It’s that time of year, back to school, back to college, back to uni. For a lot of people it’s their first time heading off or away from home and this is quite daunting. I’m no expert and maybe this won’t help anyone but I’ve been through it, so I said I would do a little post on preparing for university! I started university 3 years ago (I’m finished now, sob) and I moved quite a distance! I’m from Ireland but I moved to the U.K in order to do a course that wasn’t available in Ireland. It was incredibly daunting and hard considering I had just turned 18 and not only was I leaving home, I was leaving my home country. When I moved over it was lonely and it was scary and I did find myself questioning if I had done the right thing by moving for the course. Now I’m finished and I am about to start my dream job, so I can definitely say it was the right move.
First Things First
So you’re about to head off, what advice can I give you? The first thing I would say is this; don’t do a course, just for the sake of it. Do something you will love and enjoy and that will lead you to a job and a life you will love when it’s all over. If you don’t know what it is you want to do, then take some time out, think about it. If you’re not interested in your course, you won’t enjoy the lectures, you won't want to attend, you won’t want to do the work and usually that means you won’t be very successful. I seen it happen on my own course, there was people who didn’t want to be there, who barely turned up and when they did they spent their time disrupting the rest of us. Needless to say they dropped out at the end of the first year, not only is this a waste of time, it’s a waste of money. I know there is often a lot of pressure to head off to college or university straight away, but there is nothing wrong with taking time out to figure out what you want to do. One of best friends went to college to do a course she wasn’t really interested in and ended up dropping out. She took a year out and now this year she is returning to uni to do a course she is actually interested in.
The Practical Stuff!
Well the first thing you will need is stationary (Woohoo!). I would recommend the hardback notebooks with dividers – do not use just a refill pad! – Notes fall out, get lost etc and it’s not good! The divider notepads allowed me to keep all my subject notes together and because they were hardback, all my notes are still in ace condition! Aside from notes you take yourself you’re bound to get handouts as well so I also had a sturdy folder, which I bought dividers for so all my subject notes could be categorised in the same way as they were in my notepad! The other thing I had was a regular ring bound notepad, this I used this for rough assignment and research notes. This is not a lot of stuff but it enabled me to be very organised and even now I would have no problem finding subject notes from any of my years because they are so well organised! :) Aside from this it also helped to have a diary with assignment due dates, exam dates etc. in, that way you will not forget!
I think a lot of first time students move into student digs, these tend to be pretty plain and not too fancy! I found that simple things made a big difference to me, a nice bed set, posters for your walls, picture collages (my favourite!) etc., anything that makes your space a bit more YOUR space. It’s probably the first “home away from home” for most people and so you really want it to be a place that feels like yours and that you’re happy to spend time in.
For a lot of people university is the time they come out of their shell and although it can be intimidating, remember 99% of people there are feeling the exact same as you! At my university all dorms were arranged with first years together and a fresher crew member that had been there before. So everybody that was there was in the same boat as I was. The important thing I found was this, the first people you hang round with don’t have to be your only friends; get out there, get talking to people as much as you can until you find a group of people you feel you fit into. A lot of uni life does centre around socialising and drinking, if this isn’t your thing don’t feel pressured to do it, there will always be people around with the same values as you. Join clubs and groups that reflect your interests, personally I found my best friends were people from my course, because we had the same interests. The other thing I found helped me was getting a job at our uni bar, you meet and talk to lots of people and it helped me to come out of my shell, make friends and earn a little extra cash!
The most important thing is to know what you want to from your university experience and make sure you get it. I had the best three years of my life (so far!) at uni and I’m sure when you finish you want to be able to look back and think the same, so enjoy it :)
Hope you enjoyed this post and it that it will be of some help to some of you :)