Coming to York: Things I wished I’d known…

Okay, so in my last few blogs, I’ve talked about why I chose York, my course and the city of York itself. Now, in this blog, I’ll be telling you a couple of tips on how to make the most of being a student here at York – and these are all things I wish someone had told me before I started! We’ll cover accommodation, food, looking after yourself and making the most out of your time.

Coming from home to university can seem like a really daunting prospect at first. For most of us that go to university, it’s the first time we’ve properly been away from home – which means the first time cooking and doing washing for ourselves. I know, terrifying. But the best thing about the University of York is that it doesn’t have to be terrifying for long!

Constantine Forum

When you first move here, you will join one of the University’s nine colleges. These are little communities that you become a part of and where your on-campus accommodation will be situated during your studies. Each of the nine colleges has a distinct atmosphere about it, according to their age; older colleges like Langwith and Derwent have been around since the University started, whereas my college, Constantine, has been here for little under two years, and I was one of the first people to live in it! Each college holds different activities, and you can find out more about all of these on each college’s website.

Campus 1

These communities are great for when you first move away from home. There’s always someone to support you in the College system, with each one having its own administrators and welfare teams who’re there for you whenever you need them. You’ll also be assigned a Second and Third Year Contact, or a STYC, who’s a student in the year or two above you and will look after you and the rest of your flat during Freshers’ Week and throughout the year. Being in a college also means you’ll make loads of friends from different courses as well as your own, so you’ll soon settle in. However, I found it can still take time to get to grips with living independently.

Pasta Photo 1

Cooking is the first obstacle to overcome! So it’s important to make sure you know a few recipes before you come to university. I came here not knowing how to cook, and was living off ham and cheese toasties and microwave chips for some time. However, coming to uni really does give you the chance to try and learn new things, so I started watching videos online and watching my flatmates cook, and it wasn’t long before I got confident at it and started living off fresh, healthy meals to fuel my studies. AvoToast1 Courgetti Pic 1

There’s always someone around to ask and learn things from, so it’s important to do this as soon as you can! Start with simple stuff like stir fries and pasta (the student classic, of course), and work your way up from there. You don’t have to be Gordon Ramsay to eat well, and you don’t have to spend loads either; you can get all of your general fruit and veg at the Nisa on campus or at one of the nearby supermarkets, and it shouldn’t cost you a lot!

The other thing to remember, when you’re studying is to look after yourself. One of the main ways you can do this is get plenty of sleep. In first year, a combination of things like excitement and large amounts of work meant I was staying up until around 2 am, and having to be up at 8:30 for 9:30 lectures and other uni stuff. It might not sound that bad, but when it’s consistent, it can make you feel horrible, you won’t be able to take in anything you’re studying and won’t enjoy your time here. Some people are night owls, I know, but it’s important to make sure you get plenty of quality sleep. There are plenty of hours in the day to achieve everything you need to, and that’s definitely something I wished I’d realised that sooner! Take the time to reflect on things that happen, too, so you’re not staying up late doing that either! Go for walks around York’s beautiful campus and enjoy some occasional peace and quiet.

Out with friends for my birthday!
Out with friends for my 20th Birthday this year!

It’s also a given that people will want to go out clubbing frequently to blow off steam and celebrate their new independence, but you have to take it easy. In Freshers’ Week, it’s understandable, but after that it’s important to settle down and focus on your studies and settling in. Excessive partying can tire you out and make you miss key things while you’re here, so enjoy your studies and reward yourself with occasional nights out, or better yet, go for quiet drinks with friends. By doing that, you’ll save a lot of money and avoid becoming the cashless, spent-all-my-student-loan-in-one-go stereotype.

Lastly, the one thing I wish I’d told myself in first year is definitely to just enjoy every minute. At times when you’ve got loads of work or you’re feeling homesick or stressed, you can lose sight of why you came here in the first place! If you’re ever feeling like that, just take some time each day to remind yourself and do something else you love, or try learn something new to act as a release. It’s no good letting studying get you down – that’s not what it should do at all! Just stay positive, enjoy taking on new challenges and enjoy everything! York is full of exciting opportunities and new horizons, so have fun seeking them out, and make memories you can be proud of!

As always, I’ll answer any questions in the comments below! See you in the next blog!

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I'm a second year Writing, Directing and Performance student here at York, originally from near Leeds! I'm a Student Ambassador for my Department, one of the Marketing Ambassadors and a Writing Ambassador for the York Alumni Association. I also write reviews for a London-based theatre website and play guitar!