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10 things I’ve learnt in my first year at University

10 things I’ve learnt in my first year at University

It’s the last teaching week for many of us, and that really has made me reflect a lot on my first year. Before I started university, I found myself reading articles on what know, and what to expect from my university freshers experience. Now, much of the advice written in those articles would have been useful had I actually taken any of it in, but instead I stuck with my own (largely optimistic) preconceived ideas on what this year would be like. I don’t feel I was wrong in my expectations, but I have gained a few useful and reassuring lessons I didn’t think I would, so here they are:

  • You should book a trip home in the first semester

When I arrived in September, I promised myself I wouldn’t need a trip home until Christmas, only to realise that homesickness is a very real and very tragicthing. Once you’ve made a few friends, I’d recommend checking those travel prices and booking some time, even if only for the weekend, to go home.

  • Conversations with your parents aren’t so tedious anymore

When I was still at secondary school it sometimes felt like my parents would ask the same questions over and over again, but funnily enough, that is one of the things I miss most about home. The question of ‘what did you eat for lunch today?’ has almost become a comfort with the extreme unpredictability of university where sometimes I might not wake up or eat until dinnertime. So, make sure you give your parents a ring, or send them a message through Whatsapp because oddly enough, responses like ‘wot u up 2?’ may just become the highlight of your day.

  • People will know the strangest things about you and you’ll have only known them for a week

Having done all of this reflecting, I was struck with the fact that I have shared the strangestexperiences with people I’ve only known for about 6 months. Where it often took me a while to really open up to friends from home about certain things, I’ve found myself at 8pm, completely sober, sharing weird thoughts, over a bowl of pasta. When you get to university prepare to see people you’ve known for a couple of months in varying states of undress, drunk and overall mood. You really will learn a lot about people.

  • Literally no one cares about what you do

You know how, at school, you’d be unlucky enough to accidentally trip over yourself in front of a group of people who most definitely saw and would probably jokingly tease you about it for the rest of the week? University is the complete opposite. Wear mismatched earrings? Forget to take off your pyjama top? Get toothpaste on a black shirt? No one cares. We’re all just trying to get through the day.


  • You’ll most definitely start to listen to music from your childhood

Whichever mood or situation I find myself in, I often begin reminiscing about the days when everything was just easier and music is big part of that. When I’m sad it’s Avril Lavigne’s ‘I’m With You’, when I need motivation to revise its Troy Bolton singing ‘Bet on It’ and when I’m happy it has to be Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’. Before coming to Uni then, it might be a good idea to just create a playlist of uplifting songs to help you get through a rough day.

  • Hugs are excellent

Okay, so maybe I didn’t learn this at Uni, but I’ve certainly begun to appreciate how much of a difference a hug can make to my day. Make sure you know someone who’s always up for giving a hug; you’ll never know when you might really need one.

  • Spending time alone is important

Sometimes it feels like there is a lot of pressure to just be happy and ‘on’ all the time, which is why it is important to get some quality ‘me’ time into your day. Whether this is through maybe cooking, reading a book, or watching TV or films, having time to unwind is invaluable. Oh, and speaking of TV and films…

  • You will watch a ridiculous amount of TV shows and films throughout the year

It’s possible that I have watched more films in this past academic year than I would have before in the space of 12 months before coming to university. Escapism? Boredom?  Procrastination? Whatever the reason, just know you will watch a lot.

  • Budgeting is difficult

The one thing you quickly realise at Uni is that shopping isn’t what it was like at home where your mum might have asked you to buy everything on the list AND anything else you want. No. Here you learn that impulsively buying Ben & Jerry’s just because it’s on offerwasn’t actually the smart decision you thought you were making because you’re now a few pounds short in your weekly budget. In articles like these, people often say the best way to avoid making this mistake is to never shop while hungry, which, while true, may not be all that useful because there is something about being at university which just widens your appetite. A meal plan for the week, however, may be better suited for students in terms of budgeting, while also providing some semblance of structure to their lives.

  • Do your work on time

Yeah, this one is a little boring but unfortunately university isn’t like school where you could literally be finishing homework as the teacher collects it. To avoid extra stress, it’s a good idea to plan ahead on your essays or exams so that when deadlines are fast approaching, you aren’t completely lost on what to do. Let’s say that this piece of advice, though, is something I’m definitely still learning…


By Kirti Shah.

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