10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started University

Friday 18 September 2020, First year

by Rebecca

10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started University

With 2 years of university currently under my belt I’ve had plenty of learning opportunities and times to reflect on my experience so far. As a fine art student at the University of Chichester my course is largely practical and spent in the studio but I still have to attend regular history of art lectures and seminars. I have learned a lot of new things since beginning my course, some of which seem incredibly strange, so I’m going to share some of my wisdom with all of you whether you’re still in the application process or are a couple of months into your first year.

1. Your student loan is not free money

Contrary to popular belief, the student loan that you receive is not just free money for you to squander. You’re really going to need every penny to get you through the year and even then it will be tight! Make sure to budget and save as much as you can while still being able to enjoy your time.

2. Look after your physical and mental health

Your health is super important so make sure that you take care of yourself as you don’t have someone there to remind you to eat properly and take time for yourself. Try to keep on top of things and learn how to deal with stress and anxiety and if you need any help do not be afraid to ask for it.

3. First year does count 

During first year there are always some students that won’t show up to classes with the mind-set that it doesn’t count towards your final degree. First year is incredibly important in giving you the tools to help you through until third year and helping you fall into a pattern of regular work so you can get the best out of your degree. Just because it doesn’t count doesn’t mean it isn’t important.

4. Don’t leave referencing to last 

Referencing is my absolute least favourite thing about Uni meaning I have often left it to last when I’ve written an essay, something I have regretted every single time. Take my advice and learn how to reference properly within the first month. There are loads of apps, books and tips out there to help you with that dreaded bibliography so use them!

5. The library is your best friend 

The LRC will probably be where you spend the most amount of time throughout the year so use it wisely. My Uni has a fantastic library with every single book on my reading list. Check this out before spending unnecessary amounts of money on books for your course. Also learn how to use the library systems, such as finding online journals, because these will come in handy!

6. You don’t need to live up to the student stereotype

Some students, including myself, love nothing more than making a to-do list, getting stuff done and rewarding themselves with a good film and cup of tea. Do not let the student stereotype pressure you into acting a certain way at Uni. There are so many different types of students that I’m sure you can find someone to have a movie and PJ’s night with.

7. Make connections 

Networking is so important as a student. It can impact job opportunities once you have graduated and it can help massively in getting a great final grade! When opportunities to meet important professional people arise try not to miss them because you never know when that connection might come in handy. Always remember to introduce yourself and make a positive, lasting impression.

8. Freshers’ flu is not a myth 

I laughed in the face of the people who told me about Freshers’ Flu. Surely me, with the immune system of steel, wouldn’t be taken down by a cold? I was wrong, and have continued to be wrong every September since. Freshers’ Flu is real, you will get it and so will every person around you including your tutors. Be prepared!

9. You don’t need to join every society 

Universities often have a Freshers event where you get so bombarded with societies and clubs that you often end up joining three sports teams, a film society, a games society and everything in between. Don’t feel under pressure to join societies you have no interest in. All you’ll end up doing is stressing yourself out by having no free time. Really think about your interests and what you’d like to try and don’t be afraid to give it a go!

10. Enjoy every moment 

I have a very firm belief that time speeds up when you’re at Uni so make sure to enjoy every second of it. Get things done on time so you can have fun instead of pulling all nighters to finish assignments. University is such a roller-coaster but it’s filled with so many opportunities, new friends and new experiences for you to enjoy!

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