Hi! I’m Rebecca and I’m in my first year of studying History here at the University of York. I’ve had a great start to uni and I’ve been able to get involved in so much more than just my course, which has really helped me to adjust to life here!
Usually, if I have a seminar, my day starts at half seven. This gives me enough time to get sorted, have breakfast and get across campus for a 9am start.
I live on Campus East, about ten minutes from the main campus, and I usually walk or cycle over to my lectures and seminars. Though on cold and rainy mornings, it’s nice to be able to take the bus!
Seminars make up a large part of teaching in the Department of History. They are a great way to discuss and ask questions about your reading or lectures. Usually, the seminar leader is either a lecturer or a postgraduate student. They give a structure to the seminars and prompt you to think about what was discussed in the lecture.
I really enjoy seminars because they give you an opportunity to ask about the lecture or something you’ve read. Also, develop your understanding of the subject by talking to other students about what they found. Talking in a group can be a bit scary at first. Especially if you feel a bit out of your depth. But the good news is, everyone feels the same way and you’re not expected to get it right first time. Actually, a lot of history at degree level is about learning that there probably isn’t a ‘right’ answer at all!
For each seminar, we’re given a reading list. Although a lot of the material is online, I much prefer reading the actual books. So after my seminar, I go to the library to pick up next week’s reading. If it’s not too busy I’ll spend a bit of time there getting used to the content and the main approach of each source so it’s a bit easier when I start reading in detail.
Then I’ll head back to my accommodation for a bit of lunch before starting any work or reading I have. Luckily we don’t get a ton of essays on top of our reading. But that does mean that you’re expected to know the material and be able to discuss it during your seminars. They’ll definitely know if you’re not pulling your weight!
I usually work best in my room, but some people prefer working in the library or in the social areas dotted around campus. It all depends on how you work and what you’re doing.
By around half five most people in the house have finished their contact hours and we end up hanging out in the kitchen while we make dinner. It’s great to take some time out from studying and relax. Uni life is a lot easier when you have people who understand and can make you laugh at the end of a long day!
Most evenings, we’ll try to do something as a group. Either going out into town, going to one of our college’s events or just playing Cards Against Humanity in the kitchen.
I’m also part of the musical theatre and creative writing societies, which have regular meetups on campus. Societies are a great way of meeting new people aside from those on your course and in your accommodation. They’re a lot of fun too!
I’ve also recently been elected as one of my college’s wellbeing officers. I’m really looking forward to helping out in the college community and giving something back to the university.
Normally before I go to bed I’ll take some time to talk to my family and see what’s going on back home. Not having your family and friends from home nearby can be really difficult, especially during that first couple of weeks. But I found that getting stuck in with uni life really helped me feel more comfortable in my surroundings and with the people I was living with. It definitely helped me to keep my mind off home. I still try to stay in touch with everyone though and visit home a couple of times during the term when I can – particularly if I’m missing my cat!
Hopefully, this has given you a useful inside perspective on university life and has helped you feel a bit more confident about coming to study at York! The whole university is so friendly and supportive. Away from your studies, there are loads of opportunities to get involved with your college, societies, and sports teams.
My advice for a good first year would be to try and get stuck in with everything and have fun alongside your work. Just don’t forget about studying!