Make the most of your first year

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Jenna Burton

by Jenna Burton

Everyone’s university experience is entirely unique, and so it’s difficult to give general advice that will benefit everyone. But here are a few things my first year taught me that might just come in handy for you too.

Ask for help – Don’t be too proud to ask for someone else’s help, whether it’s from a Lecturer, another member of staff or a fellow student. It is nothing to be ashamed of if you’re struggling. Every student struggles. What makes sense to someone else straight away may not mean anything to you and vice-versa will apply to different topics. It’s very easy to feel alone, especially when you’re one of the crowd in a lecture theatre. It’s very easy to feel like you’re the only one that things just aren’t getting through to. But more often than not, there are others who feel exactly the same, except they’re trying to hide it too. Ask for help straight away, at the end of that lecture or that same day. Don’t leave the misunderstanding under the carpet, because when it’s hidden it can accumulate. However, this point does not just apply academically, it applies to general life. Whatever it is that you’re struggling with, there is always somebody who will be able to help you, no matter what. They might not be able to solve your problem, which is often the case with the most bitter of life’s lemons, but they can certainly help you manage it. If you spot something in a friend that you admire, or something you notice is making their life easier, then ask them to share it with you. Not only will it help you, but it also makes the other person feel good if they can help someone out in their own way.

Be an adult when you need to be – As boring as this bit might sound, uni is part of growing up. There’ll be a lot of situations, many of them completely new to you, where you’ll be faced with a decision. Whether that’s at a party, on a night out, or when you’re in Morrisons doing your food shopping (other supermarkets are available). Take your time to think about what the right thing to do is in that moment, bearing in mind that the right course of action is not always the one that most appeals to you. Maybe you really do not want to skip the alcohol from your shopping list but it might be the right thing to do that day if taking it off the shelves is going to break your bank account. On a more serious note, sometimes your safety and the safety of your friends will be in question and it might be left up to you to do what you know is right.

Surround yourself with people who work hard – Find friends that care about their course. Those that truly want to be here are the ones that will get you through when you need them most of all. The people who take their studies seriously are usually the ones that take other things in life seriously, and that’s a very important quality to have from a friend. Look out for these people and aspire to be like them. Never feel intimidated by someone’s intelligence or the degree to which their life seems to be more on track than yours. If you surround yourself with people who work hard, they will raise you up with them.

Do what works for you – There are times when you must forsake everyone else and do your own thing. It’s important to find the balance between being respectful and tolerable of others but also looking out for your best interests. If you aren’t looking after yourself then you certainly aren’t doing anyone else any favours either. Don’t be too eager to please everyone, be yourself and do what you need to do in order to feel peaceful. The real friends will stick around, and the rest are those that were never going to anyway.

Get Involved – ‘Comfort zones are beautiful places but nothing ever grows there.’ This is one of my favourite quotes because of how true it is. Make sure you try new things, push yourself and place yourself in situations you might not usually be comfortable with. Face your fears. Uni is the place to do that, there’s no judgement here and, just so you know, being ‘popular’ is not a thing. Everyone can find the right place, the right people and the right activities for them at university. Enjoy your first year, make some awesome memories and remember to do these five things, if nothing else :).