The ultimate guide to surviving your first year of university

Fresher student

Navigating your first few weeks and months at university can be a little overwhelming. Getting through Freshers’ Week, making and maintaining new friendships, living away from home for the first time and managing your money can all seem almost too much to comprehend.

So how can you stay on top of it all, without having a mid-semester break-down on the phone to your mum, on the verge of dropping out? Thankfully, we’re here to guide you through surviving your first year of university. We promise it’s not as scary as it seems.

Embrace the fresh start

It’s true what they say, university really is a fresh start. So don’t allow yourself to be held back by what may or may not have happened in previous years. When you start university, embrace the new chapter in your life and get ready to make brand new memories. Go in with a positive mindset and don’t look back.

Learn to manage your time wisely

Learning to manage your time effectively can be one of the toughest challenges you’ll face as a student, however if you can get it right from the beginning, your university experience will be smooth sailing. Develop you own organisational strategy that works best for you and stick to it. This way, you’ll find it much easier to balance your assignments alongside the fun parts of student life.

Learn to manage your money wisely

Try to keep track of your finances as best you can. That being said, there’s no need to make any drastic sacrifices – as a first year student, you should still be free to enjoy your new found independence. That being said, keeping track of everything will make it seem much more manageable, and budgeting isn’t as difficult as everyone makes it out to be.

Pro-tip: avoid buying your textbooks brand new if you can. You’ll find so many second and third year students selling their second-hand textbooks for much cheaper, and you’ll be thankful for those extra pennies come Freshers’ Week.

Choose the right accommodation for you

While halls is the most popular accommodation choice amongst first years thanks to the opportunities to meet new people, coupled with the convenience – you’ll find that halls isn’t always for everyone. You want to be sure that you will feel comfortable in your living space, so it’s important to determine the accommodation that is the right choice for you.

Attend lectures and seminars

In first year, it’s all too tempting to skip your lectures and seminars. People will frequently tell you that ‘first year doesn’t even count’ – but making a good start will make the transition into second year much easier. You’ll regret missing so many classes when your end-of-year exams creep up on you. At the end of the day, you’re paying a monumental amount of money for your education – don’t let it go to waste.

Explore your surroundings

If you’ve moved to a new city for university, don’t hesitate to step outside of your campus and go exploring. Familiarise yourself with your new surroundings. Attend concerts, comedy nights, visit museums, try different restaurants and go to different nightclubs.

Make an effort with people

This may seem like an obvious point, but in first year it’s important to make the effort to talk to people and build new friendships. All too often we allow our shyness to get the best of us and we end up missing out on friendships, relationships and networking opportunities. Freshers’ Week is the perfect opportunity to meet people. Keep an open mind and avoid judging people or assuming no one is going to want to talk to you. Don’t forget that everyone is in exactly the same boat – you’re sure to find a few like-minded people.

Take care of yourself

First year of university is likely to be your first time living away from home and away from your parents, and so it can become all too easy to lead an unhealthy lifestyle. Surprisingly, it’s not impossible to stick to a healthy diet even on the tightest student budget, so don’t neglect your fruit and veg!

Although alcohol plays a large part in student life and culture, you don’t need to feel pressured to drink. But if you do drink, know your limits. Both your body and your bank account will thank you for it.

University will inevitably be one of the most demanding periods of your life both physically and mentally, so make your health a priority.

Join societies on campus

First year is the best time to fully immerse yourself in all aspects of student life, so while the opportunities are there, take full advantage and join a few societies that correlate with your hobbies and interests. Why not even sign up to something you’ve never tried before? Societies are the perfect chance to make new friends and even enhance your graduate CV.

Step out of your comfort zone

University brings the perfect opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. These new experiences may seem scary at first glance, but you never know what they may lead to. It might just be the best decision you ever make!

Make the most of student perks

Being a student has many perks, including freebies and discounts. Take a walk around your Freshers’ Fair and don’t be afraid to help yourself to some freebies – that’s what they’re there for after all. Student discounts will help you to budget even better, so don’t forget to take a look into what you’re entitled to. There’s a lot more out there than what you might think!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed

University may focus much more on independent learning than school ever did, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask for help if you really feel you need it. Your lecturers will ultimately commend you for having the initiative to seek guidance.

Enjoy it!

It really goes without saying, but above all, enjoy the opportunity that you have in front of you. Your first year of university will fly by and you will make some of the fondest memories along the way – so don’t forget to enjoy it while it lasts!

Article written by Katy Mairs, blog editor at Unibaggage.com – the No.1 Student Shipping Company.

Image: Anna Bizoń/123rf.com

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