Wednesday, 5 August 2015

A Guide To Surviving Your First Year At University

When I decided to go to university, I really wasn't at all interested in experiencing the 'student lifestyle'. In fact, I was rather worried about being the only one who didn't like going out-out or getting drunk. I have just finished my first year studying Psychology (BSc Single Hons) at Leeds Trinity University and to be completely honest, I feel that my dislike of going out-out really held me back. Don't get me wrong - I met some lovely people and found other ways to socialise, but fresher's week was probably the worst week of my entire life. Closely followed by 'Re-freshers week' - like seriously, who on earth would want to do it again?

With this, there were many points during my first year where I considered dropping out. I wanted to be there, but there were quite a few occasions where I just wanted to get out as soon as possible. But now I've finished my first year with a 2:1 (almost a First too) and I'm so glad I didn't drop out as I'm actually looking forward to going back at the end of September!' So without further a due, here are my top tips for surviving your first year at university!

Only be there if you want to be
Clearly this is a no brainer. If you are only going to university because you feel its the right thing to do, or because all your friends are going - DON'T. If you don't want to be there, you won't enjoy it by forcing yourself to go. I know so many people who dropped out because they only went because they felt they had to. Nowadays there are so many more options to consider - apprenticeships, foundation diplomas, jobs, internships!

Get Organised
This is probably one of the most essential things you need to survive university in general. If you aren't at all organised you can probably kiss the chance of a good degree goodbye. I'm not saying that you have to make sure that you have to have everything but the kitchen sink packed in your bag for lectures, but do make sure you complete all work set and start your assignments in PLENTY of time. Chances are you'll struggle and if you've only started on them the day before there will be no lecturers on hand to help you out.

Have fun, but know your limits
I feel like a lot of people I know could have taken this piece of advice by the bucket load. The amount of times I heard disaster stories of people getting so drunk they ended up in hospital or doing drugs and passing out or doing goodness knows what else. My Dad is a Paramedic in Leeds and every time I saw him whilst at university, he'd always have tales to tell me about what my fellow students had done. Thankfully I'm not a big drinker (unless its cocktails haha), so this one didn't really need pointing out to me.

Try to get yourself out there
This is one thing I really wish I had done more of. I'm not one of the most outgoing people out there, and although my friends might disagree; when I'm not with them I really struggle. And I mean really struggle. I went down the campus bar a once or twice a week but usually only for food when I couldn't be bothered to cook. I hardly ever joined in with the activities on campus and was back in my flat before 12pm pretty much every night. As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I'm not your typical teenager, I'd much rather be tucked up in bed with a cup of tea and a pack of biscuits watching Netflix.

Create a budget and stick to it as best you can
Its a pretty stereotypical view that ALL students are broke. But not everyone is broke! At the end of the year I had money left over and treated myself to a new camera. How did I manage this I hear you ask? I BUDGETED!! I didn't waste my money on crap I knew I wouldn't need or use. I made use of my student discount in shops that accepted it and I used loyalty cards for my local supermarket. It is a lot easier to do than you think - seriously, if I can do it - so can you.

Don't take other peoples food
Especially without asking!!! I would never have dared to do this. If its the one thing you take from this guide, don't get between someone else and their food. Even if you have failed to stick to your budget or just simply can't be bothered to take a trip to the supermarket. If you can't be bothered to go shopping, try online shopping. If you've run out of money because you didn't budget properly, why not try asking your parents for a supplement or even get a part time job!

Balance your work, social and university lives successfully
During my first week at university, one of the lecturers mentioned that you should treat university like a job. You should spend the same amount of time independently learning as you would in a part time job (30-35 hours per week)! Easier said than done, I know. But once you have mastered how to do balance your various lives you are onto a winner. I spent most of my first year in my PJs eating food and watching Pretty Little Liars or Orange Is The New Black on Netflix. So I can honestly say that I haven't quite managed this yet. But if you're anything like me, you can use your first year to work out how you manage your time as first year doesn't count towards your degree. Just make sure you don't completely flunk the year or you'll have to resit before you can pass through into second year.

Look after yourself
Another no-brainer. Just because you are at university doesn't mean you have to survive entirely on Super Noodles and Doritos. Try and incorporate some fruit and veggies into your diet. If you don't know how to cook, why not search the internet for some simple recipes and have a go! You will also need to make extra effort when a deadline is looming. Make sure you have some healthier snacks available for those long shifts sat staring at your laptop screen and franticly scouring through text books.

Got any tips of your own? Feel free to share them in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
Love Charlotte x



  1. This is exactly how I feel about university! I didn't go out much last year and was still on the working hype from A levels! Hopefully next year will be different :)

  2. I can totally relate to this post!:)

  3. Great post! I really wish I was able to read this like 3 years ago :3 hehe
    Foteini from My Life as Foteini ♥

  4. Thanks for the tips.
    I am Angolan living in Portugal and this September I will join a Foundation Course in England. I am extremely nervous because I want to study abroad. However, since our academic habits are so different, I needed tips to survive in a British Uni!
    Thanks once again!

  5. This is such a great post! I didn't enjoy my Fresher's Week much either because all my flatmates wanted to get drunk every night and I wanted to watch Netflix with a hot chocolate haha! Wonderful advice, and it works well going into second year too :) x

  6. i just graduated from university but i can completely relate to this post! I wasn't much of a going out type person in college and it is (and was) so nice to know there were other people who didn't as well! great post!

  7. Know your limits is so damn important! Uni is a climate where everyone is trying to fit in but there is definitely no need to do anything that could result in damage! Great advice.

  8. I felt the same when it was my first year at uni but I pushed myself to go out during freshers so I could get to know my housemates. After that, people just do their own thing but making an effort definitely counts. I struggled with confidence too at first, I can't shut up when I'm with my friends but I remember really struggling in first year as everyone else seemed so confident and 'out there' but it does get easier as you meet like-minded people so you can just be yourself. Are you going to stay in uni halls or have you found friends to live with in 2nd year? I just graduated from Leeds Beckett uni this year! I miss Leeds, I hope you like living there :)
    Suzanne //

  9. As a senior in college right now, I can say these are great tips! It's definitely important to get yourself out there and make connections. You'll need them later. And organization can't be stressed enough!!

  10. This is such a good post. I can relate, college/university feels crazy overwhelming. There were many things I wish I would have done differently, but you summed up a lot of them right here! Balancing all of your different lives and getting yourself out there is the hardest parts, but sooooo rewarding.

    Peace & Love // Celestralite

  11. I loved this post! I'm glad that first year wasn't completely overwhelming. I'm just onto my second semester. I never could imagine myself in uni. High school was so long ago. I'm greatly enjoying my second semester. I've learnt a few mistakes and I'm going to be more social and studious. :) x

  12. These are lovely tips! I'm just going into my fourth year of university and I think that the best tip I can offer is don't be afraid to get out there and get involved with your school! I was really shy for my first few years but since becoming involved more, I've made some fantastic friends and it's really helped my social anxiety! I've nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award and I hope that you'll check it out :)
    Mikayla |

  13. after just finishing my first year, I have to say this is a really great post! I totally agree with everything you've written, I wish I was told this last year :p

    Aliya x | |

  14. Hi Charlotte, I am now at my last 6 month of my candidate in Psychology and when I read your post I could recognize everything on the list. Really! I am so happy that I stayed because after 4 1/2 years, I am almost done. Your advice are great and I especially agree on the "only be there if you want to", because I had to rethink it a lot of times. But also, you don't have to stay for all the social things etc, if that isn't your thing. You are there for you, and that is it.

    Cylia -

  15. I'm going to Uni next September and I'm terrified I won't be able to handle it or I won't feel good there! I hear so many stories about people kind of losing themselves when they go to Uni that it seems scary! This is a great post! Xx

  16. I managed to keep control of myself! As long as you look after yourself I'm sure you'll do great! GOOD LUCK! X

  17. I love the "You are there for you, and that is it" bit! SO TRUE! X

  18. Hahaha, I wish I'd seen similar posts last year! Felt so unprepared when I started! X

  19. I have social anxiety too and I think thats something I may try and do more of next year! Thanks for the tip! X

  20. I've always wanted to go to uni, and I'm glad I've stuck at it! X

  21. Organisation is key to everything! X

  22. I didn't push myself in freshers and I think this was my biggest downfall. But I made some amazing friends in other ways so I'm not bothered! X

  23. I was the exact same! NETFLIX AND HOT CHOCOLATE FOR THE WIN! X

  24. Oooooh how exciting! Where abouts in England will you be studying? Good luck! X


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