5 Of The Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned In First Year – OurWarwick

5 Of The Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned In First Year

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Victoria Heath | English Literature and Creative Writing Contact Victoria

Thirty weeks. Three terms. And here I am, on the very last day of my first year at Warwick. It feels so strange to say that: it doesn’t seem long ago that I sat down to read some of the posts on OurWarwick as a prospective student, just as some of you will be doing now.

This year has certainly been an unusual one – I never expected to have three national lockdowns during my time at Warwick; but despite the pandemic, I have ended first year with so many memories with my flatmates, friends and boyfriend.

You might be scared to start university. That’s normal. You might be bursting to move out and live at university. That’s normal too. You might be a mixture of both, or neither at all. That’s normal. The point being is that starting university is not linear – its perhaps the biggest progression in your life and so there will be so many emotions that you feel. I hope to alleviate some of the worries that you might be feeling by sharing five of the most important things that I’ve learned in my first year at Warwick.

1) You become so much more independent

This is the first time in your life where you truly have freedom to do what you want. Nobody will tell you to go and get shopping or to do work for your seminar, or to cook dinner. You can lounge around all day or study for hours in the library. You can sleep in till 2pm or wake up at 6am – the choice is yours. The freedom of university life is an experience like no other.

But you quickly learn that if you don’t do some things (namely chores), they simply won’t be done. That stack of plates will stay there until you wash them, no matter how hard you wish the fairy from the Fairy Liquid bottle could swoop down and do it for you. The independence of university life is liberating, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. At first, it can feel daunting to manage laundry, cooking, grocery shopping as well as university work all at once, but it soon becomes a normal part of your life.

2) Facing your fears is the best thing you can do 

Moving away from home is by far the scariest thing I have ever done. When my parents drove off from Arthur Vick, I wanted to cry. I have always been a home-bird, and as an only child who is the first in the family to go to university, I felt totally out of my depth in that moment.

But over the course of the first day and the weeks that followed, I developed such strong relationships with my flatmates. We experienced highs and lows together, and became like a mini family. I met other people and had so many experiences that I will never forget. Facing your fears really does pay off, and I can’t believe that at one point I considered not moving out because of my own worries of missing home.

3) Make a meal plan and a shopping list (and bulk cook!)

On a practical note, making a meal plan is one of the best things you can do to stay organised at university. 

It doesn’t need to be anything fancy; just a section in your notes app where you write down each meal for the week. Then, break that down into the ingredients you need to buy. This way, you won’t be left wondering what to cook from half an onion and some fish fingers left in your freezer!

Another food-related tip is to bulk-cook; for example, if you’re making spaghetti and meatballs, cook enough for two portions. Or if you’re making a salad, chop enough vegetables up for several days. This will save you a lot of time (and a lot of washing-up, which you will thank me for later!)

4) Time alone is just as important as your social life

University life can sometimes provide an intense pressure to appear constantly social. Don’t feel as though you have to go out every single night, or do something exciting each day. Although university is one of the most exciting experiences of your life, it is, after all, life. There will be days where you’re tired, hungover or simply not in the mood to socialise.

That’s why I recommend taking some time out each week, in order to avoid a socialising burnout. Watch a movie on your own or have a relaxing bath; read a book or even do some baking – anything which allows you to have some time just for you.

5) It’s never too early to start getting experience (but don’t get too overwhelmed!)

Although first year is typically a time where students settle in to their degree, there are still opportunities available which can be a great way of furthering your education. For example, this year, I have taken part in the Warwick Sprint programme, which is a women’s personal development programme.

I have also recently enrolled in TeamWork Alliance, a summer internship programme run by Warwick and Monash University, where students collaborate to solve problems faced by real-world organisations. Warwick regularly send out Student Opportunity emails, which have a huge list of internships, programmes and work experiences, so definitely check that out as you move through your first year.

I also created a LinkedIn this year, and have been working for some magazines and now Warwick as a student blogger. As the phrase goes, dip your toes in! Pick opportunities that you wouldn’t normally go for – go out of your comfort zone. University is a great place to discover what you love to learn about.

If you’re reading this as a prospective student, then I’ll let you in on the biggest lesson of them all (shock, horror: a sixth bonus lesson!) which is that you are about to embark on one of the most exciting times of your life. I appreciate that is such a cliché statement, but I truly mean it. A year ago I was sat at home, somewhat excited but mostly nervous about the thought of moving away from home. And a year later, as I have officially finished my final day of first year at Warwick, I’m sat here wishing that I could replay it all over again.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Victoria Heath | English Literature and Creative Writing Contact Victoria

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