It doesn’t matter if you are fresh from high school or a mature student gaining qualifications to further your work prospects, the first few weeks, and especially the first few days of university are stressful. From finding your way around the voluminous campus and halls, to meeting new people, both students and lecturers alike, you are going to feel a little overwhelmed at times. Embrace this feeling, accept the challenge and enjoy what should be some of the most memorable years of your life.
The best thing about starting your journey at university is definitely the orientation week, or fresher week. This is a great time to learn not just the ins and outs of your chosen place of study but it also gives you time to settle in and make new friends over a not so quiet drink or two. This informal introduction is meant to be fun so be prepared for lots of extra-curricular activities that may or may not involve alcohol at the student bars and hangouts. The ‘old hats’ may also have a week of team building events, such as sports, to bond you and the rest of the new faculty members together and give you a brief taste of university life.
The part of university or college life that takes many people the most time to get used to is the fact that you hold your educational and study commitments in your own hands. Partied too hard and missed the morning lecture? Nobody is going to chase you up or berate you, which sounds fantastic, but if you do this regularly it will affect your final grades…and it will all be your own fault. Learning the art of time management and the real need to work and study independently is one of the core principles of university that will stay with you throughout your life and is a highly sought after skill. To some it will come as easily as turning up the sound system in your dorm room, others will have to work at it and find this skill-set the hardest part of their first few weeks and months at university.
The main thing to remember is to try and keep yourself motivated, not just in your academic work, but also in the social side of life as well. There is the old saying that ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’, take heed of this; take time out away from the books, refresh your batteries, go out with friends and enjoy the student life in what is possibly a new area and far away from your home town, parents and high-school friends. If you do feel you are starting to feel snowed under then contact the guys at your local student union who will have been through the same process and possibly have had the same feelings you are experiencing. Don’t be embarrassed to reach out, after all, university life is all about preparing you for the real world that begins when your course ends and there are times in everybody’s life when we need some friendly help and advice.
University life is a big step, but it is a big step that you will look back on with fondness, a place where you make lifelong friends and receive not just an academic education, but also valuable social skills that will stay with you life.
Good luck and have a great time!