become more apparent some will keep, some won’t.
It is not easy but save. You are about to get the cheapest loan you’ll ever get in your life. Whilst it may not seem cheap loans in the real world of finance never come this cheap or easy. If you’re starting this year you’re also the final recipients of GRANTS!! If you’re lucky you may even have a scholarship, or a part time job. Don’t be swept up in the temptation to have the hottest gadgets, shoes and clothes. Don’t spend to the last penny and max out the new overdraft. Even if its just a little each month save. Give yourself incentives to save, promise yourself you’ll save enough so that half of the savings will take you on a nice holiday in the summer. When you graduate and the real financial difficulty of the world hits you, that little pot of money will really make a big difference.
4. SELF CONTROL/AWARENESS
Don’t get lost it in sauce. Jokes aside don’t over indulge in anything, be it, alcohol (no one likes the friend they have to take home, it ruins their night), or even stress (everyone is in the same boat and they get it, but stressed out people are not good company). Don’t over stretch yourself, not by signing up to 10 societies in fresher’s week, or trying to attend every night out on offer or attempting to read every single book on the reading list. Moderation is key. You will change, uni changes everyone, but keep an eye on who you’re becoming. Network, socialise, work hard, build some life skills and give back. But don’t lose sight of yourself, your principles or sanity on the way to achieving that. You really don’t want to look back at your experience regretting the things you did not do or the opportunities you didn’t take. Yet all the same you also don’t want everyone else to look back and remember you for all the wrong reasons, because of the person you became. You’ll be surprised how much who you know, and what they think of you will matter going forward.
5. ENJOY / LIVE IN THE MOMENT
Enjoy it, it’s not as long as you think. This one speaks for itself. I still remember moving into halls. Even remember the t-shirt I was wearing. Now I’m a graduate. Some days uni will feel like it takes eternity, but by the end, it’ll seem like you just about had enough time to blink.