Currently at university? Attending university soon?..

Hello everyone. I am a recent graduate from The University of Huddersfield and I thought I’d share my experience of living the ‘uni lifestyle’ for three years away from home.

First Year

During my first year of university, I was expecting it to be somewhat like the films I watched on television. I thought I would arrive and I would see lots of students like myself moving into halls all chatty and over excited. I also expected there to be different groups scattered everywhere and that I would meet people straight away etc.

But it wasn’t exactly the same,  it was somewhat different. Yes there were lots of students like myself, but everyone seemed just as nervous as I was; there wasn’t any groups of any sort scattered about and I didn’t meet anyone straight away…not at my student accommodation anyway.

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However, in the end I ended up living with 5 lovely people. All of whom I’m really and truly happy I met.

So here it is, I believe your first year of university is the year to have fun. Having lots of fun but still having a balanced life, after all you’re at University to get a degree and to experience new things, so why do one and not the other? :). It is the year you need to relax and embrace everything around you, make a good expression academically and throughout your life outside university. It is important to make a good impression at university because the teachers you have in your first year, you might have in your second year, and I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want to be known throughout your second year as the student that attends classes once a week or the student that shows up to lessons drunk- As many psychologist would agree, “first impressions count”. I believe living in halls in your first year is also really important; Its where you are most likely to meet your ‘friends for life’.

It is also important you budget your money. Student loan doesn’t last forever so always make sure you budget. Its the little things that add up so it is important to be weary of how you’re spending. A great tip is buying dry and canned food in bulk as it works out cheaper and has a longer shelf life. While you do this, ensure you have a balanced diet as it keeps you healthy and helps to stimulate your brain.

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Some of the mistakes I made was taking my first year of university way too serious, I hardly went out and had fun and I was really stressed about my academic work but my biggest mistake yet was expecting everyone on my course to be super friendly, and when they weren’t, it really got to me during the first few weeks at university. I felt really lost. I therefore stress the importance of not expecting university life to be all ‘pink and glittery’ and to remember, it is not the same as school or college. However, three lovely students from my course came to my rescue who are now my friends, and I’m really happy I met them. I did met a few other people on my course, but when you’re used to knowing so many people at your college and school, you’re expecting it to be the same at university. My advise- don’t.

So here are what I believe are the Dos and Don’ts for the first year of university:

Do:

  • Turn up to lessons and take the information out of them.
  • Start all assignments and revision as soon as you get them.
  • Make a good first impression
  • Have a balanced life.
  • Budget your money.
  • Live in student accommodation (most likely the ones recommended by your university)
  • Have fun and embrace your surroundings

Don’t

  • Miss lessons while you are able attend- remember it’s only a few hours of your time and you’ll need all this information.
  • Over work. As long as you don’t leave assignments and revision last minute you won’t need to.
  • Over spend- yeah it’s okay to treat yourself now and again, but don’t treat yourself for everyone exam or assignment you pass, as if you ask me, it’s not really treating yourself is it? :).
  • Expect everyone to be friendly

 Second Year

By the time I got to my second year of university, I was ready to have fun after working so hard in my first year. BUT I got it all wrong, it should be the other way round, after all your second year is one of the most important years at university. Why? because it counts, counts to what? your final grade. It is the year to work really hard. So yup, I made the mistake of working too hard in my first year that when I got to my second year I already wanted a break (I didn’t dare take one though, I wanted to get my degree).

In your second year of university you may by then plan to live with all or some of your flatmates whom you met living in student accommodation. Majority of students ended up living in a shared house. Why? because it’s a sort of trend- first year you live in student halls, second year you live in a house, secondly, it’s a lot cheaper so you are able to save more, may I also state that student accommodations are expensive! However, there are several different factors I believe you may need to get ticked off if you decide want to live in a house with your flatmates l, especially if you’re a clean freak like I am or was. So here are what I believe to be the factors:

  •  Do your research, e.g. how far the nearest shop is.
  • View the house before you move in.
  • Ensure the house is safe and secure.
  • Ensure the distance between your house and university is one you are willing to undertake.
  • Ensure all bills are included.
  • Ensure there are enough cupboard, fridge and freezer space.
  • Ensure there is at least two bathrooms if you’re living with more than two people. (if not, you’ll probably find yourself waiting for the bathroom in a queue.

Again here are what I believe are the Dos and Don’ts for the second year of university:

Do:

  • Take your second year very serious.
  • Turn up to all your lessons and take the information out of them.
  • Start all assignments and revision as soon as you get them.
  • Continue to make a good ‘first impression’.
  • Have a balance life.
  • Prioritise what’s important and what’s least important- So going out the night before a lecture and getting pretty wasted would not be a very good idea. This is not to say don’t have fun, it is simple saying you have a lecture tomorrow and if you really need a night out, why not go but drink less. You have the weekend to get ‘wasted’ anyways 🙂
  • Budget your money
  • Decide where is better for you to live. Do you want to live in student accommodation again or do you want something different?
  • Have fun and embrace your surroundings.

Don’t:

  • Miss lessons while you are able attend- remember it’s only a few hours of your time and you’ll need all this information.
  • Don’t overwork. As long as you don’t leave assignments and revision last minute you won’t need to.
  • Over spend

Third Year

In my third year I decided I’ve had enough of living in accommodation and houses that was either too expensive, not thoroughly clean or too far from my university. I wanted to be some where different as that way, I know I will be super happy and can fully concentrate on my university work, after all I needed to, I have reached my final stage- I was in my third year of university.

So my flatmates and I searched and searched for an accommodation that would tick all the boxes for us. However, some of my flatmates and I all had different boxes to tick. One wanted to move home because it was cheaper and more chance of him being more focus on his university work, the other wasn’t sure what to do as he was in the process of searching for a placement which could be anywhere while my other flatmate and I wanted the same thing.. Sadly my flatmate and I with the same boxes to tick decided to continue our search and we came across a new accommodation that was still in the process of building, starts September and was only 20 minutes walk to the university. I say ‘only’ because it was completely new meaning we would be one of the first to live there, so everything else about it didn’t matter to me. My flatmate on the other hand, was just as fascinated as I was, even more that living there would mean we get free gym membership from the start date of our contract to the end. What else could we ask for? 🙂

We did all the boring paper work stuff and then it was all ours. We met four lovely students like our self, all of whom were our flatmates. Like my other flatmates, I’m really and truly happy I met them all :).

So here it, you want to ensure you live something very comfy, somewhere that tick all or most of the boxes for you. Doing so is very likely to make you feel focus and ready to show your final year who is boss!

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Your third year is the final step for you at university (If you’re on a three years course like I was).which means it is a really important year and there is no time to mess about.

This is the year I believe you should party less and focus more, less junk and more nutritious beneficial food, less late night and more early night, less time in front of the television and more time in the library, less of “I will start my revision and/or assignment later” and more of you starting it as soon as you can, and so forth.

The assignment most students, if not all battle with in their final year is dissertation. You’re dissertation is really important, for many different reasons which you’re university will make clear to you.

Here is a brief story of where I went wrong with my dissertation. I got told about my dissertation October. It was due April. I made a plan which included the amount of words I should write for each section and the time it should take me. Wrong Wrong Wrong. If you’re going to make a plan with so much specification, make it as soon as you’re told about it or as soon as you have access to information about what is required.

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Depending on your dissertation topic, I have a strong belief you can’t decide how many words you will write for each section and expect it to go as plan. I like making plans but sometimes it’s best to plan as you work along or make a plan with less specification.

My  plan however, was for a certain length of time and due to sections of my dissertation taking much longer than planned I was a bit behind which made me struggled a lot. It all got so stressful for me that I would find myself crying. I was working everyday, doing all nighters, hardly eating and when I’d read through my dissertation I felt like I was loosing it, I was tired of it and I need a break, a break away from it and all the other assignments. Even though experiencing lots of stress and anxiety, I didn’t give up, I kept going as I knew the end was near and I’m going to look back and smile at the thought I never gave up. So the message from this is start all assignments, revisions and dissertation as soon as you get them. Dissertations in specific takes a lot of research and you think doing research is as easy as ‘1, 2, 3’, I advise you to think again.

You will also find your deadlines are a lot closer to each other so you want to get cracking as soon as possible.

For my final paragraph, I just want to say attending university is a big step. Overall it is fun and there are so many new things you’ll experience and so many memories you will make. The post isn’t to define right from wrong, it is simple stating my believes and opinions and leaving a few tips and advices. It may or may not be helpful, which is understandable. I enjoyed my time at university and I’m glad I met the people I met. It was great experience and it has helped me in becoming who I am today as well as being independent. I do hope this post will be of some use to you. Good luck in your studies and your overall journey at university.

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