Everybody tells you that university is where you really grow up, where you find out what you like, who you like and what you want to do for the rest of your life. My first year at uni was a very eye-opening experience, as I think it is for most people and I thought I’d share with you a few things that first year taught me.
– First and foremost, how to keep myself alive. If you’re not used to cooking/cleaning/washing at home, having to do it all for yourself at uni is perhaps one of the biggest learning curves students come by. I personally never realised how much thought had to go into meal-planning, how often you need to clean the bathroom or how inconvenient washing really is! However, truth be known, these are definitely skills we ALL need in later life, so learning them before you hit your twenties is no bad thing!
– How to budget. I think every student realises in their first year – that living is expensive! You all of a sudden have to pay for things like food, transport and cleaning supplies – all things you just found in the cupboard at home! As your student loan only comes in at the start of every term, its very important to budget for the rest of the semester – nobody enjoys that “Mum, Dad, I’ve run out of money” call.
– How to manage my time. Although A-levels gives you a taste of this, you by no means have the kind of attention paid to you at university than you might’ve had from your teachers at school. University professors expect you to have your own initiative when it comes to doing your work, no ones going to tell you to do your reading or start your assignments, so it’s up to you to make sure you leave enough time to do it and stay on top of everything (something students often learn this the hard way).
– My limits. I mean this in many respects, not just my limit of alcohol consumption (which as I learnt, is very small). But more how hard I can push myself with work, with extra curricular and with my social life. It’s important to have a balance of everything, but to also make sure you aren’t spreading yourself too thin. Sometimes balancing uni work, societies, part-time work, seeing uni friends, seeing home friends, seeing family and whatever else – can just be too much. You shouldn’t overwhelm yourself, and simply keep a happy balance of everything.
– How important it is to get out. I found especially in my first year that I could get really down when I thought I had too much work to do, or I didn’t have enough money to go out and have fun. As important as doing your coursework and revision is, I think it’s just as important to keep your social life at a level you’re happy with – that’s why a lot of us came to uni, after all.
– How much I appreciate home. This was a big one for me. Growing up in the middle of nowhere in the Yorkshire Dales, I’d always been absolutely dying to get out and move away from what I thought was probably the most boring place in the entire world. But living in a city as big as London has made me realise how much I love and miss my little village in the countryside. I miss everyone knowing my name, taking the dog for a walk, my mum’s home cooked meals, my bed, a warm fire, sofas, having a TV. You don’t realise how great home is until you leave!
I think my first year taught me some pretty important life lessons, while undoubtably having one of the best years of my life. If you’re going into your first year this September or even just finishing it – I hope it was a good one!