Hellooo there little ones!
If you follow me of twitter or insta then you'll probably already know, but for those who don't I AM GRADUATING! Yes, me, graduating. I also can't quite believe it don't worry!
It doesn't feel like almost 3 years ago I turned up at my university halls of residence with a car full or belongings and a tearful mother.
I know that a lot of people will be starting university this September and are probably feeling quite worried about the moving out, living in a new city, studying something new and making friends. I just wanted to talk about my university experience, the things I have done, what I would have done differently, how I feel at the end of the road and maybe offer some advice to all you little ones starting the journey this year.
Choosing the right course: It took me a very long time to choose my course, but when I finally decided, I was convinced it was right for me. I spent my first year hardly understanding anything and reading A LOT to keep up with the people that had studied politics at A-level, and therefore already knew all the fancy vocab. I made it through the year but became unsure about my choice. It wasn't until my third and final year of my degree that I realised there was a small little corner of it that I absolutely loved and have now dedicated another year to on a masters course! Moral of the story: there will be bits of your course you hate and bits you love, aged 16-18 feels far too young to be narrowing your education down to one subject. Just spend some thinking time and do some research and you'll soon find the right course, don't just go with whatever springs to mind first.
Choosing accommodation: So another big step is choosing the accommodation you are going to live in for the first year. I only had a few choices and chose to be on campus in the most popular flats. I was really lucky and my 5 flatmates are still my closest friends at university. Be realistic with the money you have and if that means you have to go in the cheaper, less popular accommodation, it really is not the end of the world! In the end you meet people from all the different halls, just make sure you have a good look at the online photos and have a look if there are any reviews and this should aid your decision!
Making friends: Your first friends are going to be your flatmates, now if you feel that maybe they aren't your type of friends then that's okay. Just make sure to get out there and socialise! During your first year you will have the most free time you have ever had in your life, say YES to drinks with so-and-so or that house party at flat 10, you might end up meeting your best friend there! Join the societies and sports teams you are interested in, whether it links to your course or you've decided you want to try radio producing or badminton, GO! Everyone else will be in the same boat as you, broaden your horizons, explore your interests, normally societies and sports teams have a couple of weeks where you can go and try it out before you actually have to commit to buying a membership so make sure to utilise these. You'll meet lots of like-minded people and its also great to do something extra other than studying and partying!
Enjoy your first year: Looking back I'm really glad that I stuck to this, I went to my lectures and did the work and finished the year with a 2:1 which I was happy with. But I'm so glad that I did take the opportunity to go out with all my friends or with the football girls over another night in the library. In first year you do have this choice, whereas by the time third year rolls around (trust me it literally speeds round the corner) you will not have that choice. In most U.K. universities, first year doesn't count and so it is not the end of the world if you don't do as well as you want to, first year is more a way of easing you into the university system. Use the year to make friends, make memories and experience new things! Work hard and show you deserve your place there but don't take anything too seriously.
Be sociable at lectures: Now this is something I wish someone had told me. I spent most of first year sitting with my one friend being unsociable and feeling a bit left out of the 'course crew'. I had never been in a situation where people were so closed and seemed to had already established themselves - it made me quite uncomfortable. After my second year abroad (check out some of my travel posts here and here and here), I came back in third year like a beam of sunshine - even if I do say so myself - I spoke to everyone and shared my stories of studying abroad. Before I knew it, some of the people on my course had become some of my closest buddies at university and we started realising all the mutual friends we already had! Better late than never I guess.
Take every opportunity: Now this is a BIG one for me. I spent my second year abroad as part of an Erasmus exchange programme (find out what I'm talking about here). The only reason I knew about this opportunity is because I read the little notification on my universities internet platform that sent me to an external link. Look out for opportunities everywhere, in fact, go looking for them! Universities have the biggest range of opportunities and most of it is free or you may even get paid for doing something you love!
Don't do it because it's 'easy': Nothing is going to be easy about moving out, making new friends and studying something new BUT what I'm trying to say is don't just go to that university because all your friends are going there, don't do that course cause thats your best subject and definitely don't do anything because you think it is the easiest route. Go wherever you want to go, I came down south to Bristol and I was the only one of a thousand students to do so, it was scary but by far the best decision. I chose a degree subject which I hadn't studied at Alevel but I knew I had a passion for, again, not at all easy. When you feel those tugs on your heart, when that gut instinct kicks in, follow that decision, even if you think it may be the hardest one it will definitely be worth it!
The boring things: With all the fun and excitement of starting university also comes the slightly boring aspects... money, studying and health.
Budget yourself: When your student finance comes in, take off your accommodation and see whats left, if its nothing, then get yourself job hunting! If your one of the lucky ones with a few pennies spare then make sure you spread it out evenly across the 3 months each time. Blowing your loan on new clothes and then starving for 5 weeks is completely irresponsible and will not prepare you for the real world.
Manage your time: With assignments, sports practice, society meetings and house parties to attend it can all get a bit too much sometimes. Make sure to get yourself a diary or something to write your schedule in. Writing it all down will firstly make it a little bit more manageable and will allow you to prioritise your activities to ensure you don't miss that really important lecture on Thursday at 9am!
Eat well: I never understood those people who lived off pot noodles and take aways week after week. How did they afford it and how did they ever feel motivated? With such a busy schedule it's important to eat well and nutritiously! Now I'm not saying we all need to jump on the clean eating bandwagon and become vegans BUT just make sure you have a weekly shopping list and you always try to incorporate some fresh fruit and veg into your diet. It will help you keep up with everything, and stay motivated and focused during study periods.
These are all my personal recommendations and may not work for everyone because everyone is different, but I do hope that this may help a least one person out there! There is no right or wrong way to do university and everyones experience will be totally different but that's the beauty of it.
I would love to know about your university experiences, write me a comment letting me know if you went or not, why and any more recommendations you have. I'd love to hear what you think.
Lots of love, Elle xxx
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