Thursday, 14 August 2014

Life After A Levels: University Tips

A note from Joelle... 

♫ ♪ 'Hall of Fame' - The Script ♫ ♪

HELLO! Today is A Level results day and I hope you did well and got into the uni/college that you wanted! Even if you didn't get into your first choice uni, you are still going to have the most amazing experience and will meet some incredible people! If you got your A2 results today and are going to Uni, I salute you! Seriously, you've done the hardest bits of work you'll do in a long time! *applauds*
This is just an honest post about my experience around the time I got my results (in 2012) and I hope it helps you if you are a bit nervous about moving away from home next month.
This is my uni! Looks a bit like Hogwarts, right?
Use a doorstop  - This might sound really weird, but a little doorstop could change your life! How? Well, when you move into your new room at uni, it's better to keep your door open so that people are more likely to stop and say 'hi'. If you shut your door straight away: A) your flatmates might not know you've arrived
B) you might feel scared/nervous to open your door and meet your new flatmates.
When your door is open, you can break the awkwardness more easily as people won't have to knock for you.

There's more to Fresher's than nightclubs and alcohol - Yep that's right! I know lots of people that hid away during Fresher's because they didn't like clubbing with strangers or heavy drinking. It's not rare to feel like this at all. Check your Uni's Fresher's Guide to find other things to do like comedy nights, theatre trips, dinner parties, gigs, cookery sessions, movie nights and loads more. 
You will definitely find something that suits you.

First Year DOES matter - Sorry to break it to ya but it is there for a reason! First year is there to get everyone up to the same level of knowledge, so it's good to do well and demonstrate that you know what your course is about. It's especially important if you are a foreign student who may not have learnt the same things as local students.
BUT this doesn't mean that you have to borrow every book in the library and live like a hermit to get the grades. Work hard, but take some time off to socialise too!

Know at least 3 recipes - It doesn't have to be gourmet, but you HAVE to know how to cook a few meals that involve a stove (not a microwave/oven). You might think it funny that you can't make meals, but over time, you might come across as lazy or spoilt.  
Cookbooks are expensive, so try YouTube chef channel instead like, SORTEDFood, Donal Skehan and Jamie Oliver for fast, fresh and delicious food.

Save money and SKYPE - If you don't live too far away from your uni, you may decide to go home every weekend. Whilst your parents will love having you back, you may run the risk of not bonding with your uni friends if you are gone so often. Try to find a balance between your new life at uni and your home life.
It's a good idea to get a free Skype account, so you can webcam your parents/friends from the comfort of your bedroom. It will save you £££ and you get to see a familiar face.

Join A Society - Please do this! You will definitely regret not doing this if you choose not to. There is something for everyone and it's great to make friends with similar interests to you.
If you join a sports society (eg netball, swimming, lacrosse, rugby) there will be loads of events to meet other members and that will build team morale.
It's normal to think that your uni friends will judge you if you choose a quirky society/sport, but WHO CARES? It's YOUR experience, so you should do what you want!
All information about joining societies and sports clubs will be given at your Fresher's Fayre.

BE NICE - Being a dick gets you nowhere and fast. Sure, people might know your name, but being loud, the joke of the lectures and seemingly unapproachable is not a good thing in the long run!

Budget - To be honest, I'm in no position what-so-ever to lecture anyone about money as I practically devoured my student loan in the first term of uni.
What I would say though is when you get your student loan/grant... PUT MONEY ASIDE for your monthly rent and weekly food. Then do whatever you want with the rest!

Make the most out of being a Fresher - once it's over, it's over. So, be the best version of yourself and try to meet as many new people as possible (including International students!!!!!). Once lectures begin, you'll find people become a bit more reserved as they are cracking on with work, so the weeks leading up to that is a good time to interact with everyone.

Don't rely on alcohol for confidence - You will find lots of students heavily depend on alcohol/drugs to boost their confidence and 'banter'. Don't be one of them. If you are shy, practice conversation starters to use at parties (everyone will deny doing this, but most have done it!) or whatever works for you! It's not a good look if you can't hold a decent conversation without a drink in your hand.
Try to make friends with people who are genuine - I have found that most people try to gravitate towards the 'popular' group instead of people they might actually have things in common with. Don't judge people by their clothes/hair/accent, because 99% of the time, they will surprise you! 

Accommodation - If you got into uni last minute through clearing or adjustment, you might not have a great choice of accommodation. Most private accommodations (not on the uni campus) let you choose to live with just boys/girls/mixed/vegetarians/non-smokers, etc so just pick what is the most comfortable for you.
Like I said previously, try not to judge your flatmates on their accents, style or course choice. You could become best friends with people you never would have thought you'd get on with!
I couldn't make up my mind whether I wanted to accept my firm choice at Keele or completely risk everything and go to Aberdeen. I chose the latter (I seem to love taking risks!) and with only a week until Fresher's, I did not have accommodation sorted. After calling up private accommodation numbers every hour of every day, I finally got something!
My flatmates (all from different European countries) were so lovely and we all got on really well!

Relaxxxxxxxx - Most people starting uni will be in the same boat as you - all a bit nervous and anxious, so don't think you're alone. But the first term does come around quite fast and next thing you know, it's the Christmas break!
The best thing to do to make you feel comfortable is to make your uniform as 'homey' as possible. So buy some candles, posters, rugs, etc and you'll feel all warm and fuzzy in no time - promise!

Chit Chat - Try to spark up a conversation in lectures and seminars. It was scary how quickly friendship groups and cliques were formed, or so I thought. As a very socially-observant person, I was worried I would be left behind - especially in lectures.
I was really intimidated at the size of my lecture classes (over 200 students!) in first year and use to hide away from talking to people I didn't know. But as soon as I relaxed and made the first move in getting to know people on my course, it made going to lectures so much easier. On the outside, it may look like people on your course have already made friends/cliques, but trust me, most people are just as nervous as you and want to meet new people! Sometimes, you just have to make the first move and get chatting!
I am starting 3rd year (I'M SO OLD!) next month and I cannot believe how quickly time has gone! My course is 4 years, so I still have time to find work placements and actually decide which path I should take once I graduate. Eeeeek, exciting, but scary times!
 First year may seem like a bit of a mess during the first few months but trust me, it will definitely get better in time! It's perfectly normal to have doubts about your future and even change your course. But remember, there are alway people to help both on and off campus!
When I started my degree, I cried almost every day for three months (let's keep that between us!)
I was so far up north in another country, my course was hard and I felt like I wasn't making as many friends as I'd like.
But....... As soon as I calmed down, realised I had to actually make an effort with people/my studies, things quickly turned around and I am the happiest I've been in years!
Just stick will it, work hard and don't take any crap from anyone (including lecturers!). It will all work out - promise! :)

I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful. 
Please let me know what you think about university in general!
Are you about to go to uni/or not? Or if you graduated...What was your Uni experience like?


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