I don’t know about you, but for me, the thought of going to university was the most exciting thing about being at secondary school- hearing about all the nights out, moving away from home, being independent and making new friends. This is why I loved every second of searching and applying for unis, all the days off school to attend the open days and then finally receiving my offers to study across the UK.
I’m currently a second year International Management and French student, and don’t get me wrong, I have loved my time at university so far, however there is one thing that became apparent to me shortly after moving away, and that was the fact that people seem to have left out the difficulty of adapting to your new life. For me, it wasn’t as simple as moving away and never looking back- I’ve experienced my fair share of struggles.
This is why I’ve decided to write a blog about my journey at university, and how I’ve finally been able to adapt and cope with the new student lifestyle.
My first year of uni feels like a little bit of a blurr now. I spent my time, as do the majority of freshers, trying to get used to everything- the independence, the deadlines, the cooking/cleaning, the new city, the budgeting and everything in-between.
Now that I’m 75% my way through second year, I’d like to think that I know a lot more than I did this time last year, and have managed to balance my life between every aspect. So I’ve put together a few tips on how to cope with the new changes, to make sure that you can do the same.
The dreaded deadlines. This had to be one of the biggest shocks to me. Even though you’re used to having work in school, the stress you experience is nothing in comparison to that you experience in uni. I know that this differs between unis, so I can only talk from personal experience. During my first year, some weeks I’d have three or four pieces of coursework to hand in within a week, and on a particular Monday during second semester, I had two presentations, a grammar exam and a piece of coursework to submit.
This doesn’t have to be as bad as it sounds. In order to ease the stress, change the deadlines. I find this the easiest way to prioritise work, as I can’t write two essays side by side, especially on two completely different topics.
For example, last semester, I had two essays due mid-November, so for one, I set the deadline in mid/end of October, the Friday before I was due to go to London to see my boyfriend, making sure that I still had four weeks to research and write the second one. This works well for me, as it means that you can still fit in time for your boy/girlfriend, friends or family during your most stressful periods. But you have to make sure you stick to it.
The top of every student’s shopping list should be the Palgrave Student Planner!!!!!! It’s everything you could want, AND MORE. It includes your usual days of the week, along with a section to schedule your meetings, a section to help you with your finances, some recipes, conversion tables, a section to help you keep track of the books you’ve taken out on loan, a section to put all of your deadlines and exams, and a section to keep track of your grades. This may sound a little boring to you, but in order to make the most out of your time at university, staying organised is essential.
Similarly, list pads are useful if you want to keep on top of your days. I fill mine in every Sunday evening to plan out my weeks, and then stick it to the wall above my desk so you can keep track of what you need to do, as well as see when you are free to plan something.
This can be tricky, as it is super easy to have a meltdown half way through the semester once the deadlines come pouring in and they start talking to you about exams.
Put up plenty of photos of friends/family, make a notice board of all your favourite memories, and create a calendar featuring every event you have to look forward (even the small ones), along with your deadlines. This helps to cancel out all of the negative aspects with things that make you happy& excited, along with motivating you to complete your work before your event.
At times, dropping out of uni seems like a tempting option; going home to your family, no stress of deadlines or exams. Bliss! right?
NO! You applied to university for a reason, whether it was to get a good job, to learn more about a subject you are passionate about, or to travel as part of your degree.. Keep that in mind! For me, my motivation was my year abroad in France- living in Paris, working for a marketing company, experiencing the French lifestyle, and putting the language that I’d spent the last nine years learning into practice.
To keep me motivated, I put photos of French cities, along with places I wanted to visit on the wall above my desk, so every time the going got tough, I could see exactly what I was working towards.
This may seem like a ridiculous idea, however now that I’ve secured my dream job, along with my dream uni, and the realisation has kicked in that I’m moving to Paris in exactly four months, I’m super grateful that I persevered.
In order to be as productive as possible, I’m the sort of person who has to keep busy. Sound like you? I’d recommend getting a part time job. I didn’t do this in first year, as I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I experienced a few weeks where I felt like I had foo much time on my hands. Getting a part time job, for me, has been one of the best things, as it allows you to earn some extra money, meet new people and to fill in your spare time. However, if I had one tip for you, it would be to make sure your employer is flexible and that you aren’t committing to work every friday and saturday, and during your university holidays. I work at the local rugby club, and it’s great! I can choose my hours, have time off if I have something on and can have four weeks off to spend Christmas at home, then come back as soon as I was ready.
I hope this blog has been helpful to all you current/ prospective students who are finding student life difficult. Make sure you keep yourself organised, positive, motivated and busy in order to make university an invaluable experience.