Having just finished my first year at Plymouth, and seeing lots of new freshers around, I thought I would think back to last year and offer some advice…
1. Say yes as much as possible.
University is probably the best opportunity you will get to meet new and like-minded people, join endless societies and try things you have never done before. It’s a chance to have lots of fun (and gain a degree of course) before you enter the world of working. You want to be able to look back at your experience and think, I did everything I could have done and had an amazing time. So do it!
2. It’s OK to miss home.
I missed home quite a lot in my first year, and looking back I realise that this is a really normal and an expected thing to feel. Living about 5/6 hours from home, it was inevitable, but what really helped was arranging weekly times to Skype my family and friends. You’ll look forward to telling them all the amazing things that you’ve been getting up to, and if you have friends at other universities, you can all talk about your funny experiences. Please realise that it is ok to not be ok, and of course at that start of university it is normal to want to talk to your family. Remember, there is always someone you can talk to, whether they are at home or in the room next to you! Everyone feels homesick at times, you are not alone.
3. Balancing work and having a social life.
There will be people that go out every night, and still do very well in their course. If you are one of those people, I’m very envious! For me, I did all the university work I needed to in the daytime, and then went out to relax and unwind. Whether this was going ‘out out’, or maybe just for a coffee with your friends, make sure you balance the two.
4. Making good friends takes time.
I remember my brother telling me that making good, valuable friends takes time, and your friends will change and that’s OK. By spending a lot of time with people at university, you’ll find people that you click with straight away, and as you find out more about them, you realise how similar you are. You’ll also meet people that you just naturally would not get on with, and that’s OK too. I personally prefer having fewer friends that I know very well, and can tell anything to, rather than lots of friends that I barely know. Everyone’s different, but that’s how I like to look at it.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff
I was quite an anxious person before I came to University, and being thrown into a random flat with strangers worried me. But going to Plymouth University has helped me come out of my shell, which is something my friends have noticed since my first year. My confidence has grown so much, and I find it so much easier to talk to people now than I used to. I’ve done some things that I never could have even imagined doing before. For example, in April I talked at a conference in front of quite a lot of lecturers and students, from all 3 years of my course, about my work. Don’t get me wrong, I was very nervous! But once I had done it, the feeling was like no other. I achieved something huge for myself and it made me realise how far I had come as a person.
So if you’re in your first year and are reading this worrying about the same things that I was, you have nothing to worry about. I guarantee that everyone is in the same boat and thinking the exact same things. University is not forever, so treasure every moment because it flies by!