First year stories

Third year student Emily shares her experiences of first year…


Let’s face it, first year is a real learning curve as you settle in: busy befriending your flatmates and trying to stay awake during those 9am lectures. Making some mistakes in your first year is probably inevitable but from someone whose first year is done and dusted, here’s some advice and tips from what I learnt.

Your flatmates will likely leave the kitchen a bit messier than you’d expect, but don’t let your dirty plates pile up in the sink for too long. If you’re in Halls, the cleaners won’t do your washing up for you and can refuse to clean the surfaces if they think it’s too messy. You also don’t want to end up with Fresher’s Flu Mark 2, courtesy of your dirty cutlery.

Start your assignments as soon as possible. by doing so you can get general feedback from your lecturer if you have any questions along the way. From personal experience, leaving essays and coursework until the day before submission and having to pull an all-nighter fuelled by caffeine is incredibly stressful and not recommended!

Union is great fun and while going out on a Wednesday is a laugh, you’ll notice that third years have learnt the hard way and try not to do it every single Saturday and Wednesday. Especially when you have a morning seminar or lecture on Thursday, it’s best not to annoy your tutor when you’re struggling to concentrate hours later after one too many snakebites.

Make use of the support services on campus, most of these are based within the Carrington building with help such as counselling on offer, but you also have your Academic Tutor on hand to chat to if you’re stressed out about your studies. There’s also lots of free mindfulness talks and events happening throughout the year. Not only do they count towards the RED award, but they give advice from sleeping better to how to prevent procrastination, both of which I found really useful. Don’t suffer in silence, others will be feeling the same way too.

Try to make the most of the 9 grand you’re paying this year, join some societies and consider getting part-time work with CampusJobs. If you feel as though you’re struggling to settle in or a little bit homesick like we all get at times, this is a great way to make new friends and get you out of your room on quieter days. There’s also the beautiful Whiteknights lake on main campus to explore alone or with your friends when you need a breather or two (with cute ducklings in the spring). Taking these opportunities will also be great for your mental health and help to increase your productivity.

First year is going to be a whirlwind, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I did and avoid the mistakes my friends and I made as freshers.

Whiteknights by Emily Shewell

Whiteknights Lake, captured by Emily

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