Tamzin, Wellbeing Champion for the Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service, talks about getting the most out of your experience when starting uni for the first time…
Well it’s here! You’ve aced your A-levels and now the day is upon you – you’re starting uni! Starting university can be very daunting – you may be moving to a new city (whether it’s just around the corner or miles from home), meeting new people and adjusting to a new course.
Living with new people and becoming independent is an important step into becoming who you are. Starting university can be very exciting and also very scary – it’s normal to have a variety of emotions about this new experience. It’s good to keep in mind that everyone is in the same boat and nobody knows anyone.
My 6 top tips!
1. Talk with others
To fully immerse yourself in the university experience, talk to everyone you meet at Freshers’ Week and make sure to get involved with all the different Freshers’ events going on with your new flat mates. If drinking isn’t for you, there are loads of non-alcoholic events taking place as well! There’s a society for everyone and these are also a great way of meeting new and like-minded people! Make a real effort to socialise and spend time with your new flat mates in the first few weeks.
2. Make yourself at home
Make your new room as cosy and homely as you can, as you need to feel comfortable in your own space and this helps to settle in.
Cooking skills are important but you’ll develop them in your own time and if all else fails, Dominos always does ‘Two for Tuesdays’ – it’s even open till 5am!
3. Try to stay away from conflict
The people you live with might turn out to be the group of friends who will still be with you in years to come, or there might be a personality clash and your flat may become a hotbed of passive aggressive post-it notes left on the fridge.
A great way to avoid conflict in your residence is to take turns emptying the bins and to each clean the countertops after you’ve used them. If needs be, make a rota and stick to it.
I made some great friends in my first year flat who I still live with now in third year. I also lived with some people I clashed with, but just know that, if this is the case, you won’t have to live with these people for your entire university experience.
4. Remember to be organised
Being organised will help you to deal with stress. Are you worried about your lectures or first assignments? Read up on your modules – your module handout is your best friend for the year! If you’re still concerned, email your lecturers or talk to your course mates.
5. Attend lectures
Go to your lectures as much as you can. Remember, this isn’t school, so if you don’t attend they won’t give your parents a call, but for £9,000 a year it’s worth going to your one-hour lecture and taking some notes, as otherwise you could quickly fall behind.
The people you live with may all be on the same course or they may all be on different ones. Some of them may have 7 contact hours a week and you may have a 9am start every day. Although this may feel unfair, realise that this is okay and that your timetable does not need to mimic theirs. In fact it can be good to have more in your diary to keep yourself busy!
Take your new laptop or a pen and some paper to your lectures – you will understand the concepts more if you go and will have the opportunity to ask your lecturers any questions you have about the module.
6. Access support
University can be stressful but the important thing is to know that if it all gets too much you don’t have to deal with it on your own. There are ways of accessing support through the university itself such as speaking to one of the Wellbeing Champions, booking a Counselling or Wellbeing appointment, or accessing late-night support such as Nightline.
You can also drop in to Student Support – the Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service provide a Wellbeing Walk-in Service, offering 10-15 minute appointments to talk about support that can be provided for you – there is no problem too big or too small so definitely attend a drop-in if you’d like someone to talk to.
So, what now?
Being a fresher at uni can be difficult but once you’ve found your footing and settled in, got to know your house mates and attended your first few lectures it all begins to fall into place. Before you know it, the first semester will be over and you’ll be chatting with your home friends about your uni exploits!
Contact the Counselling Health & Wellbeing Service
If you are experiencing any kind of emotional distress, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service who can offer support to anybody experiencing any sort of difficulty, however big or small.
The Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service offer booked appointments via an online referral questionnaire, in which friendly, approachable staff can offer you non-judgmental support in a safe and confidential space. They also offer a daily Wellbeing Walk-In Service (3pm-3.45pm: Monday–Friday and Wednesday mornings: 9.30am-10.15am at the Student Support Centre at 50 Park Place)
If you are worried that you are experiencing physical symptoms that may be affecting your health, we strongly advise you to make a GP appointment to discuss this. If you do not already have a GP, please contact NHS Wales on 0845 46 47 or check out their website.
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Tamzin, Wellbeing Champion.
Your Student Life, Supported.
The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice & Money, Careers & Employability, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, Disability & Dyslexia and International Student Support.
The Student Support Centres are located at 50 Park Place, Cathays Campus and Cardigan House, Heath Park Campus. For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.