Moving to uni can feel a bit like throwing yourself into the deep-end. A lot of what is ahead is unknown, and that can be a little daunting if it’s your first time away from home. But it’s also super exciting, because you’re starting a new chapter, and while it’s a big change, it’s a change for the better. There are a lot of mistakes you’re going to make along the way – that’s inevitable. You won’t be able to foresee everything, but here are a few things I would say to 1st-year-me, if I had to do it all over again…
There is no need to rush in to everything in your first year. Sure, join societies, throw yourself into the community and lifestyle that is campus-life, but don’t get in over your head. You have time – years, in fact. Join some clubs, if you don’t like it, then leave and join something new – you don’t have to have your social standing down to a perfect recipe within your first 6 months, it takes time to fall into the right group of friends. But the best thing about uni? It’s a community of thousands of students who are in exactly the same position as you. So chill out, everything will fall into place.
If you’re not getting HD’s (high distinctions) in your first Semester, it’s not the end of the world. If anything, your first year is to set the groundwork for the rest of your degree – just because you hit some speed humps doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong degree. University degrees aren’t easy, they are the highest form of education you can receive, so don’t be so critical of your marks in the first year – you’re here to be educated, you can’t ace everything, you don’t know everything. Relax.
Some of the best friends you will ever make are at university. Why? Because it’s the opposite of high school. If you’re from a small town (like me), you’ll be pretty used to seeing the same people day-in and day-out without any choice in it. Welcome to university – you get to choose your friends, and there is a club and society on campus for every hobby and interest under the sun. Get social, the best friends you will ever make are here, you just need to go and find them.
Coming to university is fun. It’s exciting, there are new friends, new hobbies you can take on, and hopefully an interesting degree that challenges and inspires you. But there is a whole other personal side to uni, and that personal growth stays with you as you transition into adult life. You learn a lot about yourself, and by that I mean: you realise what people you’d like to have in your life, you develop very specific interests, you will make mistakes that you will vow never to make again, and you’ll develop an entirely new respect for the people that raised you. It’s part of becoming an adult, and it shapes you into the person you’re going to become. This is a good thing, so let it happen.
If there is one thing I could tell myself, that’s more important than all the rest, it would be this: you can’t plan everything. Things will take a course that may at times make you feel like you’re not in control, but that’s okay. Let it happen, because as cliché as it sounds, it’s happening to put you on the right path. The best years of your life are ahead of you, and you’re only at the start.