Tips for Starting First Year
Hi everyone, welcome to my first blog post!
I’ve just finished my first year at Warwick – I can’t believe how quickly it’s flown by! Your first year at uni is full of opportunities to meet new people, develop new interests and get a taste of independence. It can be both exciting and overwhelming, and looking back on the year I can see what habits helped me adapt to university life and what I wish I’d known earlier. I wanted to share a few of these with anyone who will be starting university in September – I hope the following tips will help you make the most of your first year at Warwick!
When you’re in a completely new environment it can be easy to retreat into the safety of your room, but being at uni (especially living in halls) is unique in that you’re surrounded by people (whether it’s flatmates or course mates) who are going through the same experience as you, so make the most of this! Knocking on a flatmate’s door, hanging out in your kitchen at dinner time or going for a drink with course mates are important parts of your day-to-day life. As someone who finds it hard to pull themselves away from studying, I’ve realised that it’s really important to make time to socialise – it really helps you feel more balanced, connected and at home.
There are so many societies at Warwick, it can be hard to know where to start! It’s good to try out as many you can – in the first few weeks societies run taster sessions and a variety of socials (from SU nights out to meals at the Dirty Duck) to let you get a feel for the group. There are loads of different drama societies which are really flexible as you can get involved in any project that takes your interest, you don’t have to commit to only working with one society. Following societies on Facebook is a great way to keep up with what’s happening, but societies also send members emails so you can still stay up to date if you don’t have Facebook!
Like a lot of people, I started worrying about housing much earlier than I needed to – I remember how stressed I felt hearing that people were going to house viewings in November! Whilst some of the more popular properties are taken early, there are lots of houses available and groups were still advertising their spare rooms over Easter and even in the summer term. It’s important that you find the right people to live with and it can take time to find who you really bond with, so try not to rush into anything out of panic. I’ve also found that it takes time to work out which location suits you best – I originally wanted to live in Leamington but eventually realised that the commute wasn’t for me so opted for Coventry instead. Warwick held a housing day at the end of November which gave guidance on the housing process so even though it feels scary, there are people there to support you.
The Theatre course uses a variety of assessment methods (some of which you might be totally new to) and you’ll be working with lots of new people so try not to let a bad mark get you down too much as it’s very normal and will help you navigate where your strengths are before choosing your second year modules. My marks from this first year didn’t count towards my actual degree (instead, I had to achieve a certain percentage to pass the year) which is great as it let me get used to how the course works. Remember to reflect on how far you’ve already improved since starting uni and remember that your tutors are there to support you.
Taking more trips off campus and exploring the area is something I wish I’d done more of this year! The campus is really well connected with public transport; it’s easy to get to Leamington, Coventry and Birmingham, and Stratford upon Avon is also nearby. Societies also organise events like bar crawls in Leamington and theatre trips to Coventry and Stratford which is a great opportunity to explore in a group. When living on campus we can take its beauty for granted so going for a walk and taking some photos is a great way to take a break and make the most of living at Warwick.
It can be difficult to get into a routine when you start uni but it’s really helped me feel more settled, get enough sleep (and attend those 9am lectures!), stay on top of work and have time to socialise. Making a weekly schedule really helps you make the most of your time and reassure yourself that you can get everything done. I usually divide my schedule into 4 sections for each day (morning, afternoon, evening and night) as this is structured enough to give me direction but flexible enough to allow for things to be moved around. The temptation to stay up late every night is strong as it can feel like you’re missing out on fun with your flatmates but getting enough sleep is vital – it reduces the chances of you sleeping through your alarms and generally helps you feel more organised and less stressed.
First year is for finding your feet. As someone who can be quite introverted I’ve learnt that it’s great to dive into opportunities, but equally don’t feel pressured to be involved in everything all at once. Everyone adjusts to uni life differently and any societies you missed out on this year will still be waiting for you next year! Balance following your interests and what feels right for you with pushing yourself to try new things – it’s a perfect time to explore and every experience will help prepare you for second year!