Starting university provides many great opportunities to discover who you are, your interests and your abilities. However, there are many unknown areas where you may trip up or make a few mistakes. I am going to share with you a few tips I wish someone had told me before I started university which would have made things just that little bit easier.
Tip one: this seems trivial, but it is important. Food! During Freshers’ week in particular you’ll be rushed off your feet. Meeting new people, signing up for societies and in general finding your way around. Food may be the last thing on your mind so picking up the phone and ordering a take-away or getting a ready meal seems like a really easy option. This is an incredibly expensive way of shopping and surviving, not to mention unhealthy! What is suggest is during Freshers’ week, stock your fridge up as you arrive, so it’s one less thing to worry about. That is if you’re self-catering. If you are in catered accommodation, make sure to go to your meals, you’re paying for it! As time goes on, its very easy to fall in to bad habits of buying too much or too little food and wasting it or not eating enough. My advice here would be to meal plan. It helps you to save money, eat well and save wasting food. Cooking is something that can bring you and your housemates together. For me, in my house some of us love to cook, some not so much, but we all gather once a week over a group cooked meal and it becomes a social evening.
Tip two: another point close to my heart is sleep. I cannot emphasise more how important it is to keep on top of your sleep. You may have FOMO (fear of missing out) if you’re not the last one up every night and you don’t go on every night out, but honestly, by staying well-rested you will thank yourself when you have the busy week ahead. I love going out as much as the next person, but as the year progresses you will realise that it is vital to find a balance. No one will thank you for being grouchy when you’re tired but they will when you are lively and fun to be around.
This brings me on to tip three. Not sleeping enough can lead to people missing lectures. Particularly those early 9am’s. This really is not a habit you should be getting in to. Yes, the material may be posted online, but nothing is as good as the real thing. Being present in lectures and seminars is really crucial to achieving the best possible grade you can at university. Many freshers at university slip into the mind-set that “my first year doesn’t count; I just have to pass”. With that way of thinking, you’ll put more stress on yourself when exams and deadlines come around by doing last minute cramming which ultimately, will mean you sell yourself short. You’ve achieved getting a place at York, that in itself shows what you’re capable of, so my advice is get into good habits when you arrive, take it seriously and give yourself the best opportunity to do well.
My final bit of advice – tip four – is don’t get caught up in the stress of social pressures. It is likely that when you arrive at university you head will be flooded with the fear of who do I live with in second year. This is a decision some people expect you to make in the first few weeks of people and then committing to live with them for a whole year. How could you possibly make this huge decision when you barely know people? Don’t stress! This is not to get worried about. There is plenty advice available from the university and it is not something you have to decide straight away by any means. It is important that you don’t rush into things and make sure you like the individuals who you intend to live with.
Moreover, there are many changes when you go to university, some may be daunting and some overwhelming. There is likely to be stress coming from the academic side of university life so it is in your interest to minimise added pressures elsewhere. Whilst a little bit of stress is normal, copious amounts is unnecessary. After all you’re here to have fun and by staying on top of things, you can enjoy the university life to the full with no consequences.