I moved to England on the 20th of September 2014 (my birthday, for those who are especially interested!) with my whole life packed into two suitcases and one thousand questions, worries and scenarios made up in my head.
While I was crying my eyes out on my way to the airport it really hit me that I was going away – and for some stupid reason I kept talking myself down. ‘My English isn’t good enough’, ‘I can’t cook’, ‘I wont make any friends’, what if I fail my year?’ … the list continues. I wish I had someone then to tell me the following five things:
1. Everyone you meet is in the same situation as you!
It is so hard to forget, but it is true. Everyone will require their own time to adjust to moving and some might do this quicker than others. Be nice to everyone and have a positive attitude.
2. You don’t need to go out every single night, get ridiculously drunk and join 10 societies to make friends.
With that being said, going to some events during Freshers’ and joining a couple of societies are great opportunities to make new friends, but it is not the only way to make friends. You will make friends regardless of how much or little you go out during Freshers’.
3. If English isn’t your native language (like me) it will improve with time.
This obviously relies a bit on yourself as well; the more you practice speaking English the better it will be. It will be a hard change from the English you’ve learned at school to suddenly be surrounded by academic English everywhere – but you get used to it.
4. Cooking might be a challenge, but practice makes perfect.
Try and plan dinners with flatmates where you cook together or one person cooks and the others do the dishes. Like many other things, cooking at university is what you make it!
5. Re-sitting exams isn’t the end of the world.
Having only ever known how resitting exams in Norway works, I was quite horrified when I learned that it is a lot stricter in England! Luckily, I have never had to re-sit any exams or a year, but it can happen to anyone. The University goes above and beyond to help you and to accommodate you if you have special needs for an examination, but the hard work needs to be done by you.
Along with my top five points, here’s some extra advice I’d like to give you for your upcoming move to University:
Don’t get stuck with one group. This is very easy to do, because you meet a group of people you like and suddenly you do everything with them. There’s nothing wrong with that, but remember to be open to meeting others as well – you will meet new people through every year at University.
If you don’t like your flat – try and change it. Most people get on very well with their flatmates and of all the people I know at university I only know one person who changed flat duringfirst year. It’s good to keep in the back of your mind that the possibility is there, because you will spend a lot of time with your flatmates, so it’s in everyone’s interest that you get along.
And one last thing…
During your first year, you will be told numerous times by fellow students that ‘First year doesn’t count’. Keep in mind that this is not entirely true:
1. You do need to pass your first year, meaning 40% or over in all core modules.
2. If you want to go on exchange the application process happens when you are in your second year and your first-year grades will be a part of your application; the most competitive places obviously require good grades. This also applies to you if you wish to apply for internships in your second year.
3. If you end your third year and are just between a First and a 2:1 your tutors might go back to your first year and see that you had such a good average that they will give you a First …or vice versa if you didn’t work at all.
Apart from that… just enjoy your Freshers’ and welcome to the University of Southampton!
Our beautiful Highfield Campus