What I’d tell my Fresher self 4 years on
University was the first time I was away from home without my family for more than 2 weeks. I found it exciting, new and different. I was ready to come out the other side of secondary school, see my name on the Year 13 Leavers slide show and go onto bigger and better things.
That being said, it is scary. I’d been thinking about Uni for years beforehand and apart from seeing Cheesy American films set in US Colleges with similar portrayals of post-18 education, University is a personal experience and different for everyone.
Whether you’re still at School looking into University, deciding if it’s for you, a Fresher settling in or just curious about how my Uni Experience is comparing to yours, I’m about to impart my wisdom.
Fresher Emily, I’m about to give you a run down, take notes. This is what you need to know…
Remember your ID…
Two hours into the journey up to Warwick, I realised I’d forgotten my ID. We couldn’t go back to get it and the embarrassment I felt asking to use my Debit Card as ID when I arrived wasn’t the first impression I wanted to make for my first day.
This advice means more than just this, though. I guess I forgot my ID because I wasn’t planning on using it much. Meeting new people and enjoying the nightlife was something that scared me. It scared me a lot. For the first few days I wasn’t sure how to meet friends. However meeting people organically at University is easier than you think. There’s your flat, societies and course mates to name a few. The beauty of University is the vast, diverse bunch of people you will meet – there will be people for you. Putting time into people and seeing whether you click is the important thing to do, no matter how much it scares you. Sometimes just hanging out in an on-campus kitchen can help you meet someone you’ll be hanging out in a kitchen with for years for to come.
Keep with your Societies…
The thing I desired more than anything from University was Belonging. My School life had been average, I went to School and came home, but at University I wanted to be a part of something. I wanted to create a community in every aspect, most importantly within my flat and a society.
Joining a Society was so important for my wellbeing during first year. I think it’s the best way to meet people, organise events and make a difference to student’s lives. In the end, joining the Wind Orchestra and becoming Social Secretary and President secured my happiness at Warwick.
Be picky with your Societies but give a variety of them a go! There are currently over 250 Societies at Warwick so head to Societies Fair during Freshers Week, try them all out and maybe choose a top few to become active within. Societies want to attract new members and I found that being a “keen bean”, a fresher everyone knows about, was the best way to be taken under a society’s wing.
I remember in second year I was talking to a girl who was scared of going to a Society social on her own, I said to her “Go, go!” and now she’s on that Society’s Exec, my advice works.
Don’t let your Uni Expectations control your Uni Experience…
Watching your new Facebook Friends upload photos of their first few terms of Uni can be dangerous. No one’s University Experience will be same and the important thing is to work out how you can make your own better. You can’t forget when you’re attending Warwick that your degree will be academically challenging and hard work, studying is what you’re paying for. I didn’t expect my degree to be as rigorous as it is but I enjoy the challenge. Don’t forget the work hard behind the play hard – during the week there is an expectation that you will be working.
You also need to remember University is a growth experience. The way I am now is not the way I was when I was a first year. I’d like to think if my first year self saw me now she would be less worried about the future. Her work helped me to gain the experience I wanted from University, not the one someone else would want necessarily.
I’m the first one to suggest a night out now with my friends. I still find meeting new people scary, but I have the confidence to meet with them and see what happens. I love encouraging people and supporting them to get involved in societies.
Before I go, just remember this: University takes time to adapt to, it’s something new. Feeling nervous is valid but don’t let it stop you sowing the seeds to grow the experience you want.