So it is that time of year where results are in and hundreds of thousands of teenagers across the country are ticking off the days until they move out of the humble parent abode and into the magical land of halls. When I first went to university I was not at all prepared for what it would entail. I mean, I had a duvet, pots and pans and a laptop (it was a big deal in my day) but I wasn't really prepared for the enormity of it all.
I was a shy little bean when I went to uni, like, silly shy. The idea of meeting new people and having to talk to them scared the life out of me. It made me feel physically sick and as if I would burst into tears at any moment. The first few weeks at uni were a scary experience and I wish I had had the advice and encouragement to enjoy the very first experience more and not be so worried or nervous. It took me at least a month to find my feet and pluck up the courage to really embrace student life, so I am writing this post for anybody who might be as nervous as my 18 year old self was in those first few instances.
1. It is so much easier to meet and keep contacts nowadays. Facebook and Twitter alike will have countless groups, pages and events for you to join, like and interact with. You can find out who is living in your halls, when they will be moving in (I was terrified of being the only one in my house) and what events everyone is talking about for Freshers Week. Hind sight is a wonderful thing and a heads up ain't too bad either.
2. Throw yourself into EVERYTHING. Accept every invitation that comes your way, say hello to everybody that you are introduced to. Swap numbers, go for coffee, lunch, beer, a double vodka, lemonade and lime or just an orange juice. Interact with everybody you know. These people will be your closest friends for the next 2/3/4 years and the better the friends you make now, chances are the better your time at uni will be. It's much harder to become part of a friendship group once the bond has been sealed.
3. Join a society. Take up something new or pursue an existing hobby. This is not only another chance for you to meet future friends but employees want to employ interesting people to work for them. If you have all the grades and experience you need on paper, this extra curricular activity might be just the thing that gives the edge over everybody else; it shows a commitment and ability to go that little bit farther, to do that little bit extra. And honestly just makes you a little more interesting.
4. If you need a job, try and get one with your student union. It is the best option for students. I have had friends weeping on Christmas day because the hotel they waitress at made them work Christmas Day or Boxing Day, meaning that either they were not home at all for Christmas or that celebrations were cut short in order to return to a lonely city miles away from home. An SU job means that chances are you work during term time and are then free to enjoy the holidays as you wish.
5. Go home once in a while. Don't be too keen to break ties with boring little ol' home now that you are an independent woman or man. You more than likely owe your folks everything for getting there and now that there is some distance, you may very well find that the heart does indeed grow fonder meaning relationships are better.
6. Keep in touch with your home friends during term time. Start a Facebook message with everyone included and update it every once in a while. It is so important to keep in touch with your old friends while building your uni life with your new found friendships. Reunions with friends from back home are always something to anticipate and welcome when those long holidays come and believe you me, you will all have some pretty special tales to tell!
7. Take photos. Take photos all the time, everywhere you go. You will want to look back one day and laugh and smile about every little memory even those that make you want to die a little inside. You will want to share your photos with the world and show everyone how wonderful university life it. It all goes so quickly, trust me, and you will want each and every moment documented.
8. Do not think that Freshers year 'means nothing'. For a lot of universities, the first year is like an induction into uni life; the grades do not count towards your final degree and therefore it is seen as a party year. Well, to a certain extent, it is just that! In my 2nd and 3rd year I wasn't able to go out nearly half as much as I did in my Freshers year. But make sure you get the grade you want at the end of your first year, it could very well set the tone for the rest of your degree; nobody likes playing catch up.
Most people are probably just as nervous about starting university as you are, so bear that in mind. It is a new way of learning, a new city and a new way of living. Leaving home for the first time is an exciting yet daunting step. Like I said, embrace it, say yes to every invitation (stay safe, of course), be inquisitive and interesting and soak up every second. Make friends and some of the best memories and I can assure you that everything falls into place eventually and becomes second nature. It will be incredible.