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Paper,paper everywhere

10 Hydref 2015

Hello, and welcome to my first blog! I thought I’d start off with a post on settling into uni life and some things that can help with this.

Now the excitement of freshers is wearing off, everyone is settling into the new academic year. It can be pretty daunting to begin with, especially with a course like Optometry which is so different to anything you have done during your A levels. I know that in the first week you are bombarded with booklets, group lists and equipment. You seem to run around the campus looking for rooms carrying every bit of paper you have been given in case you need it, wearing both white coats one on top of the other because you have no idea which one to wear when. It can all be very overwhelming, especially if you are still getting used to living away from home for the first time as well.

The important thing to remember is that it all gets a lot better. Everyone wants you to be happy and do well at university, so don’t be scared to ask for help, whether it’s from your friends, lecturers, personal tutor, your Optom buddies or student services. I’m always happy to help as well, so feel free to get in touch on Facebook, on here, or if you see me around the Optometry building.  With such a small (I know it doesn’t seem like it at first!) year group and lots of labs you get to know everyone pretty quickly. Your timetable will stay pretty much the same throughout the year as well, so once you have found where everything is you are sorted.

Lots of different things can make the first few weeks difficult. If you are having problems getting used to the different teaching methods used at university you may like to try some of the study workshops run by the Academic skills and development service. They offer a range of sessions of lots of different topics including notetaking and time management. You can go to as many as you like, and if you attend 5 sessions you can get a certificate. I have been to a few and found them helpful, and it was quite a nice way to meet people from other courses.

Another thing that can make things difficult is problems with where you are living. No one can learn well if they are not sleeping and eating properly, and have somewhere comfortable to live. If you are living in private accommodation your personal tutor and student services can be very helpful in sorting out any issues. If you are in halls, the residences team are a good first point of contact. In my experience they sort out any maintenance problems very quickly, and if you are having problems with your flatmates they can facilitate a meeting to try and resolve any issues. If you think that it really won’t work out staying where you are don’t panic. You will often be able to swap flats. This is quite common in the first few weeks as some people always drop out or want to move, so places become available.

A problem that can be a little harder to solve is homesickness. This is one of the things I found most difficult when I started university. Even if you are enjoying your course and have made lots of new friends, sometimes things just don’t feel ‘right’. Cardiff isn’t your home yet and your new friends are not your home friends. I think that a lot of people feel like this at first, and it’s something that gradually improves over time. Keeping busy (not a problem on Optometry!) and talking to someone, either a friend or someone from the university counselling department can be useful. Making new friends can be difficult, but most people are in the same position as you and would love to do something with you,so don’t be afraid to ask J.

Apologies for such a mammoth first post. I hope that some of this has been helpful and hasn’t put off anyone thinking of applying! Chances are you won’t encounter any of these problems, but it’s good to know where to turn if you do. Please get in touch if there is anything you would like me to write about soon or if you have any questions, especially if you’re going through UCAS at the moment.

A few links:

The study skills sessions

Student counselling