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How I Survived My First Year Of College

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at DCU chapter.

Beginning your first year of college can seem daunting. Whether you liked your secondary school or not, after at least five years of security and comfort, of the same old everyday, starting something new is terrifying and takes a while to adjust to. Coming up to the end of my second year here in DCU, I can still remember the nerves I felt on my first day of lectures. Thankfully, they settled pretty quickly, and despite my two hour long daily commute I found myself not only surviving, but enjoying every minute. 

There is no one size fits all tip to how to survive your first year of college – even my experience of that first year is completely different to the experience of my best friends in my course. I started off with no safety blanket – I knew only a few people in DCU, but none of my closest friends from school were coming here. I was lucky enough that a friend of a friend pointed me in the direction of the DCU Student’s Union Instagram, which was connecting freshers from similar courses together. I found a group of people studying Communications through here, and we made a groupchat. 

The weeks leading up to our first day, more and more people started joining the group chat. What started with a group of ten of us, talking each day about how nervous we were, became a group of fifty, almost everyone on our course. I took the brave step of arranging a meet up before our first lecture, and around twenty of us piled into Nubar to get to know one another. 

I was well liked in secondary school, but I certainly was not everyone’s best friend. I was never the loudest or most outgoing person in the room but I’d chat away to anyone who was around. I wanted college to be different. I wanted to stay well liked, but be more energetic and outgoing. It was never something I had deemed as important before, but I knew I had to be confident in order to make friends. My “fake it til you make it” mentality really worked, and I made friends almost instantly from that night out, most of which I’m even closer with to this day. 

Once I had some friends, and established some sort of support system, I knew it would be much easier. Due to my long commute, coming and going just for lectures and seminars was long and tiresome. With these friends, I had an opportunity to make the most out of my time on campus. Whether it was relaxing in someone’s apartment, filming and creating Youtube videos or going to society events, I had people with me that made the breaks before, after and in between classes so much more memorable and meaningful. 

Joining clubs and societies also really helped me. When I didn’t feel like going out, or was just too broke to, society events gave me something to look forward to in the evenings. I may or may not have joined eight societies in the first semester, and only really stuck to three or four by the end of the year, but the excitement of all these different events got me through, and I knew I had people of a similar mindset to do it with me. 

Luckily, my course doesn’t have the heaviest workload, and I was able to keep up with both work and social life, but I definitely did have to designate time for both, as well as keeping up with a part time job, which was quite difficult. I found that if it’s possible to only work weekends, or one night a week, it’ll be so much easier and you won’t burn out, but still have enough money to do nice things during the week. Limiting nights out also made sure I survived the whole year. At the beginning, I felt under intense pressure to be the life of the party and go out every night, but this lifestyle is not obtainable. Making sure I made time for myself, self care nights or wholesome activities in the evenings sometimes meant I wasn’t always overtired and wasting the next day catching up.

Overall, my first year of college was incredible, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. There were times where I was just barely surviving, with three euro to my name and exhausted, but there were also times where I knew I would remember that moment for the rest of my life. Finding a balance between the two, but still making time for those highs (and also lows.. it’s good for the plot), made me stick to it and not burn out. First year is scary but fun, it brings you outside of your comfort zone and helps you become the person you’re meant to be, and I’m so glad that mine turned out the way it did. 

hi!! my name is sarah + i'm in charge of social media and our podcast here at her campus dcu. i'm a second year communications studies student :)