Make a good start to the year

Make a good start to the year

UPDATE TALKS DURING WELCOME WEEK

The Life Tools talks have been moved forward one day. So the talks planned for Tuesday 20 September will run on Wednesday 21. The talks planned for Wednesday 21 September will run on Thursday 22 September, and the talks planned for Thursday 22 September will run on Friday 23 September. The times and location/rooms will be the same.
There is no need to book. You can just come along
. See you soon!

Congratulations! You’ve made it. To all new students, welcome to the University of Reading, and welcome back to all of you who are returning to continue with your studies.
Well done for your efforts and achievements to get to this point.

A new beginning
Starting life at university will bring many new experiences that will be interesting and motivating. Also, you may have moments when you feel unsure about what to do. Most people going through a period of change are likely to experience some of these feelings, particularly when they have invested a lot of resources, and made significant efforts hoping for greater opportunities for the future.

Transitions are times of renewal, and they provide an opportunity to make changes that bring us positive feelings and experiences (Bridges, 2004). Learning to manage uncertainty helps us to adapt and manage situations.

As human beings, we are motivated to improve and to have a sense of achievement. We feel good when we can have a sense of satisfaction at having done something meaningful. Maintaining a flexible attitude and focus on learning enable us to adjust and keep well (Dweck, 2008)

Whenever we move to live in a different environment, there is a natural process of reorientation, where we also go through an internal process of reorienting and discovering how we see ourselves and how we relate to others.

In order to adjust to the new situation, it helps to trust your experience of how you adapted to other situations before and focus on the present where you will find new and interesting opportunities and discover your strengths.

You may notice differences and perhaps may compare with what you are familiar. There will be new and interesting things to explore and discuss with others, and there may be a few awkward and uncomfortable moments. Keep in mind that these feelings are normal when meeting new people.

As you get to know more, and you begin to find your way around in your new environment, you will notice that things begin to feel more familiar and that you will to know other students who you can relate to.

Each day, look for what was good about your day, and what you learned. If there were some disappointing or frustrating experiences, decide what you can learn from the experience, and what you can do differently next time.

Tips to make a good start to the academic year

Develop a healthy routine:
Starting a new life at university will bring a lot of changes, such as being in a different room, eating different food, having a new timetable and, of course, meeting new people. A change of environment can have an impact on how our body reacts. For example, it may take a bit of time to adjust your sleep pattern.

Developing a routine is essential to maintain our energy level to adjust to the new situation and function well. For example, eating healthy foods, exercise to strengthen your fitness, which will help to have a good night’s sleep.

Focus on learning:
Whenever starting a degree or a new academic year, it will present new experiences and challenges. If something does not work out as we expected to deal with these setbacks, it is helpful to acknowledge the reality of what has happened and focus on what we can learn from the experience.  

For questions about your academic work, you can contact your Tutors and ask for advice. Also, check the Study Advice website where you will find useful information on study techniques and more. For other concerns, you can contact Student Services.

Explore and engage in activities:
You may already have explored the university website to find out what activities are available that you can explore, and where you can meet other students who are also looking to meet new people and make friends. You can check RUSU–the Students Union website, or go to their offices on Whiteknights campus to find out about what activities and services they offer.

Learn about academic standards:
It is exciting to get to what we have been planning for a long time. Starting a new course or making progress through the years to complete a degree is motivating. We can also experience uncertainty and self-doubt, which is understandable as we have not done this activity before.

While being optimistic and looking forward to starting your degree, it is normal to feel apprehension at first. You may have questions, for example, “What will the modules be like? Will the course be hard?” Notice your feelings and view these as signals that it matters to you to do well, and that you are living a new experience.

Make social connections:
Whenever we find ourselves in a new place, we hope to make new friends and establish relationships. Our natural inclination is to communicate with others, and where it is possible, to feel comfortable to talk and share experiences.

Perhaps it may take longer than you expected to make new friends, and you may feel the need to contact your family a lot. Give it a bit of time before contacting them, and initiate a conversation with a classmate or a flatmate. Then, when you contact your family, you can tell them about your new experiences.

At first, you may feel rather self-conscious about starting a conversation with other students. This feeling is normal as you are learning about them. In your previous environment, you knew the people around you and had established relationships with them so it felt more comfortable. Acknowledging this is a new situation will help to manage the initial discomfort.

The first time we are away from home can be challenging. Most people experience a mixture of excitement and apprehension because of uncertainty as we do not know how things will work out. However, accepting this is part of the process of adjustment, we can focus on exploring our new environment.

Feeling homesick is a normal reaction because of being away from what is familiar, where others know us and we feel comfortable because we know what to expect. In the new place, we need time to get used to how things work and get to know new people. It is a change process, and it takes time to adjust. You will get used to the new situation, and as you develop a healthy routine and contact others, these feelings will ease, and you will notice that you are becoming familiar with your new student life.

You can find more information in the Looking after yourself booklet

Communicating in a second language:
As you are absorbing significant amounts of new information, your brain is working hard to process it to understand and communicate with others. It can take time and energy to adjust to studying in a second language, and to build proficiency and confidence in your skills.

Even though you might feel self-conscious speaking in English, practice speaking the language as much as you can. Instead of trying to speak without errors, keep in mind that what matters is to communicate with others. If you are not clear about something, ask others to repeat so you can understand. After a while, you will build your confidence and will become more fluent.

We look forward to seeing you in our Life Tools talks and webinars.

Wishing you all a stimulating time and that you have rewarding experiences during this academic year.

References:

Bridges, W. (2004) Transitions. Making sense of life´s changes. Massachusetts: Da Capo Press.

Dweck, C.S, (2008) Mindset. The new psychology of success. How we can learn to fulfil our potential. New York: Ballantine Books. 

Tierney, J. and Baumeister, R.F. (2019) The power of bad and how to overcome it. Great Britain: Allen Lane.

Settling in: Adjusting to a new environment

Settling in: Adjusting to a new environment

Welcome to all new students, and welcome back to all of you who are returning to continue your studies.

We are all looking forward to being on campus and connect with others. Certainly, after last year’s lockdowns, it is normal to feel a bit apprehensive about being around more people. As human beings, we can adapt to changing circumstances. It will take a bit of time, but soon you will notice that things will feel more familiar as you meet new people and learn about your course.

For some of you, this may be the first time you are away from home, and others coming from abroad will notice differences in living and studying here.

Managing transitions

At the start of of something new, many people experience some mixed feelings. Sometimes we may miss family, friends, and your familiar environment. In general, most people prefer certainty, to have a sense of how things will turn out to prepare for situations to manage them. We need to learn to manage uncertainty as it helps us to adapt and learn.

Transitions are times of renewal, and they provide an opportunity to make changes that bring us positive feelings and experiences (Bridges, 2004). We are motivated to improve and to have a sense of achievement. We feel good when we can have a sense of satisfaction for having done something meaningful. Maintaining a flexible attitude and focus on learning enable us to adjust and keep well (Dweck, 2008)

Each day look for what was good about your day, and what you learned. If there were some disappointing or frustrating experiences, decide what you can learn from the experience, and what you may do differently next time.

What matters now is to focus on what you can control and let go of what you cannot. Identifying something you can do and getting started will help restore a sense of competence and confidence.

Understanding homesickness:

Starting in a new place for the first few days and sometimes the first few weeks can be unsettling. You may feel that although you want to go out and participate in the activities, you may not feel too keen to be in a large group or be in a situation where you do not know anyone.

Acknowledge these feelings – it just means that you are going through a transition and that your body needs a bit of time to adjust to the new environment. Then, start to connect with one student at a time, you can discuss the information you collect and see what you find interesting.

When feeling homesick, you may feel as if you are the only one experiencing these feelings. However, many people experience this feeling when moving to a new place. What matters is to acknowledge the feelings and then take some steps to contact others.

To manage this period, you can remind yourself of the transition periods you have gone through before (e.g., from primary to secondary school). After a while, you gradually got used to the new situation.

Think about what things you like doing, perhaps you can invite another student in your flat to go out and explore the campus or you can go into town and explore your new environment.

Strategies to adjust to a new environment:

Develop healthy routines: Starting a new life at university will bring many changes, both in terms of different ways of doing things, new information to take in and adjusting to relating to new people.  It will also bring many internal changes in terms of how you feel about your choices, your feelings and how you see yourself. 

It is essential to maintain our energy level during transitions as we need it to process information and manage our emotions. Develop healthy routines such as eating well to nurture your body, exercise to strengthen your fitness and sleep well to maintain an optimum energy level. It is fundamental to feel well and confident as you go about your day.

You can find more information in the Looking after yourself booklet. 

Managing worry thoughts: Sometimes, we may experience doubt and worry about what would be best, so it can be challenging to make decisions. If things do not work out how you hoped they would at first, it does not mean that you made the wrong decision. For example, if you feel disappointed that the module is not what you expected or that your accommodation is not quite what you had hoped. Instead, you can look for some aspect of the situation that can provide you with useful information and decide what you can do to make things better next time.

Focus on learning: As human beings, we are naturally curious, and enjoying learning is one of the best ways to maintain our motivation and manage our emotions. 

You can explore the  Life Tools programme and participate in the webinars. You will also receive a weekly email with the webinars planned for the following week. Students have said they like to join because it is a safe space, the content is researched-based, and they can meet other likeminded students who are keen to do well and keep well.  

“The fact the Life Tools programme had something for me to work towards and earned me a certificate at the end was a key selling point – it was personal in that it was me focusing on doing the best for myself, but also academic/professional in that I could add it to my CV for potential employers to see my dedication to personal growth and healthy lifestyle.(Student) 

Check this video describing the programme and hear a student giving feedback. Why not try a webinar and see what you think? You can dip in and out, and there are no assessments.

Connect with others:  As you begin your journey at university, your curiosity and interest in getting to know other students will be stimulating and rewarding.

Explore the activities on offer by checking the Welcome Week programme. You may feel uncertain about what would be best to do as you do not want to miss out on things. Choose the activities that you think could be interesting, and if you cannot get to one that you like, try another. 

You can check out RUSU’s website for events they have planned for you during Welcome Week. You can follow their social media to keep up to date with future activities on campus and online.

International students can find out about resources available on the International students page on Essentials. For upcoming events check their Facebook  page and their Twitter account @UniRdg_IntStu

How about attending a few and see what you find out? These provide a good opportunity to get to know other students. 

Communicating in a second language:  As you are absorbing significant amounts of new information, your brain is working hard to process all of it so that you can use it in your day-to-day.

For those of you coming from other countries, it will take a bit of time to get used to communicating in a second language most of the time. It will require practice to build language proficiency and confidence in your skills. 

Even though you might feel self-conscious speaking in English, focus on practising the language as much as you can. Instead of expecting to speak in English without errors – focus on communicating with others. Making mistakes is how we learn and develop skills. If you do not understand something, do ask others to repeat what they said. People will be understanding as they also want to share with you. After a while, you will build your confidence and will gradually become more fluent.

Wishing you all a stimulating time and that you have rewarding experiences during this academic year.

Reference:

Bridges, W. (2004) Transitions. Making sense of life´s changes. Massachusetts: Da Capo Press.

Dweck, C.S.,(2008) Mindset. The new psychology of success. How we can learn to fulfill our potential. New York: Ballantine Books. 

Tierney, J. and Baumeister, R.F. (2019) The power of bad and how to overcome it. Great Britain: Allen Lane.

Welcome to the academic year 2020-2021

Welcome to the academic year 2020-2021

Dear all

We want to welcome you back for the start of the new term. Well done for your efforts to make progress with your studies during lockdown due to Covid-19.

Those of you who are about to start a new course this may be the first time that you are away from home and living independently. Some of you may be coming to university as a break from work to improve your career opportunities and are looking forward to learning about your chosen subject. At the same time, it may feel a bit strange to be a student again. 
Read more

Settling: after the first few weeks

Settling: after the first few weeks

Looking after your health:
So now you have been at University for a few weeks: the weather is starting to change, it is getting colder, and the days are becoming shorter.

During this change of season, when the temperature fluctuates so much, it is very common to catch a cold. Some of the symptoms are uncomfortable, such as having a general sense of not feeling well, perhaps having a headache, and having trouble breathing due to congestion.
Read more

Settling in: getting to know your new environment

Settling in: getting to know your new environment

Settling in

Welcome to all new students, and welcome back to all of you who are returning to continue with your studies. Well done for your efforts and achievements to get to this point.

For some of you this may be the first time that you are away from your familiar environment. And for others, this may have meant a long journey from your home country to come to study in the UK. And some of you, although being a home student, will also be exploring your new space.
Read more

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