Hello everybody and happy Monday!
This is the first blog of September, meaning university is only around the corner for a large number of you... how exhilarating!
A staggering 592,290 applications were submitted to UCAS before the January deadline earlier this year according to the Telegraph, with the number of 18-year-old's applying being the highest it has ever been. So a colossal accolade is in order for those of you who got the results you were hoping for and are going to continue your higher education journey and a welcome back to those who are returning for another year of arrant madness! However this also means a lot of young and vulnerable people in an unfamiliar place with numerous strangers and plenty of alcohol. So be safe kids and keep your wits about you.
This blog is all about my top tips for first time university students, my experience as a fresher and the all important freshers survival guide.
I went from drinking alcohol one to twice a month in my home town to once to twice a week at university and it definitely had a huge impact on my body. However since my first year I have bounced back a lot leaner, fitter and stronger and do not regret the little damage a few (bit of an understatement) nights out with friends did to my figure. My hard work in the kitchen and the gym has helped to get my body back to an even better state than it was before and I aim to continue doing so throughout my second year. I plan to work harder and stronger towards these goals now that my year as a fresher is done and I can begin to relax a little on the drinking side.
Note that I never drank excessive amounts often anyway as I am far too weak to handle too much alcohol in an evening let alone manage a hangover the next day. For me personally now that I am going into my second year of studying I simply do not have the time to waste a day nursing a hangover after a night out. I only did this twice during my first year and I hate being so unproductive and unwell when I would rather be down the gym or in the library.
Last year I became the first in my family to go to university and it was like entering a whole new fantasy world. I adore university so much, I wish I was there all year round and I could not recommend it enough.
Make the most of it
So my first tip to all new students is to make the most of every possible experience. I have done so many things because of university that have helped me grow as a person, make my career and personal goals more vivid. They have enlightened, educated, intrigued and excited me that I could not possibly imagine my life without having gone to university. It is only three years of your life and I advise you to live it to the fullest, work to your best ability, throw yourself into everything, education and activity wise because it is not often that you will get the chance to try everything that university offers again. I did this quite literally by inquiring whether I could study two degrees at the same time (unfortunately not a possibility).
Be money savvy
My second tip is to save, save, save over the summer. I barely had a summer during 2015 as all I was concerned about was having enough money to sustain me. I had heard from many students that your loan/ grant are not enough to cover your rent and living situation. So I spent my summer working full time at Tesco on early shifts starting at 6am, switching departments half way through the day and working until late afternoon, going home to bed to come back in at 10pm for a night shift and so on.
I ended up going to university feeling comfortable that I had enough money to support myself for the rest of the year and it was such a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. I strongly advise that you do not stress about money for university as in my experience it was not true what others said about my loan/ grant not covering my living costs. It also helped that Coventry is a relatively cheap place to live and that I saved a lot before hand but all I would say, is be sensible with your money and don't live beyond your means just to impress others, only to end up living like a pauper for the rest of your time there.
Budget yourself and plan when you intend to go out and do things in advance so you know that you will need money for certain dates and you can put it by. Never ever take your card out. I never have and I never will because when you are drunk you will just want to carry on drinking and not only your head but your bank balance will be feeling the consequences in the morning.
Make sure it is what you want
University is a large portion of your life so being absolutely certain it is what you want is key. Make sure that you have fully read everything that is available to you about your chosen course, your module guide and the way you will be taught and assessed before going to avoid any surprises or regret.
Ensure that you have been to every open day and applicant day etc to get a feel for your new home and imagine how you will settle in. Choosing your university is obviously all about the course but if you do not feel happy with the environment this can impact how you get on with living and studying there. It works the same the other way around, there is no point in choosing to do your course somewhere just because your prefer the surroundings. Put your course first and choose the university that offers you the most for this. I am still over the moon with the choice I made and I love my course, the way I am taught, what I am taught, how I am assessed and the modules I learn.
Get a job
I have a lot of friends who do not work at university and have managed just fine without but in my opinion I advise getting a small part time job for some extra money. I love to work and managed to get myself a job before I moved to uni so that I could start straight away which was great and also another thing that I did not need to worry about.
A part time job working weekends is something easy to take up some free time, get to know more people, your area and gain you a little bit of extra cash. It is not a lot to commit to and it helped me to have a constant income during studying and avoid boredom. Something close by to your accommodation is best during your first year as you are not familiar with your surroundings yet. I was lucky to get a job across the road from me during my first year so the 7am starts weren't so bad!
Freshers fair is great fun, you go with your flat mates to your main social area which will hold the freshers fair for sports and activities sign up and general information before the hard work actually starts. This is your chance to sign up to as many things possible even if you do not take them all on. Try new things and meet new people in the process.
I signed up to try a number of things including Lacrosse and Cheerleading and eventually chose to take up Hockey, which I have never done before and Street Dance which I used to love back home and learn a language which I regret not doing during my GCSE's. It feels bizarre how I have managed to fit it all in and I intend on trying even more activities during my second year, even if it only means going to try out sessions because I can't fit them all in my timetable, at least I will have experienced it. This is possibly the easiest way to meet a variety of people who share the same interests as you so go to university open to a number of new things!
So here it comes, freshers week.
The ultimate week of chaos where all the new students gather every night for one week to the top clubs around university for themed nights and live acts.
In my experience I did not enjoy freshers week very much. It didn't live up to my expectations so I only went out once because I wanted to see Krept and Konan (who were insane!) However I am not here to moan about my time during freshers, I don't regret not going out so there is nothing to complain about, it just wasn't my scene. I am here to give you the best possible advice so that you can go out and enjoy freshers week, nurse your hangovers and stay fit and healthy in the process.
Drink plenty of water. You will be having alcohol constantly during this week so give your body some time to recover during the day with at least 2 litres of water.
Stick with your pals. Make sure you have got everyone you came out with before going back home, walking by yourself when you're not sure of the area or people around you can be risky. The same goes for in the club, don't leave someone behind, being drunk and alone does not go down well!
Hangovers. You are bound to have them during this week so wake up in the morning not the afternoon (you will feel worse) and drink two glasses of water with two paracetamol, make yourself a green tea and eat something. My go to hangover food is a strawberry milkshake and McDonalds chips, cheese and coleslaw on toast or homemade pasta, something full of carbs always works which is why the average fresher gains 14lbs according to the Daily Mail because of all the alcohol, food on a night out and comfort food the day after. Hence why I refuse to do it often! Then go get some fresh air, whether that be a walk to the shop, a light gentle jog or popping over to see a friend and nurse your hangover as a pair.
Make friends. As important as it is to make friends during freshers week, don't be surprised if you never see them again. I met so many people during freshers week that I have not seen or spoken to since then and that is just how it works. Automatically when you first arrive you will speak to so many people and as it always does when time goes on, you get to know people properly and form proper friendships. I am very lucky to get along and be friends with the majority of people on my course, who are all so sociable and friendly that you walk into a lecture and say hello to a number of rows and groups of people, it is such a fantastic atmosphere to be around.
I also have the privilege of having a huge group of friends outside of my course because I am part of a sports team. I will never forget the end of try outs where we were all told to come out the following Wednesday night for "Sport Social". Myself and two lovely girls I met that day (who are still close friends of mine now) went together and met everyone for pre-drinks. The entire club made every feel so welcome I had the best time ever and I still do with this group of people. This is the reason why I recommend so many people to sign up to a sport or activity during University because there really is no bond like a team.
It truly is wonderful how many people you meet at university and how many people you still continue to meet towards the end of the year. Sometimes it can be a shame that you meet such a lovely person who you connect with right at the end of your year. I definitely did and I regret not knowing them sooner than right before breaking up for the summer!
Again have an amazing time at university, take on board what has been mentioned in this blog and get ready for the time of your life.
Until next time,
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