Student Blog: things I Wish I knew as a fresher

Written by Ioana Pintilie, Final Year Psychology Student and Careers Service Student Blogger

As a recent graduate, I entered an odd, introspective adjustment phase, due to not having to expect school or uni to start in September. Before it’s time to embrace adulthood for real (no, I’m not terrified at all), these are the 10 things I would tell my fresher self.

Cooking for yourself is not THAT scary.

You lived off mum’s cooking for 19 years of your life and you came to uni with minimal cooking skills (cereal doesn’t count). Learning how to cook will save you both money and health. Look up some easy-to-cook recipes, utilise Google, grab the seasoning, prepare to endure some slightly burnt chicken and you will learn before realising.

Ain’t no party like Freshers’ pre-drinks.

Like parties but hate clubbing? It’s more common than you’d think. But that’s fine, because pre-drinks are actually the best part of the night. They’re like nothing you’ve experienced before back home. Trust me, never turn down a pre-drink party.

Volunteering, volunteering, volunteering!

Supporting a good cause and volunteering is a great step towards preparing for a graduate role and the experience gained is useful in an interview. On top of that, you could get the Stellify award from the Uni with enough volunteering hours. Don’t skip volunteering in your first year – you will end up regretting it when you actually have no time to do it.

Do yourself a favour: don’t procrastinate.

It’s okay, I already know you will anyway.

You will often feel very lonely.

You will experience a new type of loneliness, which is feeling as though you are the only one going through something (although you certainly aren’t) – be it being away from home, having a financial issue, not feeling confident academically. This is perfectly normal, but make sure you don’t bottle it up, and speak to someone before it gets overwhelming. Which leads me to my next point:

(Please, please, please) Look after your mental health!

The thing with mental illness is that you can’t really comprehend how scary it can be until you experience it. Indeed, uni and work are both mentally demanding, to the extent that most people will struggle with mental illness. It does not make you weak. Just like you would avoid going outside without a jacket in January to avoid falling ill, work out strategies to support your mental wellbeing. Practice sleep hygiene. Do not compare yourself to others. Address feelings of anxiety, stress and loneliness and please make use of the University’s free counselling service as soon as you feel unwell.

Do that UCIL course you’ll have your eyes on before 2nd year.

The module you were going to swap it with turned out to be neither enjoyable nor particularly useful. It doesn’t make you “disloyal” to your course – it will, in fact, broaden your knowledge beyond it.

You came to uni with your next few years planned out? That’s cute.

Not to scare you, but no part of that plan will work out. It will for some people, it might partially for others, and it won’t for the rest. However, it does not mean that nothing will ever work out for you. You can’t possibly know everything at the start of uni, things will sort out on their own in ways you wouldn’t expect. Keep doing things as best as you can and don’t let setbacks get to you – one way or another, it will work out.

Finding a job is HARD (but completely possible).

Oh, the feeling of getting an email from a potential employer that starts with “Thank you for your application. We regret to inform you…”. It’s not you, it’s just the way it is. The UK job market is extremely competitive and finding a job is a struggle. And yet, by now, you’ll have done it four times, work placements included. Keep doing your best, never stop applying, and make sure you make use of the Careers Service when you feel lost. And absolutely do NOT rage quit.

Enjoy the ride.

Uni is a crazy, yet reasonably “safe” time of your life, and it ends so quickly! Yes, there will be setbacks. Yes, there will be doubt. But there will also be friends, opportunities, parties, discoveries, laughter and many good memories. Uni is a bit of a roller-coaster. Savour every second of the good and seek support during the bad. I promise you, it’s all worth it in the end.

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