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.
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.
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.