“FIRST YEAR DOESN’T EVEN COUNT YOU ONLY NEED 40% PERCENT TO PASS” Is something you’ll hear once a week during your time in university, and though it’s true on paper, first year lays the foundations of how the rest of university experience will be. I’ve compiled a list of all the mistakes me and my mates have made at uni and how to get through them so that, when you make all these mistakes, you know how to handle them.
1. You’ll buy into the Freshers week hype.
A week of partying, drinks for a quid and that fella from Made in Chelsea making a club apperance. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? I’d personally say it’s overrated but I know people that have spent a small fortune on a freshers wristband only to go to a couple of events. Put it this way, you’re moving to a new city with no friends and not much money and have a week of inductions. Why commit yourself to a wristband when you can just pay as you go? That way the pressure to go to as many of these events as possible is gone and you can just enjoy where the night takes you. My best nights during freshers were at clubs that weren’t holding any events, because lets face it, organised fun isn’t very fun.
Who needs Gaz from Geordie Shore when you have Joanne the Scammer?
2. You’ll call the first people you meet on Freshers your friends then find out they are proper freaks.
So you’ve made your way through every facebook page and group chat desperately seeking someone who is on your course, you find a bunch and think great i can commit the next three years of my life to these people. Then you find yourself in-between Rebecca (who only answers to Bex) flashing her tits in Level for McNuggets and Rosemary who has just discovered mandy but yet to find deodorant. Don’t be scared to make friends without commitment. That way, you can get on with everyone and work out who you wanna spend most of your time with. And if those mates you’ve had for two minutes aren’t okay with you having mates outside the flat, then those are the proper freaks I’m talking about.
Some of y’all need this
3. You’ll run out of money by week four.
You’ll get that first loan instalment and pull a Floyd Mayweather; strippers on your payroll, treating yo’self, then a few weeks in and in the words of McGregor, ‘You owe money’. In my first year I used and used and used my card and NEVER checked my balance because did I really need to? two grand is a lot of money, there’s no way that I could possiTRANSACTION DECLINED. Wait what? After you realise your account is £0.03 and you’re in the middle of a night out (true story) you’ll be regretting that worm on a string or danny devito cardboard cutout you bought. What I’m trying to say is that you really need to try and budget. Some suggestions I have is switching to a student account with an overdraft facility, ignoring the voice in your head that says “treat yo’ self” (maybe listen to it when you really need those shoes) and please note how quickly fast food bills rack up. When I got a bank statement from my first year, 50% of the outgoings were food places.
Student loan last seen in Bierkeller
4. You’ll buy brand new books on your reading list and use them once.
The inner Elle Woods in me loves to be organised and on top of things, especially my reading list. In my first semester I bought a £30 book brand new and slammed it proudly on the desk (my beautiful lil brick). My now good mate James was like ‘oh did I we need that for today?’ He then whips out an Ipad, searches into google ‘FREE PDF’ and gets it up in seconds. I swear to god I had such a cob on. In uni, there are books you really need and that will be useful and others you’ll look at once and never again (those being the most expensive, just your luck). To get round this, Free PDFs, the library, and second hand amazon books are your best friends. Avoid superstores like Waterstones as they are super expensive and you’ll be sound.
These books aren’t as dusty as my first year reading list
5. You’ll avoid ‘wider reading’ like the plague.
You have enough shit to deal with being a student; Assignments, deadlines, presentations and most importantly how you’re going to support your night out with a tenner. Who has time for wider reading, right? NO BITCH. I really wish I had spent more time in my first year reading around my subject, reading some more work from others I liked and what critics has to say. If you do this, your overall knowledge of your subject will grow and you’ll never struggle to find references for essays. Some reading I would suggest for EVERY student is an anthology for your subject (for example for English, ‘Literary Theory: An Anthology’) and Get Your Shit Together by Sarah Knight, it’s such a useful self help book which will help motivate you through your first year and so forth.
THE TOILET DOOR IN THE PILGRIM DOESN’T COUNT AS WIDER READING
6. You’ll say ‘I’ll do my assignment early’ and then do an all-nighter to hand it in at 5am, three hours before the deadline.
I was quite organised I must say in my first year, except when I was not. Suddenly you have 3 deadlines this coming Friday and you haven’t even started that essay for that module you can’t stand. You think oh everyone does nighters it looks fun lol library at 3am with twenty Redbulls #unilife. I can honestly say from my experience it’s painful to get through and your work will be most likely, incoherent. How can you produce something decent with the stress of a deadline in the next hour? You Can’t. Aim to have assignments in the week before. That way you avoid the group chat stress from course mates and it gives you a week to proof read. That’s another thing that is important, proof reading. Stupid spelling and grammar mistakes makes your work as a whole look lazy and thrown together. I know it’s tedious to read through it (Trust me, I’m doing an English degree, I KNOW TEDIOUS) but you can always copy and paste it into google translate and play it back out loud, in english, obviously.
When you have an essay due this week but the Pilgrim has £1 Carlsberg
7. You’ll get dead offended when your lecturer tells you your work is shit (The more red scribble, the shittier).
You’ve just spent 5 hours in Labour. Each contraction forming paragraphs and the closest thing to an epidural is the Starbucks Coffee machine in the Aldam Robarts Library. Congrats! It’s an essay! And then when you get it back from your tutor, it’s a low 2:2 covered in red ink? HOW DARE YOU DO THAT TO MY BABY. Sometimes tutors can be quite intense with their feedback, especially if you are doing a degree in the Arts like Creative Writing. There’s been times when I’ve poured my heart and darkest emotions into a poem to get it back and have CLICHE written all over it. What I’m trying to say is you need to learn to take Criticism, to the point that you yearn to be Criticised. Maybe sometimes you need to go away and lick your wounds, but at the end of the day, your tutors know what they are talking about and if they constantly told you how great your work is, it’s not going to make it any better, after all they’ve been out in the ‘real world’ and managed to survive it; I’d seriously listen to them.
8. You’ll have chicken and chips for dinner. All the fucking time.
My mates in halls sometimes had the odd ‘Mexican Night’ or Sunday Roast. But most of the time the idea of washing 7 pans, a cutting board and all those plates may just be too much. Frozen food is cheap, easy, and all you need is a baking tray and 10 minutes. But, your body will not be able to perform both physically and mentally on chicken dippers. Bland frozen food will make you more likely to crave sweets and fast food which will make you feel so shit. I’m not trying to pull a Jamie Oliver and take away your turkey twizzlers, I’m just saying a cheap cook book and Nando’s spice rubs can make a world of a difference, Aldi do really cheap fruit & veg and Tesco Express is where tories shop. Eating well-ish and having food with some flavour doesn’t have to be expensive, so at least try and did I mention how boss Nando’s spice rubs are?
Where did all my loan go lol
9. You’ll think lecture notes is the same thing as your lecture.
You’ve woke up at 9:45 with a raging hangover. Your lecture starts at 10. No chance. The lecture notes are on Blackboard/Canvas which is basically the same thing as the lecture, right? Then you never read the lecture notes, never go the seminar because you missed the lecture and now you’re 17 weeks behind although a semester is only 12 weeks long. You’re paying over £9000 a year for University, that means every lecture costs about £50. Get out of bed and go get your money’s worth. Plus once you’re in the lecture it’s not even that bad; even if you feel you haven’t took a single thing in, you’re in a better frame of mind to fill in the blanks.
What a wholesome lecture x
10. You’ll shag your flatmate
At your age, you’re going to have a lot of urges. You’re going to want to take off your clothes, and touch each other. But if you do touch each other, you will get Chlamydia…and die.
If you’re like me and you’ve had a fella longer than you’ve had GCSE’s, this won’t apply to you (I hope). I know people that have had this experience and not one of them has found it useful or invigorating. You’re a hormonal student living alone independently and once you’ve had a few one pound shots you believe Harvey, 19 from Shropshire when he says he’s ‘not a fuckboy’ and ‘has a clean dick’. You think this flat mates with benefits thing is going to work out until Harvey has told the rest of the flat about you two and you’re certain that itch is chlamydia. Please boys and girls, be responsible with your body after a drink, be safe and if you’re going to sleep with strangers, know your sexual health status. Sometimes STD’s don’t have symptoms and if they aren’t cured, they can make you infertile. It’s better to be safe than sorry and there is no shame in being sensible.
11. You’ll get homesick and/or experience grief
In my first year I went through grief which resulted in me missing a tonne of lectures and avoiding uni work at all costs which made everything much worse. It wasn’t until my personal tutor lured me into her office with tea and biscuits that I started to sort myself out. I had a good cry and managed to arrange counselling with the student well being team. You’re paying too much money to suffer in silence, so go speak to your personal tutor, well being team or anyone staff you trust. Of course you can speak to your friends but there is no shame in making your tutors know how you feel, whether you just feel some home sickness or perhaps what you think could be a serious mental health problem. Your tutors won’t treat you any differently and you’ll more than likely get a support network put in place for you.
12. You’ll try to be too cool for school and avoid any social events that don’t include drinking.
Everyone on my degree will say that they wish they got involved in more things and much sooner than they did. University is not like school or Mean Girls where being in band was ‘mingy’ or The Mathletes got bullied (Kevin G deserved better). If you have a hobby, whether it’s a sport or aggressive socialism, there is a society for it (at least in LJMU anyway). Societies also have socials which is basically an organised piss up so you can get your drinking in. As well as societies, there are working lunches, open mic nights, paid work experience and so much more to get involved. They can only make your university experience more pleasant, improve your performance in your studies or look incredible on a CV. Be yourself, finds what works for you and throw yourself in at the deep end. It’s your university experience that shapes who you are going to be in the real world, so make sure you do a bit more than student nights and show up to the odd lecture. Do that and you should be sound.
Being bevvied in a haunted house in Wales was the highlight of my first year