Living in the Channel Islands can seem like a bit of a dream world. You feel safe, you know everyone and are surrounded by gorgeous beaches and scenery. For these reasons, moving to a capital city can be quite daunting and can definitely make you feel nervous about taking the leap.
After finishing my International Baccalaureate, I decided I needed and deserved a break. I was lucky enough to go to stunning places like Fiji, Australia and Madagascar but nowhere quite compared to life on Guernsey. When you’re at school, it can feel like teachers are pushing you to apply to Uni as soon as you physically can and I personally found it a bit overwhelming. Taking a year out made me feel more confident about leaving home and also allowed me to earn a bit more money before setting off to Cardiff. When I got here, it turns out way more people than I ever expected took a year out of education before Uni and I truly believe it prepared me in many different ways before leaving home.
From speaking to my friends who had already done a year at Uni, I got many different bits of advice (some good and some bad). I decided the best advice was from my amazing best friend Katie from Jersey (we manage to put inter-Island rivalry aside) and my dad, who also went to Cardiff University.
I’ve put together the advice I found the most useful during my first few weeks:
1- Go to the freshers fairs- even if it is just to stock up on free pens. My flat and I all went together and it was really good to learn what they were interested in and look at societies and sports I would not have normally chosen.
2- You WILL get ill so be prepared– sadly freshers flu is inevitable and when I got it I was so thankful my mum had fully stocked up my wash bag with cold and flu tablets.
3- Have a budget for the first few weeks- but don’t worry if you go over it. It can be hard to try and figure out exactly how much you will need and what you will spend during the first few weeks. I budgeted myself more than I thought I would need and was thankful as I went out for drinks and food with my new friends a lot during the first few weeks.
4- Join at least 1 society and try something different- I joined Bioscience netball in my first year and made so many friends this way. It kept me busy when I was feeling homesick and was so much fun. This year I decided to join rowing, which is more out of my comfort zone but I’m glad I took the leap and absolutely love it. Cardiff offer loads of “give it a go sessions” which allow you to try loads of different sports without having to commit.
5- Go and explore- Cardiff is a beautiful city and there are so many amazing places to discover. As a break from revision last year, I would take a walk around Bute or Roath park and would try to find somewhere I hadn’t seen before.
6- …and of course… keep up with your uni work- it’s weird going from having parents and teachers breathing down your neck to having to motivate yourself. I believe that getting into good habits early on is really important and keeping yourself organized is the key to success.
The transition from Guernsey to Cardiff was a tough one for me because I didn’t get to go home for weekends like my friends did. But the first few weeks are what you make them; immerse yourself in Uni life from day one and I’m sure you will love it!