I thought I’d write a post on how to survive university as the start of a new term is just around the corner. I’ve already written how to survive your first year out of university however some of you might need the good old wisdom of someone who started university five years ago. YES FIVE YEARS AGO, I’m old AF. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t the best student, but I wasn’t the worst and whilst I’m not recommending or promoting mediocracy, I am trying to teach you the importance of working hard in your next three years but more importantly having fun (I will not say work hard, play hard). I’m also going to omit any of my university photos as they are god awful…
Join a society
My biggest tip which I can’t stress enough. When I look back on it, the majority of my skills, friends and amazing moments all came from joining a society. I joined the cheerleading society, something I did on a whim because my flatmate wanted to join and it turned into something that has been one of the biggest parts of my life. I’ve made friends for life, developed some transferable skills and achieved things I never thought I could, like rocking an amazing quiff. Try as many as you want in the beginning as some of the ones you originally thought of passing up may turn into cherished memories or your new life long hobbies.
Get an internship (if you want)
This isn’t something you 100% need to do during your time at university, myself;f and many of my friends didn’t do it. Half of the time we don’t know what the hell we’re doing or what we want to do so thinking of an internship is not on the forefront of your mind and that’s okay. For those of you who have even the slightest inkling of what you want to do, get an internship during the long three months of summer holiday you get (I’ll try not to cry) and make use of your time. You won’t really be able to or want to go back to an unpaid five day a week 6-month internship post-uni. Once you’re making that dollar it’s hard to go back to nothing and then there’s some of us who genuinely can’t just quit their jobs even if it will benefit them in the long run. Do it now, it’ll help you either get ahead in your field or realise that job/industry isn’t for you.
Take up volunteer work
You have about 10 contact hours a week… maximum. Once you’re out of those student gates it’s 40 hours minimum and you’ve got a whole load of stuff that needs to be done once you get home every evening at 5:30. Volunteering is hard when you have a full-time job so start now and start building up that CV whilst you have your time and the body that bounces back on two hours sleep. I use Do-It to help find volunteering opportunities near me.
Get a job ya bum
Not everyone does this and not everyone has to. I didn’t get a job in my first year because I wanted to focus solely on having fun however in my second and third year I got low hour part-time jobs. This gave me an extra income because I was so bloody bad at managing my student loan and it gave me transferable skills to add to my CV. If you don’t get an internship, or work experience or do any volunteering you’ve pretty much got a blank piece of paper with your name on it. So get a part time job, you can transfer any skill such as ‘worked on the tills’ to ‘numerate’ and ‘works well under pressure’.
“Everyone’s in the same boat” not a truer yet more cliche and overused statement has ever been spoken. But if you live by that mantra then you’ll hopefully breeze through the social side of university and really convince yourself to start networking and building your close set of friends. Not all of your friends come from your halls or your society, they may come from the person you sat next to on the very first day of lectures and said “Hi, I don’t understand a god damn thing” too. Talk, ask questions, smile – do all of this stuff and really push yourself in a situation you normally wouldn’t. Everyone is looking for friends and everyone is IN THE SAME BOAT.
These are all friends I shared my birthday with in Budapest this years, all from uni, but from different years and different parts of my uni experience.
Don’t sweat it
On the opposite end of ‘push yourself’, don’t stress. If you’re going to university solely for that degree and not the experience that comes with it then I, unfortunately, can’t give you advice. If you want to immerse yourself in everything that is university life then don’t sweat it. Your first year doesn’t count, no matter what anyone says (although definitely check that with your uni). Have your fun and get your pass then realise that you’ll have to start knuckling down a little more in the next two years, so have your unlimited fun whilst you can.
Even in your final years, still don’t stress, grades definitely do not define a person and they never will – how much did you stress about your GCSE’s? A-Levels? Not one person has asked me about them since and no one has asked me what I achieved in my degree because no one cares (grad jobs are different and if they’re what you want then look into entry requirements first). With all that being said, try your best without a doubt but if you ever feel like you’re missing out on the fun or teetering on a breakdown, remember they’re just grades and you’re too young and pretty to cry.
Have fun in whatever way you like
“University is the best time of your life” – this isn’t entirely true, it is ONE OF the best times of your life, I’ve had some just as great times since graduating so don’t feel pressured to make it full of bantz or whatever stupid people do. Do have as much fun as you can though, and by that, I mean accepting every opportunity to have fun as opposed to making a false perception of it. Make your own fun, it doesn’t have to be falling out of the SU club every night, but if it is then bloody do it, now is the time. It’s the time in your life where saying yes and just having fun has little repercussions – you can miss your 9am, you can be skint for a few weeks, so do it now whilst you can.
Every point made should help in you having the best time at university, although there’s obviously no guarantee in life. They should also help you grow a little bit as that’s what university is for, grades =/= growing it’s the experiences you have, the opportunities you take advantage of and the learning you experience both in the lecture hall and out. I found out what jobs I could get into through one of my lectures and I also learnt that tequila is the devil all thanks to university, see learning and growth come in all different forms! Have fun kids!
Other things to note:
- Supermarket own vodka does the exact same job as Smirnoff and the like, get the cheapest, it’s all paint stripper at the end of the day
- You can live off of more than noodles, get to ALDI and Iceland and eat like a… average person
- Do the goddamn reading, it really helps fill the gaps where the lectures leave (who would have thought…)
- Be yourself
- Make an effort with fancy dress opportunities otherwise, you’re a fun sponge
- Take your laptop/iPad into lectures to make notes on as it’s ten times faster, just don’t whack the keyboard loudly or leave the sound on on your iPad
- Make sure your cutlery/crockery will stand out unless you want Paul eating his ready meals with your forks
- Sign up to Unidays or Student Beans – you don’t need to buy an NUS, I didn’t and still got ALL the discounts
- Say yes to it all and have fun