Do’s and don’ts of starting university: from one fresher to the next

I can barely believe how fast the past year has flown by – it seems like just yesterday I was settling into my new Edinburgh home, saying tearful goodbyes to my family, being thrown together with a hotchpotch of new friends and navigating the intricacies of a whole new education system. I don’t quite feel old and responsible enough to be starting second year in a matter of weeks! Nevertheless, I do have some words of wisdom to share with those of you about to start your university journey…

Do try to get as involved as possible in freshers’ week. If you’re moving into halls, then great – you’ll already be provided with a group of people with whom you can go out and explore your new home. Admittedly, it will probably be drunken exploration, but if you’re not a regular party-goer, fear not! There are hundreds of events on in freshers’ week, meaning there really is something for everyone to get stuck into.

Don’t worry if you don’t necessarily get along with the people you hang around with in fresher’s week, as the chances are, you probably won’t see much of them afterwards. It’s a slightly different scenario if they live in your halls, but even some of the guys from my halls that I went out with during freshers’ didn’t get anything more than a vague smile of recognition for the rest of the year. The best friends you will make will be the ones who you have to go out of your way to find and with whom you share interests. Which leads me onto my next point…

Do join a society! In my experience, this is the best way to make friends – all my best friends at university are in the music society, and I feel blessed to have found them because they’ve always been there for me, not to mention that we have the greatest nights out! It can be awkward approaching new people when you know nothing about them, but at least a society means you have a common interest. Most societies involve teamwork of some kind as well – from singing the same part in a choir, to dancing in partners, to holding each others’ hair back after one too many glasses of cheap white wine (!) – so you’ll get to know people really well, very quickly.

Don’t leave the studying til last minute. Sorry to nag, but really, it’s wise to brush up on your notes little and often, rather than go to a lecture then forget about it until a matter of days before the exam. It’s stressful and your memory doesn’t work as well when put under pressure as well. I speak from experience. While I still passed (hooray for the 40% pass mark), I really wish I’d started earlier in the year. This year, I’m going to be more organised!

Do remember to register with a doctor. Most universities have a health centre, and it’s good idea to get in there and register within the first week to avoid disappointment – it really is first come, first served. Even if you’re a hardy type who never gets ill, I can guarantee that “freshers’ flu” (caused by the new environment and an influx of new people) will hit you at some point and if things really take a turn for the worse, it’s good to know you have somewhere to go. Starting university can also shake up your mental health – as I learnt the hard way – and if you start to feel like things aren’t going right, it’s crucial that you have a doctor on your side as your first port of call.

And finally…

Don’t forget to be yourself! Cheesy, I know, and I apologise, but this is really the best thing you can do. School can often inhibit your personality, but once you’re at university, nobody cares how weird and wonderful you are because there will almost always be some who is just that little bit more of an oddball! And you know what? Even that “oddball” can find friends for life and thrive. So just go for it and forget about those who held you back before!

Good luck!


4 thoughts on “Do’s and don’ts of starting university: from one fresher to the next

  1. I’m glad you put getting involved at the top of the list. It’s definitely a crucial part to enjoying your first (and following) year in college. Great advice. 🙂

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