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A letter to my first year self

Dear First Year Self,

It’s me, your three-years-later (and three-years-wiser) self. First thing’s first, welcome to uni and what will most likely be some of the best years of your life!

First year seems like a decade ago, and with hindsight being a wonderful thing, here’s a few tips so that you can be prepared for the things I wasn’t prepared for, and make your university experience even more amazing.

#1: Push yourself to step outside your comfort zone 

I know three years seems like a long time, but believe me, it isn’t. So make the most of it! Push through your shyness, and step outside of your comfort zone every now and then, and you’ll have the time of your life.

Attend events you would never normally attend, or go to SU evenings that sound a little wacky, and you’ll meet people who’ll become some of your best friends. And even though university-organised events might seem a little daunting, attend them anyway!

I regret not attending all the events I could have done, and the ones I did attend ending up being amazing. From careers events to free food events, to puppy-stroking events (it’s a real thing, I promise), the events are all there to help you find your feet, so there’s literally no need to be nervous.

#2: Join more societies!

I joined one society (the rowing team), but perhaps my biggest regret is not trying out more societies and clubs.

Being a part of the rowing team made my university experience one I will never forget. I gained confidence, friends, and it’s something that continues to impress employers as well!

I can only imagine how much more amazing my time at university would have been if I’d joined just one or two more societies. There honestly is a society for everyone, from academic societies, to food societies, to sports teams, there are just so many different exciting things to be a part of.

So join the societies that interest you, and try them all out! You’ll meet like-minded friends, and you’ll develop skills you might never have even thought about developing.

#3: Get some experience alongside your degree

I know it seems like you’re super busy, and like you can’t find the time to work alongside your degree, but try to gain some work experience, as well as good grades. It might mean a few hours less of watching Netflix each week, but when it’s time to enter the real world, you’ll be grateful for the experience, trust me.

If you need a little help finding volunteer work, part-time roles, work experience or placements, the careers team are organising three fairs in the autumn term, so keep an eye for those! You’re bound to found some amazing opportunities at these fairs, and they’re pretty fun to attend too!

The summer of your final year will be a mad rush, with graduates all over the country trying to find jobs, and if you’ve got at least some work experience, you’ll have a much better chance of landing an exciting role.

#4 Think ahead!

Not many people know exactly what they want to do after finishing uni, and that’s okay, you don’t have to! But don’t completely dismiss any thoughts about the future!

Your graduation is going to come sooner than you might think, and if you’ve given it a little thought beforehand, and perhaps prepared a little for life after university, the transition from student life to working life is going to be much easier.

Uni may be good fun, and by all means, make the most of the fun times, but every now and then, just take a moment to stop and remember why you went to uni in the first place – to broaden your prospects! So throughout your degree, think ahead a little, about what you want to do after you graduate, and what you can do alongside your degree to make it happen.

If you’re completely stuck for ideas, but you want to start planning ahead, contact the careers team! That’s one thing I definitely didn’t do soon enough.

#5 Look after yourself!

Let’s face it, the student lifestyle isn’t always the healthiest, especially not in your first year. It’s easy to go wild with dozens of packs of noodles, and cheap cocktails, but believe me, if you don’t look after yourself, your health is going to plummet and ‘fresher’s flu’ will last all year.

You’ve probably seen those memes, the ones that compare a happy and glowing ‘me in first year’ to a somewhat bedraggled ‘me in third year’. But if you look after yourself, at least a little, you’ll finish third year looking just as glamourous as the day you first started uni.

Look after yourself and you’ll look good and feel good, which, trust me, is going to make everything easier. The last thing you want is to be feeling under the weather when you’re rushing to finish your dissertation, or even applying for jobs.

Hopefully, these tips will help you survive your first year, make the most of your university experience, and help you become a super-employable graduate.

Good luck, first year self, and enjoy yourself!

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Date published

25 Sep 2019

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