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The first year of uni: a survival guide

University studentsResults Day has been and gone, and if you're reading this, chances are you were accepted on to a course and will be starting university at the end of the month. First of all, congratulations are in order, your hard-work has paid off, you’re about to embark on a fantastic adventure which you should probably have started packing for. Of course, there is a lot of anxiety and stress associated with leaving for university; it's likely that you'll be leaving your home and the town you grew up in, which may be a completely new experience for you. Worry not though, this guide will help make the first year of university as stress-free as possible.

Freshers’ Week

The first month, and especially the first week, can be a stressful time, with all the events that are happening, becoming accustomed to a new room and meeting a new group of friends, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. If you feel like you need to take a break during your first week, do just that, this could be something as simple as a nap or indulging in an activity you enjoy away from the crowds of new students.

During your first few weeks, you’ll meet a bunch of new people: flatmates, people on the same course as you, people standing in a queue with you; prepare to start remembering a bunch of names. You’ll meet so many people over the first few weeks that you’ll be able to easily decide which people you plan on spending more time with, and which ones you’ll just give a passing smile to if you happen to recognise them on campus. This is why you shouldn’t feel too brow-beaten if you don’t get on with your flatmates, you will have plenty of opportunities to meet people more like yourself.

The best way to make friends is by joining societies; you should join all the ones you have a genuine interest in, and then start choosing them at random, or use this as an opportunity to try out something new. Baking society? Sure. Speleological society? Of course. Tea society? Obviously! Try anything and everything, you’ll be so busy enjoying yourself and making friends that you’ll completely forget about the hard work that’s ahead.


Don’t try and transcribe everything your lecturer says.

You might feel like you need to take note of every single point your lecturer makes, but, unless you can write in shorthand, by the time you’ve finished writing down everything, you will have missed 2 or 3 other important things. A lot of the time lecturers give you print outs, or the documents will be available online, so the best course of action is to truly listen to what is being taught, and make quick notes of the most important information/suggestions for further reading. This will save you from trying to decipher writing that has become illegible in your haste to make notes, and will probably save your hand from cramping up too.

You should also make a habit of keeping your notes organised, this will become particularly useful come exam/essay time when you’re scrambling to find a vital piece of information.

Essay writing

Chances are you’ve already written essays before, either in sixth-form or college, so thankfully this concept shouldn’t be entirely new to you.

Essays (along with exams, which are basically timed essays) are your chance to shine, the opportunity to prove to your lecturers that you have been listening to everything they’ve said in lectures. So it’s important that you don’t mess it up.

First of all, make sure you know when the essay is due, giving yourself plenty of time to research, write, redraft and of course, procrastinate. By giving yourself a long timeframe for the completion of an essay, you won’t have to feel guilty about taking breaks every now and again.

You should also ensure that you’re actually answering the question asked, and not your own interpretation of the question. Pick a question that you think you could discuss in the most depth, without being overcomplicated.

Remember the basic structure of introducing what you’ll be arguing in the introduction, making your argument in the main body, and reiterating your argument in the conclusion, be sure not to introduce new arguments in the conclusion.

You should also get to grips with your university’s preferred referencing format as soon as possible, going back and forth between documents to ensure you have formatted references correctly can add extra time to an already lengthy process.

Drinking responsibly

Unless you’re not a fan of drinking, there’s a good chance that you’ll consume a fair amount of alcohol during your three years at university, so it’s crucial that you understand your own limits and even then, that you drink in moderation.

You should always eat before a night out, especially food high in carbohydrates and protein, as this will delay the alcohol from entering your system, but it will not stop you from getting drunk.

If you’re not looking for a hangover the next day, you should avoid mixing your drinks, especially wine/beer and beer/spirits. You should also follow a round of drinks with a glass of water, this will dilute some, but not all, of the bad effects that come from drinking alcohol.

Staying out of debt

Budgeting doesn’t have to be difficult, but as uni fees increase and maintenance grants decrease, it is becoming increasingly more important to do so. Keep a hold of your receipts, take advantage of student discounts, coupons and vouchers, it might take a bit of effort, but you can easily become a savvy saver.

It might be difficult to settle into a new life at university, but when you do, we’re sure you’ll love every minute of it. If you’re lucky enough to be attending a Cardiff-based university and are looking for student accommodation, we’re sure to have the perfect property for you and your new-found friends! Take a look at our property listings today, and please, don’t hesitate to contact us or pop in to our Cathays branch for advice on student housing. 

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