The Nine Stages of First-Year University Life
24 July 2018
It’s difficult to sum up what the first year of university is like. Exciting, challenging, life-affirming, demanding; they don’t really do it justice. Add to that the fact that everyone’s first year is a little different, and there’s little point trying to put into words the highs and lows of uni life – you just have to show up and experience it for yourself.
But, whilst every student will have different experiences throughout their first year and full tenure at
Arriving at University
As results day passes, acceptance letters ripped opened and the summer draws to a heady conclusion – the reality of moving away from the parents and enrolling at university really sets in.
Moving Day Dread
Freshers’ Week Optimism
Of all the weeks in your first year, freshers’ will probably be the most demanding, both mentally and physically. Endless socialising, late nights and copious amounts of booze can leave you feeling like a shell of your former self, but remember that it’s fine to say ‘no’ to back-to-back late nighters. Oh, and be sure to budget accordingly, otherwise, you’ll be lucky to make your loan last ‘til the right side of Halloween.
And Freshers’ Fair Freebies
Of course, freshers’ week isn’t all nightlife. There’s also the chance to head down to the campus freshers’ fair and get your mitts on a shedload of freebies, from pens and stationery to food and drink. Freshers’ fair is also the place where you can join clubs and societies, and expand your capacity for socialising.
Amidst the excitement of moving away to university, meeting new friends and sampling independent living – it almost comes as a shock when you’re expected to attend lectures and learn things!
The Horror of 9am Lectures
9am might sound reasonable, but for a student, it’s ungodly. Even if all you did the night before is stay in and binge Netflix, there’s something innately dreadful about early morning lectures that will make you want to stay in bed. Perhaps it’s the fact that it feels a little too much like real life, and all the responsibilities it brings with it.
Discovering the Reading list
We’re a long way from AS Level English Lit now, when the reading list was a Shakespeare play, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, The Great Gatsby and an introduction to Carol Ann Duffy. The reading list for most first-year students looks like a library’s stocklist – and that’s just for term one! Better get to the library quick, otherwise all the reading list copies will have been scooped up and a trip to the off-campus bookshop is your only choice. And yes, you’re expected to read these academic texts!
Getting Your First Assignment
After all the tomfoolery of freshers’ week, friend-making and dossing about decorating your digs, you may feel like laughing in your tutor’s face when they give you an actual assignment with an actual deadline. From here on out, playtime’s over kids. Well, not really, but it is time to put your library card to use and settle in for some study time.
Becoming a Real-Life Adult
Many students learn more outside of the lecture hall than within its studious walls. First year is a time to learn important life skills and, basically, become a functional adult human (or getting close, at least).
Expanding Your Culinary Repertoire
Cooking can be an enigma for ill-prepared students whose mums failed to teach them the basics in the kitchen. Indeed, even food shopping can be a challenge, with first-years prone to skipping fresh in favour of frozen. But to the uninitiated we say, be bold in the kitchen and let your creativity flow – you might just find a new hobby.
When Your Finances Take a Turn
As term drags on and the number of £50+ nights out you’ve been on goes into double figures, it’s easy to start panicking about your finances. While it’s a little boring, budgeting really is the trick to a relaxed and stress-free first year, and is probably one of the biggest lessons you’ll learn throughout your first term.
When Exam Season is Approaching
Even when you know they’re coming, exams can be a nasty surprise lurking on the horizon. It’s easy to put off studying as a student, with 1001 distractions and better things to do keeping you from hitting the books. It’s even harder without mum and dad around to constantly remind you to get to studying – but hit the books you must.
And then before you know it, exams will be over and you’ll be heading off for the summer – either back home or on your travels, getting refreshed for second year. When the real work truly begins!
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