Monday, 19 August 2013

Uni Fever

I'll be heading back to the UK soon to my new University (for a second degree, I don't change universities just for the sake of it!), and my lil' sister is also heading out to the big, cold UK for her studies, so here are my two cents for everyone beginning their studies this autumn.

Freshers' Week is Godsent. Don't miss it, and certainly don't spend it skyping with your friends from home. Get out of your room, smile, and talk to everyone - they are probably as nervous as you are. Even if you're not a party animal, it's an amazing opportunity to meet new people, especially your flatmates with whom you'll be sharing a flat for the next year! Obviously you won't become best friends with everyone, but give people outside your comfort zone a chance, and you may be surprised. By the way, if you get Freshers' Flu (yeah, it's a thing), chamomile tea with a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of honey will work wonders for your sore throat and runny nose.

Don't stick just with people of your own nationality, especially if you're an international student. Most of the times very exclusive cliques form with people of the same nationality, which is not only extremely anti-social, but also you'll miss a hell of a lot of fun. I remember in my previous Uni, there was some British guy trying to make casual conversation with another Cypriot girl. All he got was a prolonged, aggressive stare, at which point the girl turned to her friend and said to her in Greek: 'why is he talking to me?'. So incredibly lame, never mind the very poor manners. The poor guy just turned around, possibly amazed at how rude people can be.

I recently read a similar post on another blog, where the blogger advises her young and inexperienced readers to not stress out about lectures, and that it is okay to skip a couple of them, take long weekends and other similar habits which won't get you a first, and will hardly take you anywhere near a 2i.
Now, I don't say you shouldn't have fun or that you should study from dawn to dusk. But don't skip lectures. You may not think much of it at the time, but it will only end up in tears come exam season. Even if you think going to a particular lecture is completely pointless, there's no way that in that one hour of lecturing you won't gain anything. If you'd stayed at home, you'd be procrastinating in front of your computer screen anyway, and you know it!
Also, I suppose you've heard how they say the first year doesn't count? Well, it kind of does. Although it won't count towards your degree class for most unis, the university still keeps record of your marks and employers may ask for them. Also, going from first year's "it doesn't count" to a second year when your next coursework counts for 20% of your final mark, is a pretty big shock. So do yourself a favour and prepare yourself accordingly during the first year.

Do the readings. Always. As I pointed out above, no matter how pointless you think it is, readings are an excellent way of preparing yourself for lectures (you'll actually understand what the guy at the front of the lecture room is going on about), and it will make coursework writing a lot easier. If you don't have the books from where the readings are from, and they're not online, get to the library ASAP, as there are other students who would want to borrow them as well!

Keep your notes in tact. Even if for some reason you miss some of the notes, get copies of them soon, before you forget all about it. Usually universities put them up online, but this is at the discretion of the lecturer in question. Failing that, copy them off a friend. Whatever you do, keep them in big files in chronological order, and try your best to keep it this way until exam time. Trust me, it will make your life a lot easier and it will save you so much time when you'll want to look up things for courseworks or studying for an exam.

Get involved! Especially if it's your first year, you'll have the least workload compared to other years, and you'll get to meet even more people. Also, it's a good idea to try something new with uni societies and clubs, be it fencing, belly dancing, archery, you name it! Not to mention it's a lot cheaper to do this as part of a student society rather than as an individual. 

I know that 50p pizzas from Tesco sound like a great deal, but they're not. They are really really not. I know you'll probably be cash-strapped but do your best to take care of your body, with healthy(ish) eating, a bit of exercise and a good night's sleep. 

If you'll be living in halls, you know how you have to fill in a form saying if there's anything wrong with your room? DON'T IGNORE IT. If there are cracks on the walls, ink marks on the curtains, or the shower head's broken, write it down, and include as many details as possible. It seems small and unnecessary, but I've heard horror stories of people not getting most of their deposit back because of damages that were there before they moved in. Ideally you could also take pictures (that's what the inspectors do when they come in after you move out to decide how much of your deposit you'll be given back). Better to be safe than sorry. 
Buy budget cutlery, mugs, glasses etc as they'll probably go missing by the end of the year. However, do invest in some nice bed sheets and a good pillow. I know it's not a conventional piece of advice, but if you're going to slave away at the library all day, you might as well get the best night's sleep you can. Plus, there's nothing better than sleeping in clean, fresh bed linen after finishing a huge-ass piece of coursework (extra points if it's a dissertation).

Last but not least, take pictures. Take lots and lots of pictures. University happens for only a limited time for most people, so don't miss the boat, and cherish every minute of it. Plus, when you graduate you'd be glad to be able to go through these pictures with university friends and reminisce about fun (and embarrassing) stories from your time there.

Ah they grow up so fast, don't they?

PS: I know I already said last but not least, but this is important. Call your parents. I don't mean every minute, and I don't mean everyday, but every few days call them up to assure them you're still breathing, ask them how they're doing and request to put your dog on the phone. Trust me, it will make their day. Extra points if you call your grandparents - you'll make their week and I'm talking from experience.
PPS: Pictures were lovingly taken from Pinterest apart from the last one obviously.
PPS2: If you've got more little bits of advice, feel free to share. :-)


  1. Some good advice there! 100% agree with the don't stick with just the people you know/own nationality!

    I think with the whole missing lectures it's a know your limit thing. For me there were some papers I could miss lectures and others I knew I would be in biiiiig trouble if I missed - brings back a memory of waking up suppenly (I forgot to put an alarm on) literally grabbing the closet clothes to me and my bag, running to the train station and only juuuust making the train. It was a horrible morning but I'm so glad I didn't miss that class! haha :)

    Good luck for your second degree!!

  2. thank you Te! yes, acting like a ninja and jumping out of bed when I forgot to set the alarm has been one of my signature moves for far too long! considering lectures it's obvious that unavoidably you'll miss some. It's just that some people miss more lectures than they attend and expect to pass!

    thanks again hon :) xx



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