I’m not the most outgoing person but I still loved my Welcome Week last year!

I think that Warwick really do a great job of hosting events for all sorts of people. Throughout the week, I was constantly busy, getting to know my flatmates in the evenings and trying out loads of new events and societies during the day. What I was most afraid of though was what would happened when the excitement wore off and the working weeks began.

I tried very hard to keep myself occupied so that I almost didn’t have time to overthink things but once I got into it, I loved every week of my first year even when the workload stacked up. It definitely took some time to adjust. Welcome Week was great but nothing like a typical week so I thought that I would share some of the ways I made it easier for myself to settle into a routine, into my new home and to get the most out of my first year.

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Make your room your own:

This may sound simple, and it isn’t something that can be rushed really but I found that once I had made my mark on my room, it instantly began to feel more welcoming and homely. Posters and pictures on the walls were a must for me. I brought a lot of things from home – all the usual film and music related posters – but I also picked up a new poster at the sale out in the piazza. It was nice to have a touch of the old next to a hint of the new. That’s what university is all about after all.

The other main decoration in my room was my bookshelf. I love to read and came into first year with a whole box of books that I was determined to make space for in my room. Once those were up on the shelves, then it really felt like my room back at home. With bare walls filled, it felt a little less alien and easier to settle in to.

My advice, think about what’s important to you in your room at home and find a way to incorporate that into your new halls. Once your room feels less like a blank slate that anyone could be living in, based on my experience, it will make it a lot easier to get comfortable and enjoy time when you just want to sit and relax for a while.

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Be the one to make a suggestion:

My biggest regret from first year was not doing more stuff with my flatmates especially in term one. It’s not that we didn’t get on but we didn’t make plans together that often which was a real shame. 

I always wanted to suggest things but I was too nervous. When I finally did though, I realised that everyone else was pretty much in the same position, up for anything but waiting for a suggestion. So, my advice, take the leap, make the suggestion and see what comes of it. It wasn’t until Christmas for me when I suggested a flat movie night and asked the controversial question of whether or not my flatmates deemed Die Hard a Christmas film that I realised how alike we all were.

I hope you can learn from my timidity. Movie nights are the simplest thing in the world to organise so it isn’t even too draining to get it all together and I always find its nice to have something to be looking forward to when get through problems sheets and lab reports.

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Don’t be scared to call home:

Before university, I was always reading up on tips and tricks for settling in and surviving first year but one thing that I did find was that most people agreed that you should try and avoid calling home or visiting family in the early weeks. I strongly disagree with this suggestion.

I found that on days when I was struggling, a two minute conversation with my family could raise my spirits and get me through it. They cheered me on through my blunders (mostly relating to adult chores I had never even considered before) and they were there with moral support whenever I needed them.

In moderation, keeping in contact with home is not a bad thing at all. I would say be careful not to be calling home and therefore shunning your flatmates when you could be getting involved but also, don’t be afraid to catch up with your parents just for the comfort of a familiar voice.

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Embrace the workload:

I think it’s easy to lose sight of why you chose your course when the workload gets tough but it’s an important detail to hold on to. If you’ve come this far, you must be good at your course, don’t ever doubt that, but also don’t forget why you enjoy what you do. 

I remember feeling a bit lost in first year. Sometimes we were set assignments that, for a time, felt impossible to get through. In those times, I would always turn to Astronomy. It’s probably the main reason I chose to go into Physics and something that I am genuinely passionate about. So when I began to question whether I had made a huge mistake in choosing my course, I would read a book about space and the stars or even just watch a bit of science fiction TV and it reminded me why I came here in the first place.

The work is tough but manageable. Don’t let it swamp you and you’ll be fine.

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Get out there:

My final tip, it will never be easier to head out for a spur of the moment event so make the most of it. On campus it’s so simple to just jump online when you have a free evening to see what’s going on around campus and there’s almost always something you can go and get involved with.  Make the most of that opportunity. The options are still there in later years but it’s not quite so simple to just run off at the last minute to an event. 

University has so much to offer so get out there and enjoy it.

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This is what worked for me. First Year is a very personal experience and everyone has different priorities but I hope that something in this list can help make your journey through first year a little bit smoother.