First of all, happy 2018 everyone! Hope you’re all been enjoying your well-deserved Christmas break. With the start of the new year and the second term approaching soon, I thought I might reflect on the things I’ve learnt and taken away after my first term at university.

Ask for help when you need it. While it is important try and solve a problem on your own first, it’s even more important to actually ask for help if you’re still struggling! During my first couple of maths lectures I remember myself panicking that I couldn’t keep up with the pace nor understand the content at first. Plus I felt intimidated to ask a question as I didn’t want to feel that I couldn’t handle the work nor ask anything daft in front of everyone and embarrass myself. However after visiting my lecturer during his office hours, I found he was more than happy to go through the concepts again and was actually glad to see students in my year coming to him with questions. So bear in mind that your department, lecturers and tutors WANT to see you succeed, they WANT you to do well. Their experience with dealing with first-year years especially means they totally understand that we’re just settling in. So if you have any concerns about your course or your personal welfare, make sure to get the right help when you need it.

Don’t beat yourself up all the time. This is something I’ve always been notorious bad at – while starting university is both new and exciting, it can also seem a bit daunting. For me leaving behind my family and friends at home was a huge step out of my comfort zone, so my lack of confidence made me feel that I was approaching many aspects of university life the wrong way. But starting university and living alone for the first time is a huge step for anyone and while this jump will be different for certain people, everyone will feel this to some degree, which is often very difficult to notice when the going gets tough. So give yourself some downtime in a day and just remember to be kind to yourself.

REALLY don’t compare yourself to others. This again is something I’m awful at (This advice is really sticking out like a sore thumb) – one of the best things I’ve found out about university is the cultural diversity. Everyone has their own unique traits, interests, hobbies, opinions and attitude to approaching challenges. Therefore it’s easy to second-guess or criticise yourself if you feel everyone is superior to you in some way. But while saying this does make me cringe at the irony, the only person you should be comparing yourself to is you. You may believe that everyone is seemingly doing things better than you outwardly, but appearing confident on the outside is totally different to feeling confident on the inside. You may meet people who do like to talk about their talents or successes (social media can be both a good and bad place for this) but bear in mind that this is only a partial image of them, as you don’t see the struggles or previous failures they’ve had to face in order to get to where they are now! The only person that you should be comparing yourself to is who you were yesterday and the day before that, as you know how much you’ve developed as a person. This is the major difference I’ve found about university compared to school as there is so much more focus on personal growth, as your having to perhaps do so many new things you haven’t done before!

If anything I’ve mentioned here is relatable to you in some way, I hope that this will help you provide some comfort by showing you that you’re not alone. University isn’t ever going to be easy at times but the challenges you face will just help you grow onwards and upwards!

All the best and hope you have a brilliant start to the new year!