First year's at university looking at a laptop

August 30, 2022, by Lucy Cooper

What I wish I knew as a first year

I remember moving into university on a drizzly morning in September 2019. I was extremely nervous about the first year experience (very excited too), but I needn’t have worried. Three years later I’m now looking forward to returning to university to start my fourth year, after my third year abroad. After three years of being a university student (albeit one of them spent in two foreign countries), I’ve gathered some things that would have helped my first year self.

Don’t be scared of change

Change is normal, although daunting. When you move to university, your surroundings and routine will change, but also your mindset. It’s completely normal – you’re in a new environment and you will develop a new routine and behaviours to go with that. One of the most challenging (but also the best) parts of university is that you are forced to spend time with people who have grown up with a completely different lifestyle and ideas to you. You might like what they do, you might not – you might even change your mind about them halfway through the year. You might find yourself choosing to live like them! Change will happen naturally without you noticing it. And most people will return home after their first year feeling very different to how they left.

Everyone is more worried about themselves than they are about you

Everyone at university has a lot on their plate – and as a student you have to balance a lot of plates. Everyone else worries about and stresses about themselves more than they do about you. That’s not to say they don’t care about you – fellow students understand what you are going through and are great givers of support – but you shouldn’t be afraid of judgement from others. They most likely haven’t noticed.

Prepare to stick to a budget

It’s all very well making a budget – but sticking to it is another ballgame. Socialising is expensive and you will find that you have friends that have a range of different budgets. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to cut down on the fun – you just need to be creative, and stay informed about the more economic options available to you (think student discounts, etc!). Allow yourself to spend more money in your first month (if you can) – you’re learning. Once you’ve found your feet you can build your routine around your budget.

Prepare to make mistakes

You won’t just learn more about your subject at uni – but also how to live as a (semi-functioning) adult. You will inevitably make mistakes – whether that be in the kitchen or in essays – but that’s the best way to learn!


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