Being a student is definitely the best time of your life. You have the freedom to choose which path you want to take in life and it begins to shape you into your working life. As I have just finished my first year as a university student, I have learnt a few things big and small. It can be daunting to start in a new place not knowing anyone but I have a few tips for you so you can get the most out of your university experience. So, here are the seven things I’ve learnt while being a student.
Budget your money
So, your student loan has just dropped and sitting in your bank is over £1000 - obviously you want to splash the cash by spending it on nights out or new clothes. Try and resist! As difficult as it may be with all that money just sitting in your bank, don’t spend it all at once. I have had many friends at uni who have spent their loan in the first couple of months and are living with £20 until their next payday, which when having to support yourself is a nightmare! My advice is get a savings account and budget yourself - not too strict but make sure you can afford the essentials (which includes going out). But whatever you do stay away from the black hole of overdrafts! Even though it looks good you will just be in an endless cycle of doom as you will have to keep paying it after every loan.
Clean your room regularly
I know I sound like your mum right now but honestly it is so easy to let your room build up into a mess as they are very small. Try and keep it clean as it will de-stress you when you have mountains of work to do and it's one less thing to worry about. It's hard to motivate yourself to do it when your mum isn't there nagging you to - but you’ll miss the many unannounced visits.
Get your library books early
It seems silly to be saying this before you’ve even get to university, but there are only so many copies of books and they go so fast. Luckily, I got the last couple of my first year books and I went straight after my first lecture. My advice would be to email your lecturer and ask for a reading list because, honestly, you’ll be lost without the books and you really don’t want to pay over £30 for a textbook. That's the same cost of a good night out!
Join a club
Whether it’s netball, football, rugby, tennis or even gin-tasting societies (an actual society at my university), make sure you get involved especially if you’re living at home for your first year. When I began my journey at university, my lectures had 13 people in them so it was lucky I joined a society and lived away from home as I wouldn’t have the friends I do now. It’s so important to get involved and be confident at university - even if you’re not confident, fake it!
Get involved in Freshers' week
Make sure you are involved in most of the parties and nights out in Freshers' Week as this is the golden time to make friends as everyone is in the same boat. It can be scary meeting new people. I was so nervous in Freshers' Week but my flatmate and I met an amazing group of girls who I’m still friends with. Don’t be afraid to dance, sing and talk to other people as everyone is there for a good time and all want to make the most of it!
Get ahead of your work
I can’t stress this enough, once you start putting off work that is when it all begins to build up and it can be a horrible experience catching up on it all. I have had many times when I have pulled all nighters to get an assignment done, and it’s not fun seeing people come home from nights out whilst you’re still doing work. My advice would be to do it as soon as you get assigned the work because then you have more time for relaxing and spending time getting to know your new friends.
The North and South divide
Yes this is real! There is a rivalry between the North and South which is extremely heightened at university. Being a Northerner, I usually get Southerners trying to mimic my accent whereas Southerners are called posh by us Northerners. There is also no such thing as the Midlands at university - you have to pick a side so choose wisely.
By Fionnuala McNulty follow me on Twitter @FionnualaMcNult