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8 ways to Survive Your First Year at University By Joshua Okezikam

12:52:00 AM
Joshua Okezikam

If you are reading this, that means that you have been successful in gaining a place at university. Congratulations! University will be one of the most exciting times of your life, full of fun, friends and opportunities for socialization and self-development. Of course, while there is much of these things to be had, university is not without its stresses and annoyances that can be easily rectified (often after you're told!) Here are a few tips on little things that will help make that slightly daunting first year easier for you.

1. Socialize frequently.

One thing you will learn through university if you haven't already is that friends won't necessarily come looking for you. Engage with people, converse, ask questions. Do this within reason, of course. If you take an interest in people, people will take an interest in you. It is best to start this in Freshers' Week when everyone is in the same boat and is actively looking for people to be friends with and go out with.

2. Bond with your flatmates/Hostel Mates

 This doesn't mean you have to be best mates with them, but bear in mind that you are together almost 24/7 and share a kitchen/common wall. Being on bad terms with flatmates brings your whole flat down, so do your best, even if you're not that fond of them, to include yourself and them in activities such as going out, shopping, going to the gym, etc. There will be times when you will be angry at one flatmates for leaving your milk out, or another for not washing up your bowl they just used, but being in their good books can prove beneficial.

3. Don't let going out consume you or your money. 

You're a university student, of course you want to go out! But bear in mind that finances are a factor, and the bars won't disappear. As cheap as drinks in student cities might seem, all of these purchases add up and you risk racking up a debt, or perhaps not being able to afford those necessary purchases such as food and paying bills. Drinking may be a well-known student activity, but be aware of others available to you, such as the gym, societies, and club meetings.

4. Lock your food and utensils away.

 This may seem a bit extreme, but in my experience, it's for the best. Just remember that most of the time your flatmates won't take your food maliciously, it will most likely be that they've just run out of milk for their tea and decide to pop a bit of yours in, or someone came home very hungover and spotted your mum's delicious lasagna unguarded in the fridge. In a lot of universities they've anticipated this problem and cupboards come with holes for locks on the doors. By locking your food and utensils away, you save food, money, time, energy, and washing-up.

5. Develop a sensible coping strategy. 
Most people that are about to go to University fall into three categories: 1) they can't wait to get away from their parents, 2) they're dreading the day they leave the comfort of their own home, and 3) nervous but excited. All of these are perfectly normal and acceptable feelings. Chances are that you will from time-to-time become homesick, especially if something negative happens, such as stress from too much work, a falling-out with a friend, or worries over money. Remember that your parents will be thinking about you as well, and will be more than happy to talk to you should need any help or advice. Some may find phoning/visiting home regularly more therapeutic in helping them cope away from home, whereas others may find limited contact stops them from feeling homesick. Formulate a sensible strategy that suits you and helps you stay productive and happy. Most of all, make sure to keep yourself occupied.

6. Don't leave all your work until the last minute. 

This may seem very tempting seeing as you will have longer deadlines, sometimes a couple of months at a time, and longer holidays (again sometimes months at a time), but the deadline will soon creep up on you. A very useful strategy, albeit a slightly boring one, is to get your work done as soon as you get it, or as soon as possible afterwards; this way, your note are still fresh in your mind and you will have more time for play after finishing work, and will not have that niggling thought in the back of your head about that essay you really should have started a week ago.

7. Don't turn nocturnal.

This is also very tempting seeing as you won't have a parent nagging you to go to bed at a reasonable hour. By all means you should set your own bedtime, but getting to the stage where you are going to sleep at 6am and waking up at 4pm is getting a bit too ridiculous. University is fun but difficult; give your body the rest it needs and the rest will follow.

Don't be afraid to bring up an issue or ask for help.

University is different in very many ways to school and college. The learning styles are different, the work is harder and you are expected to handle your own learning. In fact, you learn independently a lot more than being lecturer-led. Lecturers will understand that adjusting to things like this take time and patience - so if you don't understand something, ask them. It won't make you look stupid or like you weren't listening - in fact, you'll be the smarter one for making sure you know exactly what's expected of you and how to do it than your classmate who decided to fall asleep during said lecture and not follow it up.

Written By 

Joshua Okezikam, the author of Becoming an Ultimate student

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