I remember being eighteen and the thought of leaving home and moving to an unknown city giving me sleepless nights. Now, a recent graduate and I am starting university again, this time I have a hell of a lot more experience but of course going to a new city to start my masters is still causing me to feel slightly apprehensive. I thought I would write this post for those who are about to start university or can relate to moving away from home, in the hope that I can help make it a less stressful and more exciting experience for you. So here are a few of my tips and tricks.
Firstly, be prepared. There is nothing that personally causes me more stress and anxiety than not having everything ready and organised. This comes into all fields, but most importantly make sure you have done everything your university has asked you to do before you start. Be that online registration, preparing your student card or setting up your email address. The first day of uni is pretty hectic and dragging registration out by having to fill in forms or get your photo taken is less than ideal. Print off everything you need to, and its one less thing to worry about.
Visit the city you are moving to. I was lucky in this aspect as my family have been visiting Bath for years previous to me moving here, not to say that I knew the city like the back of my hand, but I knew where to get coffee and how to get to the cheapest supermarket. However this year I am going to the University of Bristol and despite living 15 minutes away I have never fully explored the city let alone been anywhere near the campus. If you can’t visit the city before you move, I suggest making a day of properly exploring as soon as you get there, this can be super fun if you go with someone who has also just started and get to know it together. I recruited one of my friends who lives in Bristol, and is also going to the university this year, to show me around. This was exceptionally helpful as she already knew where everything was and the best routes to get where you need to go which will save me a lot of time come next week when I enrol. Also print off a map of the campus (most likely available on your university website), so you have it to hand when you start, I have also taken a photo of this on my phone so as not to look like a complete newbie.
Read around your course. It is most likely that you have been provided a reading list longer than your arm prior to starting. Do not feel like a) you have to purchase all these books or b) you have to know them inside out and be able to recite passages from them. My advice is to only buy the books you will be reading throughout the course, these should be highlighted to you, and are usually textbooks of some kind. Get them as soon as possible and read as much as you can before you start. It will make you feel so much better if you have some idea of your modules content before you go to your first seminar. However if you are anything like me, I can read something and forget the whole thing a week later, especially if I am thinking about a million other things. So make notes and highlight important bits, this will save you reading the whole thing over and over again and also will make writing essays that bit quicker.
Say yes to Freshers’ Week. I know it isn’t everyones thing to go out and get drunk every night but you seriously do not have to do that. I would just go to as much as possible that first week as it it your best opportunity to meet the most people and experience the university as much as you can. It is where and when I made the friends I still have today. Saying this, don’t freak out if you don’t meet anyone you like straight away. There are so many opportunities to meet new people (on your course, in your accommodation, in societies etc). There are such a wide range of people at every university so it is guaranteed that you will meet someone you get on with. Enjoy having a week without any seminars, lectures or work!
Buy cute stationary. Even if your definition of cute isn’t the same as mine, having stationary and notebooks that you like will mean making notes and doing work that much more appealing. Paperchase is my go to. I usually buy two subject notebooks so that I don’t have to cart around five different books for each module. I use one for lectures and seminars and the other for assignments with a module for each section. You can personalise these by wrapping the cover in some nice paper of using stickers, or as I did using the front sleeve to add a personal touch of motivation.
Finally, put yourself out there. Speak to all different kinds of people, this isn’t high school where everyone is in there cliques. Plus everyone is in the same boat and no one knows anyone yet so get to know as many people as you can even if putting yourself out there seems daunting, you have nothing to loose.
I wish I could do my time at university all over again as it was honestly the best three years of my life and I know everyone says that but it really was. Now for me to follow my own advice and start it all again. Expect hard work, long nights and the best and worst of independent living, and good luck!
Now I will leave you with a few photos from my first week.
Any questions, comments or feedback are much appreciated,
Phoebe Francesca x