So, you’ve started university. A rite of passage for many young people, the prospect of living away from home for the first time can be quite daunting. The juggling act of settling into the first few weeks of your course, getting acquainted with the new environment, and being surrounded by strangers, all whilst having to fend for yourself may be a shock to the system, and you are bound to experience some teething problems. Please find in this article some useful advice from someone who has been there and bought the t-shirt.
Make a budget and stick to it. While it’s tempting to go on a spending spree when your first loan hits, make a realistic budget first so that you know what’s left after factoring out the rent, essentials, and bills. You might find an app helpful, or a simple spreadsheet, whichever works best for you.
Go shopping; Make a list of the essentials and whatever you fancy eating for the next week. It’s best to shop on a weekly basis and to be realistic about what you’re going to want to eat, how much you’ll need, and what you can cook! For example, a pack of 15 eggs, unless you’re sharing, is a waste. You’ll have a limited amount of space in your kitchen so planning is key. Buy stuff you can freeze as it will save you money! Make sure everyone chips in for the flat essentials like washing up liquid, sponges, toilet paper, etc. Any student will agree that an abundance of tea towels is crucial!
Register with a local GP and dentist. This is especially important if you’re far from home
Socialise as much as you can before your course starts with your flatmates. Go to freshers events together, explore Swansea, and be open to meeting new people to develop your social skills and confidence.
Join sports clubs and societies that appeal to you. Go to the freshers fayre, and if a particular sport catches your eye, or there’s a society you’d be interested in joining- go for it! Don’t be scared to branch out on your own.
There are countless extra-curricular activities to participate in such as Waterfront, which may increase employability prospects, so keep an open mind.
The first year may not count towards your degree in terms of grades, but in every other aspect, it counts a whole lot. It’s about building your skill set and confidence in your own learning before it starts to get serious further into your degree. Whether you’ve been set on a career path all your life, or are beginning your degree completely clueless as to what the future holds for you, there are things you can do that will be invaluable to your personal growth and you’ll be glad you laid the groundwork for latter years.
Go to your lectures and seminars. You might find the powerpoint on BlackBoard, but you’ll likely miss some important information. Get what you’re paying for!
Do the reading early, reading up on what you will be studying before you start will give you a head start in studies, and will enhance your understanding of the subject
Start your assignments early; It’s easier said than done, but it will lower your stress levels immensely and you’ll be able to relax afterwards. If your course is essay-based, starting earlier means you can finetune your ideas enabling you to get higher marks.
Utilise your academic mentor and professors. They have office hours for a reason! Use your initiative, but if you need help, sending an email can’t hurt.
Talk about any problems you’re experiencing with friends, and check on them too. We have to look after ourselves and each other in this world.
If you’re struggling to cope, don’t isolate yourself. The Students’ Union Advice and Support centre provides resources you to help your mental and physical health whilst studying, as well as access to additional support like counseling and advice on money and housing issues. Click here for more details.
Help can also be found with the University’s Wellbeing service, a branch of Student Services. For information head here.
No one’s university experience is the same. One piece of advice that applies to all, though, is you get out what you put in. Swansea University has a lot to offer, and so do you!
By Harriet Freeman