I’m taking you on a trip down memory lane for this one. All the way back to 2005 to be exact, so I suppose it’s only right to start this blogpost by sharing some poor quality photos taken from my point-and-shoot 3.5 megapixel camera.

I don’t have that many photos left. Throughout uni, I used Bebo but that went tits up and it lost all my uni pics! Sad times. I grabbed what I could off Facebook to be reminded what life was like before fleeky eyebrows.

How To Survive Your First Year At University

This time next week, my sister will be starting her very first day at uni. She’s excited but naturally apprehensive. 
Even though my first year as a University student was a REALLY long time ago, I can still remember it as if it was yesterday. And that’s because that fear of starting uni will be embedded into your brain forever! I’m just kidding, it’s really not that scary…
I mean, it IS scary but that first day/week fear will soon turn into excitement, and that excitement should (hopefully) last the entire time you’re at Uni. 
I’ve read so many blogposts on how it’s ok to not go to uni and the success people have had for not taking that decision. It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure, but I’m so glad I powered through it as I learned so much and it really was the best time of my life.
I want to offer some advice to freshers, especially those who might be extra nervous, but also write this as an open letter to my sister on how to survive your first year at University.

Advice For Freshers

First thing’s first:
Remind yourself that EVERY single first year will be in the exact same boat and will have the exact same feelings of nervousness. One thing that has changed since my days at uni, as my sister recently informed me, is that she managed to find a group page on Facebook to find out who her flatmates are going to be, so they’ve started to get to know each other before they all move in together next week. 
It’s OK to feel homesick:
It’s completely ok to admit if you’re feeling homesick, you will eventually settle down. And if you don’t, then home is only a train ride away. A lot of people that was in my social circle often travelled home over the weekends, and actually, one of the things that got me through my first year was that I went home at the weekends A LOT. This was also true for when I moved to London last year.

Make your room homely:
To be honest, I don’t think this is a priority for most young people living away from home for the first time? But this is coming from someone who let their mum pack their duvet set and ended up with mis-matching Hello Kitty and Forever Friends set for the first few days. Mega embarrassing but I went out and got new sheets asap. Plus a couple of other bits of homeware!
There will be a lot of nights out (but you don’t have to go to all of them):
Despite the pics you’re seeing here, I didn’t actually go out much! (Or not as much as I would’ve liked, anyway). I guess my friends and I were overwhelmed by the big change in our lives that we spent the majority of our first year trying to find our feet. We didn’t start going to clubs and parties until towards end of the year. As you can see from the photos, when I did go out, I had a bloody good time! I wish I could turn the clocks back and do it all over again. Go out, surround yourself with good people, have fun, LOOK AFTER EACH OTHER.
There’s more to student life than drinking:
Don’t forget that you can say NO to clubbing and parties if it’s not for you (or if you’ve ran out of money and can’t afford to go out. Or more importantly, if you’ve got a deadline looming). Don’t feel pressured in to doing anything, you won’t get judged for it. Everyone will be far too wrapped up in themselves! You do you, this is YOUR experience. Try and get involved with other fun things to do. As an alternative, find out what things are happening at the Student Union. There’s usually events on like gigs, amateur plays, karaoke, comedy club, magic shows, speed dating, film nights, fundraisers, etc. There will be a lot of other things to do around the city too.
Line your stomach:
Don’t be like me and learn the hard way. Toast, chips, or a box of Creme Eggs, evidently. Anything.
Get on the good side of your tutors:
Uni isn’t all about going OUT OUT. Yeah. I know, right? Obviously, make sure you go to your classes, if only to get your tutors sussed out. Especially that cold-hearted one who seems to be really hard to impress.
Toughen up:
Nothing will prepare you for the blunt feedback from your tutors. Not sure if it was because I was on a Fashion Marketing course, but most of them didn’t mince their words. It was B R U T A L. OMG. Don’t expect them to sugar coat anything for you. But don’t take it to heart either, they only mean well and it will drive you to do better. Tough love and all that.
Be prepare to hear the fire alarm. A lot:
The very first day in halls, the fire alarm went off in the whole building. I opened my door to see one of my room mates run past me holding a toaster that was on fire. Cartoon style. That was a taster of things to come. From that day on, throughout my whole time living there, the fire alarm went off 3-4 times a week. People were setting them off in the middle of the night for ~bantz~. It was annoying. I didn’t sleep much. I got cranky. Bring ear plugs. (but obvs don’t ignore it if it’s a real fire!!)
Speak up:
It’s not easy living with other people no matter how old you are, and there will be a lot of things that’ll annoy you. Like your flat mate using your cutlery to unclog the sink. Or your flat mate setting off the fire alarm on purpose at 4am for fun. Or your flat mate being sick in the hallway and expecting someone else to clean it up. Yeah, ha ha ha ha, that shit’s funny to begin. Ha ha ha you’ve been sick on the carpet. Yay. Now clean it up, ya minger! Speak up if something isn’t right whether it’s in halls or in class. Don’t suffer in silence, it will only make you miserable. I’ve seen it first hand where shitty things have driven people to live back home. If you’re unhappy with something, it’s time to get your sass on. 
You WILL eat well:
I couldn’t live on pasta and pizza all day every day. It makes me feel sluggish. Ramen is full of E-numbers and ready meals aren’t that cheap anymore. You best learn to cook some decent meals.
The skill of pulling all-nighters:
No one will be able to get away from this. You will be pulling several all nighters at one point, it’s inevitable. Especially those who are studying creative courses. (4 trend books? Finished and bound? Fuckin ell, why did I leave this until the last minute?!). All nighters will be painful and it will hurt. Nibble on biscuits, put Netflix on, and drink coffee to get you through it. (Or if you were a first year in 2003, that would’ve been biscuits, Quizmania, and coffee). Don’t be a loser and get your work done on time. You can reward yourself with a nap when you’re done.
tyne bridge newcastle upon tyne
Explore the city:
Fall in love with the city, it’s your home now. Support local businesses, visit museums and galleries, and go to the markets at weekends. The fresh air will do you good!
Learn life skills:
It’s funny but looking back, I was a naive and sheltered little madam that didn’t know how to do much for herself. I was sheltered, scrappy and didn’t know the value of things. But living away from home has taught me all of that. I learned to budget, pay bills, do laundry, keep on top of house chores, cook a lot healthy meals, timekeeping, balance my social and work life, be assertive, learn when to say no, be super organised, be independent, be competitive and driven, be kind and open-minded.
I graduated in 2009 with a 2:1, it was a tough year but… despite complaining every day and wishing my time away, and counting the days until final year was over, I’d do it all over again in a heart beat. 
University has carved me in to the person that I’ve become. A person that I am proud to be. It was an important four years of my life and the entire experience has opened my mind to a lot of things which has stayed with me, even now over a decade on! 
I’m soooo jealous of my little sister, she’s going to be studying a course that she’s fiercely passionate about and I know how much she is going to enjoy it! Good luck, pal!
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5 thoughts on “How To Survive Your First Year At University

  1. Oh, the nostalgia when reading this post!! Love the flashback vibe and your advice is really good for people just starting out. I know uni isn't for everybody but it really formed the best years of my life, I'd do it again in a heartbeat 🙂 xx

  2. Yes girl! Such a great post for those going to uni in the next few weeks! I'm starting my third year at the beginning of next month and so much of this resonates with me and is just so so true, although I have yet to pull an all nighter, but I doubt that'll last too long once third year has really set in! x


  3. Ah I started in 2006 and most of my uni photos look just like these! No flip out viewfinders back then!
    Definitely relate to the toughen up comment, I remember receiving my first bit of criticism and crying : /

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