Back2School: Six Snippets of Advice for Those Starting University

By Taran Ahluwalia, second year student at Warwick University

By Taran Ahluwalia, second year student at Warwick University

So it’s getting to that time of year again – almost like that Sunday feeling, summer is over and it’s time say farewell to the holidays. This time, for those of you heading to university, you’ll be returning to education without the familiar faces of your friends and teachers, and for the most of you, living away from home for the first time. As you read this, it’s likely that the prospect of so many new beginnings excites you, but is also quite daunting, so here are some words of advice to ease you into the world of university...

1.      You will make friends.

If you were the most popular kid in school or preferred to stick to a small group, it is guaranteed that at university, you will make friends in no time. Extrovert, introvert or anything in between, you’ll find that one of the great things about university is its diversity. Unlike high school or college, with the combination of the people you live with, course mates and society members at university, there will always be like-minded people to spend your time with – no matter who you are.

Source: Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/11/best-worst-universities-in-the-uk_n_3904531.html)

Source: Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/11/best-worst-universities-in-the-uk_n_3904531.html)

2      Join societies!

This brings me to the important point of joining societies. I understand that in your fresher’s week(s) you will be bombarded with information and invitations to attend various events and talks, but one thing I would definitely recommend attending is your university’s societies’ fair. Whilst reading about the several societies your university houses is unmistakeably useful, to be able to speak those in the society is incredibly beneficial and will direct you to the right societies for you. Most popular societies run a tour abroad (usually in the Spring term), and if you really want to make your first year, then I would definitely recommend going on one. I went to Prague in March and it was undoubtedly one of the best experiences I had in first year. Societies are an excellent way of making new friends with people you share a common interest/hobby with, so get joining!

Source: Peter Durant (http://www.e-architect.co.uk/england/warwick-students-union)

Source: Peter Durant (http://www.e-architect.co.uk/england/warwick-students-union)

3.      Don’t worry about cooking

As a student going into their second year, I am grateful to say I had an incredible first one (and that I don’t know anybody who didn’t). However, I strongly remember that my biggest worry about living away from home for the first time was the aspect of self-catering…I can admit that cooking wasn’t my strong suit. But do not fear – it still isn’t. I lived in a flat of eleven, and I can safely say that only four of us would be deemed as ‘good’ cooks, whatever those are, anyway. Freezing food my mum had cooked, Birdseye, and many a takeaway got me through – if I can do it, you’ll definitely be able to.

I promise you can eat healthier lunches, too

I promise you can eat healthier lunches, too

4.     Social media – use it to your advantage

One thing I cannot stress enough is how much of an important factor social media was to me with regards to settling into university. Joining the Facebook groups for your course and accommodation is beneficial to already making a ton of friends without even realising. It’s likely that there are Facebook Messenger group chats too, so try and join the appropriate ones for your course and accommodation. If not, make it yourself! You’ll soon learn that, like you, nobody really knows what they’re doing, and soon enough you’ll be chatting to many freshers who share the same thoughts as you. This way, when you get to university, just like when you’d usually return to school or college, you will, in fact, be greeted by familiar faces.

Source: TIME (http://time.com/4126945/facebook-most-used-words-vonvon/)

Source: TIME (http://time.com/4126945/facebook-most-used-words-vonvon/)

5.      Read ahead

For those of you doing text-based subjects such as English, for example, your syllabus should be online right now, so my advice is to go ahead and read before you get to university. Everybody reads at their own pace, but as an English student myself, one thing I definitely regret is not reading ahead in the summer when I had the chance. Whilst first year, for most courses, does not count towards your final grade (relief), you’ll still want to do well whilst enjoying the new lifestyle that university brings. Therefore, I highly recommend reading ahead in the summer so you can focus on getting settled into university and enjoying your time as a fresher with your new friends and flatmates – no one wants to spend fresher’s frantically reading Greek literature for their seminar next morning. 

Source: University of Cambridge (http://www.crp.polis.cam.ac.uk/research/books)

Source: University of Cambridge (http://www.crp.polis.cam.ac.uk/research/books)

6.      You are not alone

As cheesy as it sounds, no one goes into university feeling completely full of confidence, without a worry in the world. Everyone has their doubts and its likely many others share yours, no matter how niche they may seem. The unknown may be daunting, but before you know it, you’ll want to be a fresher forever (trust me). 

I am now reminiscing about freshers' last year (it is just as good as people make it out to be)

I am now reminiscing about freshers' last year (it is just as good as people make it out to be)

Now, with that in mind, go and enjoy university! It’s far less daunting than it sounds.