First year at university is always going to be the hardest. Starting anything new is the worst part about stepping outside your comfort zone. That is probably why a lot of people don't go to university. Unknown, unfamiliar territory. Scary stuff no matter how confident you may be. First year may not be the hardest in terms of academics (although I strongly disagree with that!). You may even be lucky that your first year doesn't affect your final degree grade. Nevertheless I have learnt so much in first year, it's actually almost overwhelming. But like with anything in life, the more you're exposure to something, the more it becomes a habit, part of life and eventually second nature.
1) How to live with people
The best or worst part of university? Most definitely a massive learning experience. Everyone has a different experience when it comes to who they live with. You could end up meeting your life long friends, creating memories every night as you take 100s of pictures for the nightouts you have every week. Another reality is you could meet the complete opposite to yourselves. Whether you enjoy living with your housemates or not it does teach you about being understanding to those around you. I wouldn't say I enjoyed living with the people I lived with, although I was lucky that they weren't super untidy, rude or party animals trashing the house. But they just didn't gel with me. That's okay. I learnt through the year, do not force friendships that clearly are not right for you. A lot of people will feel the pressure to like their housemate as their best friends (when they're clearly not the right 'fit for them') because they're (to put nicely) convenient. Your housemates are right on your front doorstep (literally!) so it is easy to feel the need to be attached to them, but listen to yourself. If they aren't right for you, don't have the same interests, same personality/sense of humour etc. DO NOT FORCE IT! Being a good housemate first, before becoming friends with them can be much more important. A good housemate means learning about sharing space, understanding everyones habits and accepting everyone is different.
2) Who are you?
Yes. You may know exactly who you are. But as time goes on you may change. Accepting that you will be different person to when you started is good. If you were exactly the same person from the September you start to the June you finish- I think you have missed the point of university. Changing, growing and building the version that should reflect your 'hopefully' better self is what university should advocate more.
3) Prepare to be a clonee or cloner
Ironic that before I was saying you learn to become yourself, but whilst this is happening you will either be a clonee or the cloner. I'll explain further, as you meet new people every (as you'll learn) has different upbringings, diets, hobbies, fashion. As you build friendships, you will influence others and they influence you. I first saw this within my house. A group of girls within the flat got extremely close and when it came to making dinner one day one of the girls was making chicken nuggets (this was clearly something familiar within her diet). As the girls started to become more friendlier with each other they all started to share the same meals- even to the point the vegan of the house also brought 'chicken nuggets' merely to fit in within the new friendships. I personally have been both a clonee and a cloner. It is totally part of the whole university experience and certainly widens your culture and everyday living!
4) 'I don't belong here'
EVERYONE at some point during first year of university will end up saying this. I said this, but with the context due to my academic performance. During your first year (and mostly likely part of second and third year too) most lectuers will reel the same uninspiring speech 'you're at university, you should write like one'. Since you've just got to university it can feel incredibly daunting that you have NO IDEA HOW TO WRITE LIKE A UNIVERSITY STUDENT?!?!? (seriously the most belittling, annoying phrase you will hear repeatedly!). Your first essay will not reflect your best work, actually probably your first year won't. That's why first year is extremely important to not set yourself the high bar of perfection. Honestly, after getting over the disappointment of my first assignment (and saw the amount of work I needed to put in if I wanted to succeed) but it also showed that with 'university' attached to me, I now have a credibility, an added element of sophistication of knowledge and understanding that I can bring outside the lecture rooms. I found that inspiring. The quality of learning in the subject I am interested means I can now confidently have conversations with people and not feel unknowledgeable because of this high level learning (it is a degree your getting, don't forget that!).
5) Do you even ADULT?
A fear among many, yet you literally 'adult' everyday whilst at uni. Actually 'adulting' has been (for me) really fun and loved it so much- I'M NOT COMING HOME!* just for summer*. Being your own boss has given me the freedom to literally, live my life how I want to. I have relished in the opportunities from making mistakes (many in the kitchen!) but also catching the wrong bus, washing the wrong clothes together, burning food, time management failures. I made them and have fun from being 'responsible' adult. You don't learn if you don't make mistakes, adulting for me has been making those mistakes, but learning how I independence. deal with them. Not always having mom or dad to help me (but if in real doubt of course they're only a phone call if needed). Independence has made me, 'Martha'. Personally I don't want to change that anytime soon, university helped me enjoy that.
6) Opportunities come in all forms
University opens doors, of all forms. First year I wasn't sure what to expect. Having so much freedom to choose what you wanted to do means that taking opportunities comes frequently. Some things even come outside of university but were more possible because I was in Bath. I also learnt about having the confidence to take those opportunities (even if they weren't always right for me) I don't regret experiencing them. I was able to grow my blog through the connection of other bloggers, I was able to publish articles in the magazine for the university, I started a job that potential will give me skills for a long term prospects, I experienced societies of activities I've never considered before. University is far more than just the campus grounds.
7) Allow yourself to make mistakes
Don't be so hard on yourself for not getting everything perfect within the first week, month, term. This can be related to finding the right friends, societies, assignments, cooking, money management. A lot of people said before I went 'allow yourself time to adjust'. Adjusting to pretty much every aspect a person's life consists of. I often thought that a month would be long enough to start to get to grips with becoming a 'student'- YOU HAVEN'T EVEN STARED YET! Seriously, I think it has taken me the whole year to really balance life with uni, finding the friends that I connect with and finding a routine. It all takes time, I really learnt that patience with yourself is a very slow but worthy lesson.
Life is short- university is even shorter so enjoy every year with a different outlook from the last version of you.
Thanks for reading and let's smash second year!
Simply Martha x