About 9 months ago an ecstatic human girl got onto a flight from Mumbai to London to attend university at Birmingham City University.
To be honest, I was not prepared.
I had previously taken a gap year but instead of doing things that might prepare me for the eventual leap into independence, I took an extended holiday.
So I arrived at university with no culinary skills, a shopping problem that didn’t make money managing easy, no stamina for work of any kind after lazing around for a year, and my generally awkward personality.
Things should have gone horribly wrong for me but instead I have ended up having the best year of my life. So much so that I actually feel like I can give other’s about to start their first year of university some kind of advice and it might actually be helpful.
- Say yes. The point of university is to gain life experience without being fully exposed to life (that terrifying part comes later). So when people ask you if you want to go out and do something, say yes even if your favourite TV show has just come out with a new episode, say yes even if it’s something you’re scared to try because that’s the point. (Of course I’m not advocating saying yes to naughty things- you know your boundaries.)
- Which brings me onto the next point: know your boundaries. There can be all kinds off pressures to do things that you may or may not be 100% comfortable with. With the new independence you have, it will be up to you to know how far you can go. Don’t ever feel pressured into doing something because the people you’re with are doing it. There are all kinds of people at university and you will find the right group of people for you.
- Next, be open-minded whenever you’re meeting new people. Whether you realise it or not, the people from the town/city you came from will have a lot in common. At university you get to meet a whole mixture of people. Talk to as many people as you can, find out as much about different kinds of lives. Not only is it endlessly interesting, you can learn so much from meeting a person completely unlike yourself.
- Let’s talk about actually university work shall we? It is a well-known fact that in England, your marks in the first year of university don’t count in your final marks for your degree. Still, I wouldn’t advise that you take this to mean that you don’t even need to try. The work you get in the first year is setting you up to handle the work you will get in the following years, so pay attention. If you don’t you might find yourself overwhelmed when it comes to the work that actually counts.
- And lastly, a personal regret of mine, take part in societies and activities. At the beginning of the year when the Fresher’s Fair happened I didn’t pay much attention to the activities offered at university, and I regret it now. Some of my friends who did join societies of different kinds made some really good friends through them and got to engage in a whole different aspect of student life. So find something you are interested in and see if there is a society for it offered at your new university and make sure you get involved.
- (I know I said lastly in the last one but just a quick one at the end: LEARN HOW TO COOK BECAUSE LIFE IS VERY EXPENSIVE IF YOU DON’T.)