First years are inundated with advice on How to Survive Fresher’s, but no one really tells us what we’re supposed to do after. Here’s how to overcome the problems you face throughout your first year, not just in your first week…
Congratulations! You survived your first semester at Uni! It’s smooth sailing from here, right? You made it through the homesickness, your first round of deadlines and fresher’s flu… so surely the rest should seem easy by comparison? Sadly, that’s probably not going to be the case. I don’t know about you, but my first semester at University passed in a blur. I barely had time to catch my breath, much less settle down properly. Now that everything’s slowed down, I might be able to find my way to my seminars on time, but I’ve definitely not quite gotten the hang of things just yet.
As first years, we’re inundated with advice on ‘What to take to University’ and ‘How to survive Fresher’s Week,’ but no one really tells us what we’re supposed to do after. First year problems don’t end after the first week. Here’s all the problems that followed me well into my first and second semester… and how I fix them.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say I’m probably not the only one who had this problem. After getting to the end of my first month at Uni and realising I’d used up my entire first loan instalment buying Starbucks every morning and Skittle Bombs every night, I knew something had to be done. You can read all the advice in the world about what to do when you cleared out your loan, but the bottom line is that you just have to learn to be sensible. Yes, getting a part time job is probably a good idea, but it won’t work if you keep up the same habits.
As much as it pains me to say it, when my friends ask if I want to order Chinese, I no longer automatically say yes- and buying a travel mug is one of the best investments I’ll ever make.
I think we’re all in the same boat here. No one wants to say it, but everyone’s felt lonely at some point. You can have made friends with every single person you met during Fresher’s and at some point you’ll still have found yourself sat in your room, alone and with the door shut. It’s not the end of the world. It happens. Some peace and quiet can actually be great. But loneliness can really start to set in when the studies kick in. It’s winter, it’s cold and dark, and no one really wants to go out. It’s very easy to feel like you don’t spend as much time with your friends as you used to. The good news, however, is that it’s easily solved.
As I said before, everyone feels the same. When you find yourself alone, get up and knock on your flatmate’s door. Even if it’s only a five minute chat, it’ll make you feel better. And they’ll probably be grateful for it, too.
Okay, so this one’s pretty obvious. Work isn’t exclusive to first year problems. But now first semester is out of the way, all the techniques our lecturers used to ‘break us in gently’ seem to have disappeared. No more “Don’t worry, it’s your first time, we won’t mark you too harshly.” Now we’re expected to be actual degree students. Scary, right? Yes. But it doesn’t have to be unmanageable. The key to coping with second semester work is getting ahead. I’m as guilty as anyone. I got through my whole first semester of a literature degree without getting to the end of one book. But obviously, this isn’t wise.
Doing all your reading ahead of time, keeping a note of assignments, and actually going to your lectures (yes, even the non- compulsory ones) is the best way to make sure you’re keeping on top of things.
4. Self Care
Ask yourself when you last got a full eight hours sleep. It’s probably been a while. Coping with work, relationships and all the other stresses of University life means we often miss out on just taking a minute for ourselves. We get so caught up in trying to save money and spend time with friends and do all our work that sometimes it’s hard to remember that we’re only human. But for the sake of your mental health, it’s vital that you do.
Self care isn’t just hot baths and meditation (though I really do recommend it). Sometimes it’s getting a good night’s sleep, taking a break from your work to get some exercise or just doing whatever it is that gives you chance to breathe. Looking after yourself is the key to surviving all of your first year problems- so don’t neglect it.