things i wish i’d known in my first year of university
I’m reaching the end of my time at university and it’s got me all sentimental. and regretful. There are a number of things that I had learned during my time at university that I wish I’d known during first year.
- Read everything. The only valid excuse for not reading everything on the reading list is that you didn’t have time, not that you found it boring, or that it wasn’t useful. Because there’s nothing scarier than trying to write an essay on something you studied a month ago, and you have no notes on the topic.
- Revise constantly. I wish I’d revisited everything I did a week after I did it, just as a recap. I tended to focus on what I was doing in the moment because it felt the most important thing at the time. Well, during exams, everything is equal. And it’s so frustrating not quite being able to remember something. So, revise. Even just for ten minutes.
- Don’t spend all of your money on impulse. I’ve bought so much rubbish that I really don’t need. And if I’d saved that money, I could have gone on holiday. Save every last penny you can.
- Eat well. I just said that you should save all the money you can, but I think that food is one exception to that rule. Try and save money where you can, obviously, but don’t go for days and days without fresh vegetables because you’re saving money for a holiday. Your mind, as well as your body, needs food.
- Go and talk to professors in their student hours. I used to find this so awkward. To be honest, I still do. But if you’re going sending them an email and asking for clarification on a topic, consider maybe popping into their office when it’s open to students. And tell them if you’re struggling! If you don’t let them know, then they can’t help you.
- Take hot drinks with you, to your lectures or to the library. Don’t spend all your money in the library cafe. Bring a flask of tea, and loads of study snacks in a packed lunch box. Trust me on this.
- Make time to meet up with friends you haven’t seen in ages. Don’t wait for them to ask you. I make sure to socialise with my friends at least twice a week. And by socialise, I don’t mean getting blind drunk and going clubbing. Sit down and have lunch together. Chat. Get to know each other properly. Friendships formed over alcohol never last as long as friendships formed through actual conversation.
- Do stuff that the university puts on for students. Join societies. Get involved. One of the best nights I ever had at university was a masquerade ball that my college put on. And for some reason, I’ve never done anything like that since then? And I don’t understand why! University is for making memories, and I don’t really have many!
- Travel around your university town. If you’re university is on a campus, don’t let your life revolve around that one place. If you’ve travelled away from home to go to university, then make it worth your while! See the sights, be a tourist, get on a bus and go to a random town and buy ice cream.
- Experiment. This is the time. Dye your hair blue, join a weird and random society and take up a hobby you’d never dreamed of. If you want to try drugs, make sure it’s a safe environment and do your research before hand. If you don’t want to do that kind of thing, then don’t judge other people for doing so.
- Give yourself a day off per week. When you’re at university and you’ve got loads of work, it’s tempting to just work constantly - or at least, to work every day, if not all the time. But it’s so much better for your mental state to take a day off to just relax.
- Keep up with your chores. When you’re stressed about an assignment, you don’t want to be also stressed about that pile of washing up accumulating by the sink. Keep your room tidy too - clear space, clear mind.
- Be kind to everyone. You’re going to meet a lot of people at university, some you’re going to hit it off with immediately. But there will be some who really rub you up the wrong way. Don’t worry about it, it’s completely fine to not like someone. But don’t be mean to them. This isn’t high school, you’re all here to learn and there’s just no need to make them feel bad about themselves. It’s just petty and childish.
- Think about the future. I know that you’re completely wrapped up in your university life right now, but you’re going to have to venture out into the real world at some point. Do things that might help your future career: volunteer, get a job, join a sports club, make connections. University isn’t, sadly, forever.
There you have it! The advice that I would have given myself in the first year of university. Whether you’re just about to start university, or whether you’re just about to leave, I hope this is useful to you.