Friday, 3 February 2017

What I Learnt from Semester One at University...

As a task for one of my modules last week I was asked to write a reflection on how my first semester has gone at University. Of course, this is all about the spiel of the academics of my first semester at University, but I feel as though there is a lot more to University than just the learning. Besides, coming to University is very different to anything you can prepare for. Suddenly, you are thrown into the deep end, away from any home comforts, living with complete strangers and learning how to live an entirely new lifestyle.

Today I thought it would be fun for me to reflect on what semester one of University has taught me. I have certainly realised a lot about myself, as well as learnt to deal with totally alien situations that no one really warns you of before you begin in September. I hope this post is not only relatable to those that are at University or have been to University but also helps those that are planning to go to University, as I know I wished I had been pre-warned about a lot of things in semester one.

You can become friends with people pretty fast- just be careful!

I think the biggest worry for many students just starting at University is that you do not know anyone and you may not have any friends. What many students also forget is that absolutely everybody is in the same boat. I remember sitting in the car on move-in day absolutely bricking it over the fact that my flatmates may hate me. However, I was definitely lucky and love all of my flatmates. I'll be honest and say some of the things I told my flatmates in the first week could have waited, as sometimes it's hard to tell if you can trust someone with just a first impression, but I'll also say that I really should not have spent so much time worrying that I would make no friends. As long as you welcome people into your room, go out and join societies of things that you are interested in, you are bound to find people that you will get on with. Alternatively, if you don't really have a particular hobby you can join a society for, join your course society, it's a great way of getting to know your course mates in a much more relaxed and fun environment. Just be warned, however, the first person you speak to may not necessarily be your best friend for the rest of the year, sometimes you just have to keep talking until the right people fall in place, besides, we don't have to get on with everyone.

You CAN live on a budget.

When you come to the realisation that your maintenance loan perhaps does not even cover your rent- to those people that getting excited about a shopping spree when your loan comes through, nope, doesn't happen- you start to become really worried. How can someone survive on such little money? How am I supposed to have fun? Firstly, know there is help out there. If you are going to struggle to make ends meet, as long as you are sensible there are student accounts that can help you out. Just speak to someone that can inform you on how to budget. Secondly, food does not have to be expensive! It's so easy to get carried away with your food shopping, but as long as you set a meal plan for yourself you can easily shop on a very cheap budget, very very easily! Just be careful, you can still have fun on a student budget as that is what part of being a student is about. Spend your money on what makes you happy, I know I'm not the particular type to "live for the sesh" even though I do like the occasional night out, so I have more money to spend on things I do enjoy, such as a new book, makeup or even a meal out. You are allowed to treat yourself as a student still, just know a good balance.

You do not HAVE to "Live for the Sesh".

There is an awful stigma that when you come to University you have to be all about the drinking and clubbing. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a night out, but I am also a girl that would much rather that on an occasion, and enjoy nights in quite a lot. I've never had anyone take the mick out of the fact that I don't always fancy going out. There are other things you can enjoy when you are at University and a students hobby doesn't only have to be drinking. Most universities are in areas where there are plenty of other things to do as well. From visiting places of interest to just having a little trip to the local cinema. Don't be that person that misses out on all of the other opportunities (including a degree) because the "student sesh" does not appeal to you, it really doesn't have to be like that at all.

Freshers are a joke to everyone else.

One thing you will quickly get used to when you are at University is that freshers tend to be the laughing stock of any 2nd or 3rd year (or any other year). I like to think it's because we are all so naive when coming to University. Our naivety tends to lead us onto making some pretty stupid decisions and generally losing street cred that we may have had before. Let me give you an example (yes, I am about to embarrass myself), during a hockey game in November I got a little bit carried away chasing a hockey ball, long story short I ended up running into a fence smashing up my face (photo evidence is on my Instagram) going to A&E and now I have a scar on my cheek and a lump in my chin. My best advice to anyone that goes to University, don't take anything the older students say seriously. The likelihood is that they were treated exactly the same as a fresher, and you are just best to laugh along with them. Besides, we're learning how to be a student in semester one and will make some pretty incredible mistakes... but I'm laughing too.

Make the most of it!

I have to say, no matter how eventful my first year has been at University so far, I am having the time of my life. Of course, things at University are not going to be an easy ride, you will fall into some new and difficult situations, and, you are at University for a degree, which certainly is not a doss. But also your first year is so important for learning how to become independent. There is plenty of time to do what you want to do, plus, there are some many opportunities that you do not want to miss out on. Get out there, investigate your new home and generally have a great time!

Feel free to share your experiences and advice in the comments!
Love you all!!
Emily x