You’ve received that acceptance letter, made that infamous surprised face and celebrated with your friends and family. Now you’re faced with your class schedule and you’re staring at the wall of your dorm room, wondering how on earth you’re going to make it through first year. I was there two years ago. Now, I’m halfway through my degree (made it) and loving London life. Here are 10 of my top tips to help you get through that nerve-wracking first year without losing your cool.
Study from day one.
Yup, I’m starting right in at the deep end. Take it from me on this one – do not procrastinate. Make sure you understand all your course material from the get go, don’t give in to the temptation of “Oh I’ll just crack it a month before exams”. If you don’t crack it now, chances are you won’t in April. Or whenever you tend to start panicking about exams.
Meet lots of people.
Moving to university means meeting a lot of new people. Coming from an introvert, embrace it. Get to know people you may never have associated yourself with at school, talk to them and make lots of friends. You’ll learn more about the world, people’s beliefs and last but not least, yourself.
Learn to cook.
I cannot stress this enough. This is the perfect time to learn to whip up a good meal, especially since you’re living away from home. Forget the “I burnt the house down whilst making toast” memes, knuckle down and teach yourself some basic cooking skills. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube to suit your tastes, from how to dice an onion to how to make cauliflower pizza dough (if that’s your thing). If those don’t work, find a friend who knows their way around a kitchen and learn from them. If I can do it, anyone can.
Don’t be that person who steals food.
People will find out, don’t break that sacred bond of trust. Just don’t do it. If someone’s been stealing yours, put it in containers (perfect for meal prepping) and make it look as off-putting and distasteful as possible. Just make sure you know how long it’s been there.
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We’ll keep it short – eat before you drink anything, and drink plenty of water when you get home from a night out. I learned these the hard way. You’re welcome.
Go to your lectures.
It’s tempting to skip a lecture – all the material will be online anyway. Don’t do it – just show up and take as many notes as you like. This saved me hours of teaching myself stuff.
Invest in lots of PJs.
You’ll bring all your best clothes to university wanting to make a good impression but you’ll end up spending 95% of your time in PJs. Fluffy, satin, cotton, whatever you like. Get yourself some good ones.
Learn to budget.
It’s a good idea to keep an Excel spreadsheet of your monthly spendings (and earnings if you’ve found yourself a job). This sounds very adulty but I promise you’ll appreciate it when you have to listen to your friends moan about how broke they are. Save yourself the trouble and you’ll be able to smugly splash on some high-end makeup as a birthday treat.
Sleep is precious.
Your life will suddenly get so much busier at uni despite the fact that you had 10 classes a day at school and you now have 10 classes a week. Save your energy for all the other stuff and get good sleep whenever you can. Naps saved my life.
Stick to your principles.
Last but not least, uni is the time to experiment. You’ll learn some lessons, and discover some things you never thought you’d enjoy. Go through it all with an open mind, but as Richard Dawkins said, “By all means let’s be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains fall out.” Maintain your sense of self and boss it at everything you do.
For those of you starting university in September, I wish you the best of luck and hope you enjoy yourself. Make the most of it – you’ll be graduating in the blink of an eye!