If you clicked on this blog post, it’s because you are about to go to University and you are looking for a few tips. Luckily for you, I already compiled a Do’s & Don’ts Guide (see below) that you can download right now.
My aim is to help you have the best fresh start at University. Let’s get right into it!
#1 BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH YOUR PROFESSOR
Your lecturers and professors are experts in their fields. The higher the University ranking the better the quality of expertise they have. Moreover, it is extremely useful to have a good reference from a professor. Employers will open up to you much more easily.
#2 LEARN HOW TO USE A WASHING MACHINE
Make sure that you know how to use a washing machine. Know which clothes go with what temperature and colors. Ask your mother, ask everything she knows about a washing machine. Remember that washing machines in halls do have a fee. In Exeter, it is at least 5 pounds. Its even more if you use a dryer therefore do take that into account.
#3 THINK ABOUT YOUR FAMILY
It obviously depends on the type of family you have but most parents are worried and sad to see their babies leave the nest. Call your family at least once every two weeks. Tell them how you are going they are dying to hear from you. This is something I did not do and it still haunts me today.
#4 WHY ARE YOU AT UNI?
Know your purpose. Where you want to be in 5 years time? What is your passion? What does your ideal life looks like? Learn why you are doing what you do and what is your motivation. Usually people who are about to go to University, are thinking about obvious problems. For example, they stress about making new friends, partying, having a good degree and fitting in. But those are all short term goals. What about your story of your life? What about the plot of your existence? Think about it because, as vague as it might sounds, your student life is the perfect opportunity to invest a huge amount of time and energy in your ideal outcome.
#5 TRY STUFF OUT
Get involved in projects with people, do extra curricular activities and apply for jobs in the summer. Try and figure it all out as early as possible because the sooner the better.
I don’t know about you but I had absolutely no clue about what I wanted to do at University. I chose Business & Management because I thought it would be the course that would open the most doors (or close the least). A lot of people are in that situation: they don’t do much and they just think that this kind of revelation will arrive later on, somehow. And some of them did get lucky: it did happen that way. The best way to avoid the doubts is to test things out and understand a bit more about the working environment.
#6 SAVE THEM BENJAMINS!
Your consumer choices matter. Some freshers are so excited to go to uni that they want everything to be perfect: the perfect plate, the perfect jar, the perfect mug, the perfect cutlery, every thing color coordinated and that’s fine… if you can afford it.
Just remember though: the average student goes into University with 4 plates, 4 glasses and 4 of everything and ends up with one plate and someone else’s fork. Things get broken, things get lost, things get borrowed and never given back. You can’t spend your uni life worrying about that person giving you back your mug.
#7 DO NOT TELL EVERYONE WHAT YOU THINK
Let’s talk about trust. When you arrive to uni, everyone is in the same boat. Everyone is scared and excited, as it’s kind of a daunting experience. Excited people tend to be super nice to everyone. Loads of people will be nice to you. It is only natural that nerves and anxiety make you want to pour your soul out to someone, to share thoughts and opinions about certain situations or even people. You can open up, you can say what you want about yourself but I highly recommend you wait to pick the person that will receive extra information from you.
Also, gossip always backfires. Be as positive as you can. Everyone is nice at the beginning, but not everyone has good intentions. This does not mean that you shouldn’t be friendly smiley and open. Relax and do not worry: the right friends will come. People who attract most friends are the ones that smile, who are confident with themselves and relaxed.
#8 MAKE FRIENDS IN YOUR COURSE OF STUDY
Imagine you are sick or one day or that you can’t go to lectures because you have a doctor’s appointment, or something else… it is very important to have a group of people you can count on. They shouldn’t be just acquaintances you feel embarrassed to ask favors for, but people that you know will be there for you and vice versa.
Not everyone will give back what you give. Make sure you have a few options when you start creating those relationships, just in case. Always give. Karma works both ways.
#9 PRE-SET ALARMS
Sometimes you will want to go party the day before a morning lecture. In that case, set your alarm before you go out. Or just schedule a bunch of them for the next days.
#10 GIVE PEOPLE A CHANCE TO SURPRISE YOU
Do not judge someone straight away. Be humble enough to understand that you do not own the truth. Your perception is not necessarily how things are, so it is very important that when you meet someone for the first time, no matter how arrogant they look, no matter how loud they are, keep an open mind because at the end of the day, everyone has a story and everyone is going through battles you know nothing about.
I know that some of you will judge other people, it’s normal, when you go to a new university, a new environment, your brain is processing so much information that you have to go sometimes through stereotypes in order to organize what you are seeing a bit better… it’s kind of a psychological thing, it’s normal. Just keep an open mind, someone might surprise you.
#11 BRING YOUR PARENTS OVER
Most people do not know if they should bring their parents or not. I always tell these people to bring their parents, and not only that: make the most out of their presence. Parents are not there to ruin your life, they really want to make you happy. So don’t feel like it’s not cool to have your parents around the first few days, that’s not true: as far as I’m concerned, I’ve seen a lot of parents during fresher’s week.
#12 GET RID OF THE BUREAUCRATIC CHORES
Do all of the bureaucratic stuff as soon as possible. When you arrive at university, you will have to do so many things such as checking the room and do the inventory. You will probably have to go to a bank and open a student bank account, or have a new phone contract if you are international student. Just do as much as its needed as early on as possible so that you can fully focus on meeting new people.
#13 JOIN A SOCIETY
I’ve realized that a lot of people do not join societies either because they think they can’t do the activity, or because they think that it’s pointless to join a society. If you are ever hesitating of joining a society my big tip for you is just try things out, because you never know what you can fall in love with.
For instance, the surf society: I didn’t know how to surf however I loved being part of it because of the people. Some people didn’t know they liked the Cheese society or the Quiddich society or the Business society. All of these societies have potential friends in them. Once you’ve found your crowd, you’ll be the happiest person ever therefore explore what is available.
#14 LOOK FOR THOSE GOLDEN OPPORTUNITIES
If you going to a university in the UK do make sure you make the most out of the opportunities you get. The fees are usually 9000 pounds (we’ll see with Brexit). Students think that they only pay for lectures. That’s a shame because universities have a lot of services that students just don’t use. For Exeter, there is a whole room called the Career Zone that is suppose to give you tips about your CV and Cover Letter. It has a website with loads of job openings. There are also many guest speakers that come to talk at the university and loads of projects that you can get involved with.
I guess that what I am trying to say is: make the most out of your degree not only from an academical point of view but also from an extra curricular point of view. Research what your university has in store for you.
#15 LEARN ABOUT TIME MANAGEMENT TO CREATE MORE TIME FOR WHAT YOU LOVE
Managing your time is a skill that you need to try and master as earlier on in your career and if possible during your student life.
#16 PEOPLE ARE AS SCARED OF YOU AS YOU ARE OF THEM
Talk to random people. Go up to them and start a conversation. If you are outside or in the smoking area of a club, and you see someone alone chilling, go up to them. Make a comment with a big smile and start a conversation: you never know what will comes out of it.
Everyone is in the same boat, especially in freshers so just go for it, don’t worry about anything else.
#17 “STICK TO YOUR YEAR” IF POSSIBLE
For every girl out there who falls in love so easily or is just attracted to the wrong guys. I am not going to tell you what to do with your life, who to chose or whatever. I just don’t recommend to go for a senior, a person who is in his last year of uni. Especially if you are a fresher.
Usually guys in their last year don’t really go for relationship material. Obviously, it’s not true for everyone, there are always exceptions. I am not going to paint every single situation with the same brush. Just be aware of it.
#18 GET TO KNOW YOURSELF AND LOVE IT
A lot of people feel that they absolutely need someone else to fill a void within themselves. One of the best lessons to learn is to know and be serene about who you are. Getting to love yourself is something that is so crucial and at the base of every success. Confidence comes out of it, positive results come out of it, new opportunities come out of it… once you do it you can literally conquer anything you want.
#19 KNOW WHEN TO ADAPT
Not everyone thinks like you and its quite hard to really understand that to the core. Everyone struggles with it. Maybe for you it’s normal that in a certain situation you react in a certain way. Imagine you have a friend that did something that, in your opinion, is completely wrong. That friend is saying “I didn’t do anything wrong, I don’t understand why you are making such a big deal out of this.”
They are not trying to be nasty or petty, you guys simply don’t have the same way of thinking and that’s why most students gravitate towards students from their same background.
#20 PUT YOURSELF FIRST
You do not owe anyone anything. And this is something that I personally struggled a lot with. It can be anything: people asking you for favors; guys in bed demanding or expecting a certain behavior from you… Do and say things if you really want to, but learn how to say no and learn to put yourself first.
#21 BRING SOMETHING FROM HOME
Bring something from home that will make you feel better. Personally I was not at all homesick in my first year. But some of you guys get homesick since day one in University. It can be anything: a peluche; a letter; a photo; a photo album. Bring it.
#22 YOUR PEOPLE ARE OUT THERE SOMEWHERE!
Find people that will enable you to start fresh. The reason why I insist on this is because so many people remain in their comfort zone and stay with the people they already know. Get out of that comfort zone: there are so many people out there. Make sure you are not missing out on meeting potentially great friends. Don’t just stick with the group: stay continuously open to new friendships.
#23 LEARN HOW TO BUDGET
It’s one of those skills that you need to learn for life therefore I have 2 very basic methods. If you are super organized or generally a tidy person then write every expense. That’s the ultimate way to actually learn about yourself, about what you buy, about your mistakes. Learning from those mistakes will make you even better at budgeting next time around. To correct a problem you first need to be aware of it.
If you are slightly more lazy, and you can’t be bothered to write everything down, decide on a weekly budget and cash it out every Monday. Swiping a card is the worst you can do.
#24 WANT TO FIND LOVE? BE THERE AND BE CHILL
Some of you maybe are going to go to university hoping that you will find the love of your life. If you are looking for someone that you want to share your uni experience with, that’s fine. Just remember to arrive with the mentality that you will be fine on your own. Stay serene: everything that happens, happens.
Obviously that doesn’t mean, “I am going to sit in a room and if it happens it happens” because sitting in your room you is not helping you to meet someone. You really need to put yourself out there, go to events, talk to people, introduce yourself, be sociable… with no expectations. Take things day by day.
#25 WHAT DO YOU VACUUM?
Don’t vacuum insects (spiders) or liquids (sick). Yes, people actually do this. A friend of mine vacuumed a spider and it made babies in the hoover.
#26 DO NOT OVERWORK YOURSELF: LEARN TO FOCUS
If I could go back in time I would tell myself: Francesca, do not get into 5 million projects, you only need two really good ones that you focus on. Focus on your degree and focus on that one project that you really want to be good at. A lot of people think they can do a lot of projects. I though it too, it’s stressful and not always true.
#27 BEWARE OF PROMOTERS BEFORE EVENTS
Before you come to uni, promoters really try and contact through Facebook groups. Just buy one event ticket, not the whole pack. A freshers band that gets you into a lot of freshers events, even for just 2 nights and just go with the flow when you arrive, queue with your flatmates, you know you don’t know what they are going to do anyway. Don’t really spend too much money on events tickets, that is my main tip.
#28 HIGH SCHOOL VS UNIVERSITY
High school is different from Uni. Yes, you will see people behave in a certain way. That’s ok. But most people in uni aren’t that cliquey. I met so many freshers this year that are incredibly mature, talented and ambitious. I really want to encourage you to get out of your shell, to get out of your comfort zone because it’s by doing it, that you grow the most.
#29 KNOWING HOW TO COOK WILL SAVE YOUR WALLET AND BODY
Cooking from scratch healthy meals is the cheapest and healthiest option. In my first year at uni I’ve put on like 3 / 4 kilos.
#30 GO IN FRONT!
Do not sit at the back of the lecture because you don’t hear much. You certainly don’t engage as much either. If you sit at the back, you will hear all of the people, all the chitchats. If you are going to your lecturers, at least make sure you understand it fully.
#31 NEVER SET HIGH EXPECTATIONS
Do not be surprised if you realize that some of your friends are not really your friends. Real friends can literally be counted on one hand, people you can trust. And to actually understand who’s who will take a lot of time. The real friends stick no matter what the situation is and it will hurt to see that some people didn’t.
HOW CAN WE CAN HELP EACH OTHER (ONLINE OPPORTUNITY)
I have done my best to keep this website up-to-date. However, not living in Exeter anymore, this can be a challenge. If you are about to move to Exeter and want to get involved with this blog then please do not hesitate to contact me via my Instagram account. This is a unique opportunity for anyone who would like to get into blogging, influencer marketing or just generally gain some experience for their CV. Again, you can contact me for more details on how this may help you!
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR YOU
Over the years I have created many guides and checklist that aim to help you save time. Here are a list of them just in case you might miss out on a few:
- The Essay Decoder: a resource to help international students understand what is asked in an essay. This resource was given to me by one of Exeter’s top Senior Lecturers.
- Do’s & Don’ts at University Guide: a resource that gives you 70+ tips about university life. These recommendations range from social life, to love life, to reputation… I wish I had this guide when starting.
- The Ultimate Packing Checklist for both Catered students and Self-Catered students. A resource that aims to help you save time when preparing yourself for University.
- My 1st E-Book: a resource that has help me become a boss at Time Management. Moreover, it has also helped me create more time for what I love and get to my goals faster. It is lengthy, however it is arguably the best Time Management piece of research out there.
- My Before & After CV Transformation: a resource that has collected my CVs for the past 7 years to help you not only craft a great CV, but to also show you that everyone can start mediocre and grow exponentially.
- How To Land a Job Faster Guide: a resource that aims to give you all of the tips and recommendations I have used during my career. This will help you avoid some common mistakes students do when starting off with their job applications.
MY OBJECTIVE IS AND WILL FOREVER BE TO HELP YOU
To conclude, the aim of this website is to help you have the best fresh start at University and with your career. There is nothing that gives me more happiness and joy but to hear your positive feedback on how helpful my content has been. Contact me if you have any feedback for me!
BEST OF LUCK WITH IT ALL!!!!