While September means the end of the year is nigh, for us students it brings many new beginnings. For lots of you it will be the start of a whole new chapter of your lives as you pack up your belongings and head off to pastures new ready to start university, and while that can be really exciting it can also be very daunting and even downright scary!
For me, leaving home was a huge step and one that terrified me. I had always lived in a tiny Welsh town where everyone knew everybody and I was surrounded by friends and family. I was the first person in my family (apart from my Dad) to actually go away for university so it was something completely new and I'd be lying if I said I found it easy. In fact, I really struggled and spent most of my first year crying and willing the time away so I could catch the first train home on a Friday after lectures. But the thing to remember is that I did make it through to my graduation, and will be heading back this weekend to start my masters, which is equally exciting and nerve wrecking!
That being said, I thought I would share some advice for anyone starting university this week as someone who has been through it all. These are the things I wish I had been told before heading off to university three years ago (I can't believe how quickly time has gone!), and if it helps just one person's experience then I will be a happy blogger! : )
1. Make the most of Fresher's Week - and I'm not just talking about the nightlife!
I'm not going to lie, Fresher's Week is crazy. There are so many parties, so many nights out and so many people to meet, but it's really exciting too! Make the most of this. Go out and meet people, go for (
a few too many) drinks with your flat mates, dress up like a superhero and wake up the next day with absolutely no recollection of what happened the night before; but also take the time to meet some of your class mates, go to your course induction and find out what books you need and whether you need to start reading, and go to the Fresher's Fayre and join different societies. Freshers is not just about getting bladdered, it's about starting the experience off with lots of opportunities and looking forward to the time ahead.
2. Do what makes YOU happy.
If the thought of a night out clubbing literally turns your stomach, then that's completely fine. Do whatever YOU want to do, not just in Fresher's Week but for the rest of the year too (and even the rest of your life!). One of my biggest regrets is not joining Cardiff University's Cheer Squad because one of my flat mates talked me out of it and one of my top pieces of advice is to not listen to those trying to put you down. If you want to have a night in watching Netflix, then go for it. Want to join a society that is a little wacky and weird? Then, why not? As long as you're happy and not hurting anyone else, that's all that matters.
3. Reach out to people.
Going into your first ever lecture and not knowing a person is the scariest thing, but everyone is in the same position. See someone looking in your direction with an anxious look on their face but too nervous to talk to them? Chances are they're feeling exactly the same, so reach out to them and, you never know, you may just make yourself a really fab friend. Everyone is nervous and everyone wants to meet people and make friends so make that move. You'll be so glad you did.
4. Join clubs and keep busy.
I think one of the things that made me so homesick was that I would spend a lot of time being bored. As someone who is alway super busy I hated how much time I spent holed up in my little uni room so I would definitely advise joining clubs or heading to the gym or library to keep occupied. Keeping your mind busy will help distract from any homesick feelings you have, and will keep you active too! Plus, joining clubs and doing activities will help you meet more people.
5. Everyone is in the same position.
This is so important to remember, but if you ever feel like you're all alone in this, then look around and remember that you're most definitely not. Everyone is going through their own little struggles and, despite their social media channels being full of "unnaaay" style photos, their probably missing their home comforts and their mam's good cooking just as much as you are!
6. Use the help offered by your lecturers.
More of an academic one but this is why we're at university after all, right? To ace those degrees and get a fabulous career while making some crazy memories along the way? But in order to achieve those top grades you will need a little guidance, and lecturers are more than happy to help. Speaking from experience, I found my grades really improved having chatted to and built relationships with my lecturers. I was too afraid to go and ask for help in the first year and a half of university, but then I made the most of the office hours that lecturers offered and e-mailed and asked for help when I was stuck. These people are experts in what they are teaching, so really make the most of that.
University is an incredible experience and one which will benefit you in so many ways - not just academically, but you will grow as a person and gain independence, memories and amazing friends along the way. Be strong and be confident, and embrace it all!
Good luck to everyone starting university this year!
If you ever need a chat, please feel free to tweet or e-mail me : )
Lots of love,