5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting University

Olivia PIther·11 April 2022·5 min read
5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting University

With my third year of university nearly coming to end, I feel like this is the perfect time to share some of the wisdom I have gained throughout my experience, highlighting my top 5 key points of advice for all-things university. If you’re reading this as an upcoming student in September, all I want to initially say is don’t be scared! It can seem so overwhelming with everything you have to think about, and I remember how worried I was about most things – will I enjoy my course? Will I get on with my flatmates? But this is all futile, and I want to move away from these anticipations and offer you honest and (in my experience) useful advice!

1. Do NOT leave work until the last minute!!!

I am talking from a very personal experience with this one. I unfortunately found that during my first year I struggled to balance my time with social life, work life and sleep. It is easy to get into a rut when you’re going out, prioritising making friends and having fun, yet always hungover so work is an afterthought. Just take a moment to schedule in a few hours a week or a couple hours every day, whatever works for you and your current workload, to sit down and study. Using different studying techniques and taking time away from any distractions can help to focus or working with your flatmates or friends can be a great way to combine social and work life.

2. ‘Fresher’s flu’ is unfortunately very much real

This is definitely not what you want to hear, but fear not, there are ways to avoid it or reduce feeling as ill as I did! I’m not going to say don’t go out and don’t drink alcohol, as for some people who enjoy doing this, it is not realistic. Instead, limit the times you go out if you start to feel run down, you won’t miss out on much and once you recover, you’ll be bound to make it up. Drink lots of water, get enough sleep, and make sure you continue to eat well. Find some easy recipes if you aren’t the best cook (like me) and make sure to have your three nutritious meals a day, as simple as it sounds!

3. Your money just disappears

When you start to pay for your rent, bills, food, going out, and just day-to-day living costs, you slowly realise your money disappears. I recommend some form of budgeting; this can sound boring and not how you want to spend your fun university time, BUT it is important to actually be able to afford your fun! Take a little bit of time out of your week or month to set aside a budget and I found this really helps me stay aware and recalculate some of the spending in one area if I go over in another. It can be as simple noting it down or using an online budget planner, depending on how organised you like it.

4. Work in the library or coffee shops

In first year, I tended to just do my work in my room for ease. However, once I started going to my university library, I felt myself become more productive in achieving better quality work and my stamina increased, working for longer periods of time. The simple act of getting out the house and changing your scenery can really make a difference. If you don’t fancy the silent environment of a library, check out the other study spaces your university offers, or just go to a coffee shop! This is something you can do with your friends too, a chance to be productive and social at the same time, with a slice of cake or nice drink on the side for motivation.

5. Make your living space a home

Moving away from home can initially feel weird, especially when you move into an empty room lacking your home comforts. My advice is to bring along or buy those little things that make your bedroom feel homely and comfortable, like a plant, a pillow, or most importantly photos. It is also important to choose accommodation that feels right for you, so spend some time thinking about that, (Accommodation for Students is perfect for filtering exactly what you’re looking for!).