Wednesday, 2 August 2017

10. A Fresher's A - Z

No matter how many student guides you read for Fresher's week, nothing can quite prepare you for being there until you actually arrive and begin experiencing things for yourself. But that said, it is always a good thing to listen to what other students have to say and to take on board their advice.

If you're reading this, then the likelihood is that you are nervous about heading to university in the next few weeks and you are trying to find out as much information as you possibly can beforehand. Let me reassure you that you are going to have the most wonderful time. University has been the best decision I could have made over the past few years and has completely changed my life for the better. Through the experiences and opportunities I have been through, I have become a much better person with a more open mind set. This means that I am already beginning to face the challenges I've always dreamt of, knowing that I am well on the way to achieving success this way.

Instead of a guide, here is instead a student A-Z of all things Fresher's; Going beyond that first week into the year, these are some of the things you might need to know on your journey.

Prepare yourself for the adventure of a life time
A - Attendance

Being punctual to your lessons is just as important now as it has been throughout the rest of your education. To find out all of the necessary information you are going to need to be on time, alert and ready to learn.

Think of it as a job: You wouldn't show up to an important interview or a shift late simply because you overslept. So treat every class like it is an interview for your dream job.

B - Blueberries + Bananas

It's kind of a given that you are going to get Fresher's flu at some point or another, the question is simply when. But give yourself a fighting chance and stick to the healthy fruit + veg. This and keeping hydrated are your best chance of avoiding sickness whilst at university in those initial weeks.

C - Classes

Keep a mindset that is optimistic and learning positive. Something I like to do when I go into each class is to aim to learn at least one new thing from the class that day, even if it is only about an author's biography.

The best thing about this approach is that it is applicable to any course or degree path. Utilise it the best you can and you will soon find yourself soaring towards those grades you long to achieve.

D - Discounts

Student discounts are absolutely fabulous for many reasons. They not only save you so much money but make restaurants and clothes stores alike more accessible on the overall spectrum. Make sure you take this into account when planning your next night out with new friends.

Also (a tip to bear in mind) make sure to carry your student card with you at all times so that you don't miss out on those discounts.

E - Exciting

This is a reminder for the initial stages of your degree more than anything. Whilst you are probably feeling an odd mixture of things right now, from nervousness to curiosity, make sure to
focus on the positives.

It will really help to reassure you that yes this is the right step for you and no, it's not cold feet but instead just those nerves raising their head right now.

F - Fresher's Fair

Possibly the best part of the year because you will be absolutely spoiled for choice! Look into all of the different clubs and societies and see what you can find.

This will be the ideal place to find the different pockets of campus where you can find likeminded people to get to know and become friends with. Whether it be orchestra, debate club or the newspaper, find something that works for you.

G - Gym Membership

Staying healthy is difficult when you have so many classes and club meetings going on throughout the week. For this reason, investing in a gym membership can be a really useful way to keep yourself motivated when it comes to fitness.

Set yourself small weekly goals so that you aren't pushing yourself too much and will be able to achieve what you set out to achieve. For instance, I set myself at least half an hour of swimming twice a week for my personal goal during the holidays because I am already so active on a daily basis due to free time.

H - Home

Moving away from home can be difficult for many reasons. Largely because you have so much responsibility for yourself for the very first time and are also away from your friends and family; Away from the place you've always referred to as home.

But make sure that you set out to create a second home in your new residence. Put up your favourite photographs on the walls and invite your new friends over for a sleepover. Making memories with the people you care about will mean that it soon feels like you have always lived there.

I - Interesting Point

Really get involved with your subject by asking questions and contributing the ideas you come up with. Everyone will be a bit nervous to provide their own ideas to the discussion  at first, but as the weeks go by you'll soon be finding it easier to share your ideas.

You'll learn from your peers just as much as you will learn from your teachers, particularly in seminars, so make sure that you have your attention button switched on so that you catch everything that is said.

J - Jobs

At some point or another, you are going to need to find some work experience. So that you can give something back to your community and head towards paid work sooner, I suggest you get some practice via voluntary work as soon as you can.

Develop your CV and pick up new skills by getting involved with a local charity nearby. It will most likely be something you can cater to your schedule so that you can get involved whilst still putting your studies first.

K - Keep In Touch

Whilst making new friends and getting to know your university area is exciting, don't forget about the people back home. Be sure to keep in touch with them, through phone calls and letter writing. It will help you to feel less homesick too because regular contact means that family don't feel all too far away at all.

L - Love

Long distance relationships can work if you apply the previous suggestion and remain committed to your boyfriend or girlfriend. Make sure that you set aside time for one another throughout the week. You could even take it in turns to visit one another throughout the year, especially if you are both beginning at new universities.

M - Making Friends

Something a lot of students worry about when they head to university is that they won't fit in or that they won't make friends. Let me put this concern out of your mind straightaway. You are all going to be in the same boat, so as long as you remain open, friendly and yourself, you will be making friends in no time.

N - Notes

Note taking can be a tricky one to get a hang of at first because those lecturers speak so quickly! The more you get used to this, the easier it will be to retain the useful information and to copy things up more neatly.

I also highly recommend that you keep a separate ring binder for each individual class so that you can file your notes in order. Also, copying up notes can not only be a useful way to record information more clearly (I am a fan of colour coding) but also to memorise information. You'll be revising without even realising!

O - Outlook

That positive outlook I mentioned for class earlier? well make sure you are applying it to as much as you can.

If you are looking at things with a smile and determination to do well you are far more likely to succeed. Remember, the more you do the easier it will be to get towards your best work at a quicker rate.

P - Parties

There are a lot of parties throughout the year, not just during Fresher's. It can be good to go to one or two to see if this scene is for you. Be safe though (always keep your drink with you and don't walk home alone too late at night).

If you really aren't a party person then don't worry, that's ok too. Look for events that you can go to which will be suitable for you and your friends and make the most of those, whether those be movie nights or board game marathons.

Q - Questions

The best thing about being a student is that you are basically getting the opportunity to be curious and learn about all of the things that you care about in immense detail for the next 3-4 years. Really utilise that by asking every question you can come up with to find out as many answers and inspirations as you can.

No question is ever too silly. Unless the question is 'I wasn't listening - could you tell me what the lecture was about?'

R - Revision

Make a schedule that combines classes, external life and revision together. If you start really early with revision you are more likely to retain information successfully because you will be working at your own pace.

I keep this schedule above my desk throughout the academic year and use it as a guideline. Don't always push yourself to fill the blocks - sometimes half an hour of solid work can be more use to you than an hour of messing about would. Work at your own pace yes, but don't forget that this still means you need to be working hard.

S - Study Hard

The harder you work now the easier the rest of your degree will be as a whole. A lot of students will take the approach that this is only first year so it doesn't count, therefore they don't have to work hard - don't be that student!

Whilst yes, first year doesn't really count you still need to pass all of your assignments. Plus, the harder you work the likelier it is that feedback will be useful to you. You will be able to take it and use it to shape your voice into something even better to read than it previously was. That progress is definitely something which will become evident throughout your work as the year goes on.

T - TV License

Remember that both watching live television and i-player on BBC is illegal unless you have a TV licence. You can buy one for around £145 (per annum) which will keep you covered for watching TV if this is something you will want to do throughout your first year.

U - University 

I know, I know - it seems an obvious one... But think about it. I mean really, really think about it. You've worked so hard to get here. You're actually at university! Give yourself a moment or two to really soak in where you are, what you are doing and what this means to you individually.

It was no small feat to achieve, but you did it. You finally got here!

V - Vocation

Some people go into their degree knowing exaclty what they want to use their subject for at the end when they have all of their results. For others, it can be a little more complicated.

Don't worry either way - this is the time when you can explore and experiment with your options. Find some things which work well for you and roll with it. This is the best way you can find your vocation - by giving yourself the time to research and to experience things first hand to answer perhaps the most difficult question any person ever has to face.

W - Student Welfare

Make the most of having an excellent group of advisors through the student welfare system at your university. They will be able to provide you with advice on everything from feeling home sick to student finance.

I've had several problems throughout the last year that have required me to get in touch with the welfare team at York and they have been so helpful. Especially in regards to any problems that have arisen throughout the procedure of applying for study abroad.

Rest assured, you will always have the support nearby that you need.

X - Xylophone

It may sound silly but use the metaphor 'try the xylophone' to apply to anything new. In short, try something new! Whether that be joining the rock climbing club or journalism society, give yourself a chance at something you have always wanted to try but have never attempted.

Y - Yourself

No matter what, make sure you stay yourself over this next year. It is easy to get caught up in things and to forget what it is you set out to achieve. Keep focused and remind yourself why exactly it is you are here. This is the most successful way you can remain level headed.

If you stay grounded and continue to work hard then you'll soon be reaching those goals you set out to achieve in the first place. Having faith in yourself and knowing there is no better person to be than you is the best place to start.

Z - ZZZ's

And on a final note, after all that conversation about emotions and hard work, make sure that you are catching up with your sleep! At some point you will doubtless have to stay up all night to do work and late nights can always have their pros. But sleep comes first.

Whether you use an app or simply get used to a routine, make sure you are getting the necessary 8 hours sleep each night so that you are bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to take on those early morning lectures first thing the next day.

Thank-you for all your support and comments. It is a fantastic thing to be able to help answer any of your questions and to share my adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day! 

If you like, you can click here to vote for me as Blogger of the month. Thank-you!

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