Anyway, giving advice can be hard sometimes because I think one of the best ways to learn is to experience things for yourself and just see what you think when you get here. However, if my friend Ivy and I were to summarise a few things we wish we would have done a little differently, or thought we did well, it would be these few things…
First of all, don’t wait for people to come to you; go and introduce yourself! Everyone is in the same boat, even though it might feel like you’re the odd one out. When I first moved into halls I arrived a day late. Well, technically I arrived in the middle of the night of moving in day because of my flight from Sweden, and at that time no one was around because there was a welcome party on campus for the Freshers). When I met everyone the next day I thought it seemed like everyone already knew each other really well. However, in hindsight I've realised that everyone was still just getting to know each other. I shared a kitchen with twenty other people in my first year so there were a lot of people to get to know in my flat! I was quite shy and waited until someone else introduced themselves first, but looking back I really didn't have anything to lose and could have made friends in halls a lot quicker had I just made more of an effort to introduce myself to everyone. And, just like you might feel grateful if someone came over to talk to you, I’m sure the other person would be thinking the same thing and would be grateful if you went and spoke to them too!
Me and some flatmates from my first year at the Freshers' ball.
Some of my first year flatmates and I celebrating my 20th birthday at halls.
Secondly, join societies. In my first (and second) year, I tried so many different societies and met loads of people who had similar interests as me. Go - even if you have to go alone! You will meet people there. I was the only person I knew when I joined the SubAqua Club and after a year I got my ocean diver qualifications as well as having met some people who I would have never have spoken to had I not joined the society. Furthermore, some of my best friends at uni are from the dance societies, but when I first arrived I went to all the classes without knowing anyone else there. Some people join in their second year but many of them regret not trying it out in their first year. Eventually, I got to know everyone and now I can’t imagine uni life without them. Having said that, as with my first example, I could have made friends with them much faster had I made more of an effort to get to know everyone and not waited for them to approach me first. Don’t be afraid to talk to the existing members. The first friends I made within the dance societies were also freshers, but now I’m just as close with those who were in the years above me. I’ll admit I was a little intimidated by them in the beginning but knowing them now, I really had no reason to be!
On the note of trying new things, just go to as many of the taster sessions as you can. Most of them are completely free and you are not obligated to join the society if you feel like it isn't really for you. You’ll get more information about taster sessions at the Bunfight during Freshers Week, where you can meet all the societies and student groups in one place! Just to give an example, in my first year I also tried a film society, archery and the athletics club amongst others and while I did enjoy them I knew I wouldn't have time for all of them, so I prioritised the different dance societies.
In terms of studying, I think everyone has their own methods which best suits them. I would just like to advise first year students to still put the extra effort into their work even thought your first year grades won’t directly count towards your degree. Some people might joke around saying you don’t have to work too hard during your first year because your marks don’t count, but the reason I’m mentioning this is because if you plan on applying for placements or internships during your summer break, they will often ask to see your first year grades and therefore you will want to have good grades to help you get the position you want.
These are the most important things Ivy and I could think of. While you might have heard some of them before it can sometimes be good to hear something a few times for it to really sink in. Hopefully this was inspiring or helpful and I wish you all a great start to uni life, and hope that you’re excited!