University can equally be one of the best and worst experiences of your life, depending on what you make of it. It’s all fun and games at first, joining a society, going out to the clubs and getting so drunk you don’t remember where you live the next morning.
But no-one prepares you for the challenging parts of university life, like settling in to your new accommodation and trying to adjust to not having mum around to cook your meals for you and even putting on 10lbs within the first week of freshers because you’re living off oven pizzas and junk food.
Getting up and making it on time for your 9am and keeping up a good attendance. Or at least you try to. All of that, plus the stress that university causes overall can really take a toll on one‘s mental health.
Don’t leave all of your assignments till the last minute
You’ve probably heard this one before, but I cannot stress this enough. Leaving your assignments to the last minute and putting them off is not going to help with anything, except cause unnecessary stress, that could’ve been prevented. Instead of looking at the work you have to do as a whole, try breaking it down into pieces as trying to tackle everything all in one go can be extremely disheartening and overwhelming.
Essays aren’t fun to write, but they have to be done. Make a habit of planning everything out, including what time you’re going to dedicate to working on your assignment each day, what points you’re going to make, what references you’re going to use etc. There’s obviously no correct way go about writing an essay, but these points can help prevent a dreaded all-nighter 12 hours before the due date.
Don’t forget what you’re there for
When you first get to uni, and you’re surrounded by brand new people, a new environment, and there are a lot of different activities to do and adventures to be had. It’s so easy to lose sight of the main reason you’ve decided to go to university. The degree. Yes, by all means enjoy the experiences university has to offer but never forget the main reason. Think of the journey it took to get where you are and how you deserve to be there just as much as anyone else.
Join a society
Whether or not you’re a sporty person, a creative, a gamer, or you just like to party, there is most definitely a society out there for you. Joining a society not only allows you to meet people with similar interests as you, but also creates opportunities to put yourself out there. By becoming a part of the societies committee, it will look amazing on you CV and open up a vast range of opportunities which will help you in the long run.
Learn how to budget
It’s so easy to get overly excited when that student finance money appears in your account, that you end up going on a spending spree and end up with close to nothing in your account within the first few weeks. I’ve been there, I’ve done that. But learning how to budget unfortunately doesn’t get taught in schools, that’s something you have to learn for yourself, later on in life. University is the perfect opportunity to learn how to budget, especially when you’re living by yourself.
You take into consideration how many things you actually have to do for yourself, including buy and cook your own meals, pay your own rent, buy your own books for classes. And whether or not you have any disposable income, it is still important to learn how to spend efficiently and not over indulge. Look out for sales, the reduced section in your local supermarket is your best friend. Invest in websites that are designed to help students save money, such as UniDays, Student Beans, and many more.
Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your tutors and lecturers when it comes to assignments, they are there to help. It’s better to ask for help than not know what it is that you need to do and jeopardise your grade in an important piece of work. Prioritise yourself and your education and don’t be afraid to ask a question that you might consider ‘dumb’ because your grade is important.
Look out for your health
Whenever you go to uni, especially if you go to live away from home, there’s something that will happen without a doubt within the first few weeks. You will get ill. A little bit more than a common cold, but a ‘Freshers flu’ so they like to call it. With all the new people that you meet from all different parts of the country, it’s no surprise that freshers’ flu is a thing. All different kinds of germs from different people mixing together in one environment is a recipe for a week in bed surrounded by a sea of half used tissues.
No one wants this, so in order to prevent this, make sure you’re getting your daily dose of vitamins and minerals, which means eating vegetables and skipping out on that trip to the local spoons for ‘a few’. Looking out for your health also includes maintaining a healthy sleeping pattern. Of course, there will be nights where you may go on a night out and not get to sleep until four am. However, don’t make a habit of it, a messed up sleeping pattern is enough to drive anyone to insanity.
Don’t suffer in silence
This is probably the most important point on the list. Being away from home and going into a new environment can feel very isolating and can certainly do a lot for your emotional wellbeing and mental health. Whilst everything can be overwhelming, trying to make new friends and stay on top of work and take care of yourself, it is important to understand that there is always someone out there that you can talk to.
If the struggles of uni aren’t taking a toll on you make sure you also check up on your friends. There is some tale tell signs that someone is going through a hard time, such as: if they are isolating themselves from the outside world, skipping lectures, not taking care of themselves the best they can etc. Let them know that you are there for them. And if you are suffering, speak to your lecturer about who at the uni you can speak to about your mental health.
Overall, stay grounded, eat vegetables, complete assignments on time and most of all, have fun. University (for most people) is a once in a life time opportunity, a space for you to find yourself. That transition from childhood to adulthood, becoming an independent person in society. So enjoy it.