With my first year exams over in a few days, I can’t help but think of how fast this year has come and gone; I’ve met people I would consider friends for life, and made memories that will be treasured. I remember starting, being terrified yet excited about living alone for the first time, wondering how I’d get by. As with anything, it’s had its ups and downs, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. However, there are small bits of knowledge I’ve gained in this year about first year that I think is important for all new students going to university to consider- some advice and reassurances that I’d like to have known at the beginning of the year. With the year coming to a close, and new students soon arriving, I think this is the perfect time to share this information.
1. Meeting people in the first week
It’s definitely possible that you meet your future best friend in the first week- maybe you’re lucky and they turn out to be a flatmate. For most of us though, I don’t think this was true. I met my now very close friendship group about a month into my course, but I know for others it took longer. Don’t be ashamed of feeling lonely in the first week. It happens to everyone and it’s perfectly normal. Saying that, talk to as many people you can and try to get involved in the Residence Life activities that are provided by the university accommodation. The more people you talk to, the higher the chances that you’ll meet future friends for life.
I came to university not knowing anyone, and although I spoke to a lot of people, though many of them I still consider friends, I still felt extremely lonely in the first week. I think that’s unavoidable – you’re always going to miss your friends at home. But give it a few weeks, talk to your flatmates and course mates and give it a chance – I promise you’ll meet people eventually.
2. Keep snacks and quick meals around
There’s always going to be times when you really don’t feel like cooking, especially if your parents used to cook for you. By freezing meals in advance for these occasions, or buying ready meals, you make sure that you’re still looking after yourself whilst also only having to use the microwave. If all else fails, you can always order in. With university being as it is, it’s easy to get lost in work, keeping snacks and meals about will always help if you’ve accidentally left assignments until the last minute. And if you don’t mind cooking but don’t feel like talking to your flatmates, it also means very quick trips to the kitchen.
3. Don’t forget to bring photos of your friends and family
This helps personalise your room a bit more and can make your room seem like a home away from home a lot quicker. Saying that, don’t forget to take photos from your time in Sheffield! Take it from me, the year passes way too quickly and photos can help capture moments so you can remember them in future years.
I’ve also found that getting any siblings or parents to send pictures of my dog and cat also help a lot if I’m missing them- print them out too and decorate your walls. You won’t regret being able to see your pets every day, even if they’re just still images.
4. Keep a small first aid kit with you
When you’re cooking for yourself, it’s amazing how many accidents you can achieve. Even if you’re just walking to uni, it’s still possible that you’ll get blisters, or accidentally fall over – especially if it’s been snowing. Keep a small first aid kit with plasters and antiseptic wipes with you wherever you can. You’ll use it a good few times during the year, even if you think that you won’t.
5. Make sure you know how to write an essay
This one sounds slightly odd; you’ve probably been writing essays for years throughout sixth form or college, and even before that. However, make sure you know how to write one for your course, learn the correct referencing system and have a look online for any tips! Even just using correct grammar and avoiding contractions can help – learning more about your course’s essay style will always help, even if you think it won’t.
Saying all this though, the biggest tip for university is just to enjoy yourself. Enjoy the quiet nights in with friends, the alcohol-induced accidents – even the bad times! Keep a positive outlook and try your best, because even if you’re struggling and not adapting as fast as others seem to be, there will always be others in the same position. Everything will turn out alright.