A lifestyle blog by a London gal who loves plants, metal, bleaching my hair and Osaka

Monday, 11 October 2021

Things I wish I'd known when I started uni

girl with silver hair sitting on a bed in a university bedroom
When I finished first year of uni ages ago, I wrote a series of advice posts to new students. Now that I've officially graduated and survived 4 whole years of uni... and a few years have passed and I've had some time to reflect on it all, I thought I'd make an updated post. I definitely learnt a lot in uni- all the stereotypical stuff about getting more independent (although I have no idea what I'm doing with my life, I sure as heck know how to change a light bulb or make a call to the landlord when the washing machine breaks) and of course, I learnt Japanese. So here is my advice, and all the things I wish I could say to baby first year Amy, but am instead saying to any readers who are going to uni!

££££//

  • Experiences over things! If it's the choice of going out or buying things, I think experiences are way more valuable
  • The saying 'buy cheap, buy twice' is true sometimes. Especially with shoes. 
  • Track your money!!! Use an app or go old school and write everything down.
  • Have a budget for food, rent, bills and then for fun things
  • Stay in cheap uni accomodation- a lot of people I spoke to opted for expensive accomodation because they didn't want to share a bathroom. But, you likely already share a bathroom at home anyway, and the £20+ a week you'll save buy not getting the posh accommodation with an ensuite will really notice. (I spent mine on G and Ts and vintage jumpers, as any good student should)
  • predrinking. Just saying, it will save you a lot of money.
  • Use your student discount! A student card or the unidays app will get you many discounts
  • Get a rail card if you use the train! £30 will pay for itself pretty quickly if you live far away from home.
  • Work out if the bus pass is good value for money- sometimes the student bus pass is crazily good value, but sometimes the student single tickets are just as cheap!
  • Shop around for phone contracts
  • Get secondhand text books/ sell on your old ones once you're done
  • Secondhand things are just good in general!
  • Save some of your student loan for summer if you won't/ can't get a summer job

socialising//

  • say yes to things! especially at the start when there's a lot of trial events going on
  • talk to everyone
  • Unis have loads of events on all the time- check facebook, eventbrite, your uni's social media
  • Join societies! There are chill ones and creative ones and exercise ones aaand crazy party ones- something for everyone. 
  • Join your course's society- will be an opportunity to get to know your classmates better and people in the other years.
  • Join facebook groups- just check in occasionally, but lots of societies/ your course/ your accommodation will put loads of information about classwork and events on there and sometimes people sell their old books etc. via the course facebook groups (or follow the uni's / societies' social media)
  • *you don't have to drink. Most people will be fine with it! (And if they're not, they're not worth it)
  • Ditto clubbing. Although, try a couple of different places- not everywhere is sticky-floored and play mr brightside and all star on repeat......
  • If you find yourself turning down certain friends' invitations a lot (drinking stuff) try inviting them to daytime things- like brunch. Brunch is underestimated by first years and also lots of places serve brunch until like 4 so it doesn't have to be v early
  • go to free/ cheap gigs, you never know, they might be amazing.

Living with other people//

  • keep your own stuff tidy-  even if no one else seems to... 
  • Try a chart system- chore chart/ chart of who has bought what for the flat
  • bulk buy loo roll etc online or from costco at the start of the year- then you can save money and avoid arguments when you run out

Studying//

  • Studying is what you're there to do~
  • ask older students which modules/teachers are their faves, but take their advice with a pinch of salt 
  • DO THE WORK. It's set for a reason, and if you do the work/ reading/ show up to class, you shouldn't have too many problems when it comes to the exam. And if you've already done the set reading, it helps with essays too.
  • Study/ read a bit every day. Even just 10 minutes
  • Try studying with pals, but be honest- does it actually work well for you? Personally I found discussing content modules and comparing essay plans a couple of days before exams helpful, and practising oral exams, but big hours long "group study" often just turned into chatting.
  • Get your sleep if you want to do better in tests and stuff!
  • Ditto drinking water and staying hydrated. 
  • Talk to your lecturers if you're having problems
  • get rid of netflix (yes, really)
  • keep busy and it will force you to use your time productively. Basically, make sure that you never 'study' while half watching a film and scrolling your instagram feed. Lots of people do it, but it will just waste time because you won't be able to study effectively.
  • use the do not disturb mode on your phone
  • keep to deadlines- a lot of places will drop marks for being late, and it's just not worth it.
  • keep your notes organised (they don't have to be neat, just so you know where to find them when exams and essay time rolls round)

Health//

  • SLEEP-It will hold your life together. Just make sure you get your 8 hours
  • clean your room/ bits of your house little and often- it will save the huge nightmare mouldy clean
  • exercise, even just a walk in the fresh air. You've heard all this before but it's a thing for a reason.
  • Get a dehumidifier if there's mould
  • most unis have free counselling- USE IT. go talk to someone before it gets too overwhelming.
  • FRIENDS are actually really important for mental health too <3 

Food//

  • Learn how to cook omg
  • prepare batch meals and freeze it into individual portions- saves time and money and is flexible.
  • try shopping around- a bigger supermarket (building wise) will have more products and more 'basics'
  • try shopping online- you can split the cost of delivery with your flatmates and supermarkets have free delivery or special offers for your first time shopping online 
  • compare prices per 100g or per 100ml to see what's the best deal
  • try your local market <3

Dissertation!!

  • Get started thinking about potential topics asap! (before final year) you can change topics too
  • do something you're interested in!
  • If you have someone you want to be your supervisor, go ask! Also, you can talk to other academics at your uni for advice too! Most of them will be really happy to talk with you as long as you schedule in advance 
  • Talk about your dissertation to people- get excited and it will keep the ideas percolating around

Job hunting

  • use your uni's careers service- you can have a look as soon as you start uni, just to see what's out there
  • go to networking events/ talks
  • maybe get an internship one summer/ do *something* with your holidays to make yourself stand out
  • get linkedin 

To anyone that's in uni, best of luck!! You got this <3 <3 

I'd also love to hear you guys' advice or things you wish you'd known at uni!
Thanks for reading! -Amy xoxo

How I passed the JLPT N1 // How to settle in/ back to uni asap // my uni room tour //

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