Thursday, 22 August 2013

Advice for my 18 year old self

It's not long now until the new academic year starts and many of you will be packing your laptops and your lipstick and heading off to university. For many of you this will be the first time you have ever really had to fend for yourself, and it can be quite a daunting process.

A few years back (OK 11 years back) I was in exactly the same position and there are many things I wish I had known before I went,  so I thought I would put together a list of things I wish I could go back and tell my 18 year old self. I was cripplingly shy when I first went to uni and I think if I had done some of these things earlier on it would of made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable.

1. Keep your bedroom door open (when appropriate obvs)
When I first got to halls I shut myself away, when what I should have done was keep my bedroom door open so that when any of my flat mates passed they would feel like it was OK  to stop and chat. Makes it much easier to makes friends if they know you're actually in the flat!

2. Throw yourself into freshers week!
Take part in everything, go to all of the fairs and meet ups so you know what's what around campus. Don't wait a year down the line to realise you could have been going to an amazing bar or be part of an amazing club!

3. Join some clubs/sports
When I was at school I was really good at netball and I knew I wanted to play at uni, but my shyness got in the way and really held me back when I was playing and after my first year I gave up. Don't do that!

4. Smile!
This might sound a bit daft and obvious but if you're as shy as I was then you will understand that smiling is not always the easiest thing to do. But I promise you now if you walk into a lecture theater or class room with a smile on your face the person you sit next to will be much more likely to start a conversation, and you never know they might turn out to be your best friend!

5. Go to the library in the evening
Top tip! The library is a much more relaxed place in the evening, getting a computer is so much easier and you can have a little chat without being told to shhhh!

6. Frequent your Student Union bar
There's loads of cool stuff that goes on in the union bars on campus so even if you aren't a heavy drinker like I wasn't it's still a great place to show your face and meet loads of new people.

7. Don't stress over your first year
It's easy to get bogged down when you first start uni as there isn't anyone nagging you to do your course work, so if you're a conscientious student like I was it's very easy to stress over little things and miss out on all the great stuff going on around you. This isn't to say don't work hard but you can play hard too! 

8. Take advantage of tutorials/office hours
As tutorials on my course were optional, I chose the option of not attending. Big mistake, as even if you don't have any issues or anything to talk about it's still good to catch up with your tutor. They have so many students that it's easy to get lost in the crowd, but if you make the effort with them they will do the same in return and they'll remember you when it comes to placements and extra activities to get involved in.

9. Work placement year
If you are doing a course that offers a work placement year then DO IT!! I didn't and man did I regret that when it came to entering the real world. The year's experience you gain on these placement years are invaluable when it comes to finding a job at the end of your degree. I went for so many jobs that I just missed out on after 3 rounds of interviews because of experience. Not doing a placement year is my biggest regret about uni, that and not picking a longer course :-) 

10. If it scares you, do it!
Within reason obviously! If you feel like you want to join in with something but you're scared to put yourself forward for it, just do it! I promise you will feel better once you have made the first move and will be glad you did, even if it doesn't work out you've got another experience to add to your growing list!

11. Get a job!
I wanted to stop at 10 but this one felt important. When I went to uni I kept my weekend job at home, big mistake! This meant that I missed out on loads of things that went on at the weekend, all my flat mates knew pretty much everyone in our halls and I was just known as 'the other one' and I hated it. In my second year I got an evening job during the week so that meant I didn't miss out on any of the fun as I always made sure I worked on the boring nights when nothing was happening and my weekends were free to spend with my friends! 

I hope these little tit bits of advise help you some if you're about to take your first scary steps into the big wide world. If you've been there done that and have somethings you'd like to add feel free to leave a comment.

P.S. make sure you stock up on Pot Noodles and such like, as learning to cook can take time :-)

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