We know going to uni is a big adjustment, so we’ve put together 9 helpful pieces of advice for First Years to help you settle in.

It’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of starting uni; when you hear about how much fun everyone is having and read about how much you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself, it can make you feel a little lost if things don't feel that way for you straight away. But don’t worry, all is not lost!

Try to get involved

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As best you can. We know it’s not easy for everyone to be a social butterfly and in the thick of every conversation, but express your desire to make friends and develop yourself a social life. Make the most of all opportunities that present themselves - don’t ever worry about not knowing friends of friends well enough to ‘tag along’! That’s what Freshers is all about and that's exactly how you’re going to meet new people and make new friends.

Know your own mind

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And be proud to stand by your decision! It’s completely okay to say no if you’d rather stay in and relax than go out sometimes. You’re allowed to do exactly as you choose, and your friends and flatmates should respect that. If they don’t and they try to pressure you into going out when you don’t feel like it, ignore them - the problem is with them and not you.

Be open-minded

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Try your hardest to sample new things and give every new person you meet a fair chance. If you see any societies and clubs that interest you, or even ones that simply intrigue you (yes, there is such a thing as a Quidditch Society!), go along to the taster sessions. You might discover a new passion and, in doing so, meet some really good friends.

Every new experience you have and person you meet is an opportunity. Either they’ll fade into the background or they’ll become a central part of your uni life. Whatever happens, these encounters all combine to make up your uni experience, which you’ll look back on one day - hopefully without any regret for missed opportunities!

Personalise everything

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It’s definitely a good idea to make your room homely and comfy. Student accommodation can sometimes be a little boring and grey to look at. If you decorate your room with lots of photos, fairy lights, posters, plants or whatever else you like, you’ll find that the room feels much more like home and you won’t feel bad about spending time there... which will definitely help with how you feel about your life at uni when the actual studying part begins.

You’re definitely not the only one...

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...who's taking a bit of time to adjust. Everyone (literally thousands of students across the UK) is in the same boat. Some people might seem instantly well-adjusted, but don’t compare yourself to others; people handle their thoughts and feelings differently. Some of those people will genuinely have adapted more quickly, and that’s great, but some of them will just be very good at hiding their anxiety or nerves. Whichever way, you’re doing just fine and there’s nothing unusual about taking some time to settle into your new surroundings. 

Relax

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Allow yourself some free time! Time to just chill out and do what you love. Whether it’s running, reading, listening to music, or heck, if it’s sleeping! (Goodness knows you’ll do well to get all the sleep you can during Freshers!) Allow yourself this down time to remain positive, happy and refreshed. You deserve an incredible experience at uni, so always try to leave the odd blank space in your calendar!

You’re awesome!

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Just take a moment to remind yourself how well you’re doing and what a rounded, grown-up person you’re becoming through this experience. Of course there will be the occasional day where you feel stressed, or a little lonely, even. But hold on to the knowledge that you’re doing brilliantly, you’re growing as a person and you’re never alone! You have a wealth of people who want to listen to, and help, you, like your parents, friends, partners, personal tutors, health and wellbeing teams etc. The list goes on!

Communicate

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Talk to family and friends back home. You can always text rather than actually speak to them if you’re really missing them. Don’t make it a big deal or a time to get upset - it’s a way to keep up-to-date with all your friends and family and to stay in the loop, but not a time to miss your home life. You have a second life now that runs parallel with what you have at home - you are allowed to be a part of both worlds and enjoy them just as much as each other.

In the same way, don’t be afraid to admit to new friends or flatmates that you’re feeling a little homesick. They’re probably feeling exactly the same way, but even if they say they aren’t, a problem shared is a problem halved! They’ll at least understand if you’re a little quiet at dinner one night or choose to pass on a night out.

Accept any help that is offered

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Make sure you use all and any of the support that is available to you. It’s not weakness and there’s very little that the support services will be surprised about or unable to help you with. Students at university need support; it’s a stressful and demanding time in your life. So do a little research into what help is available and talk to people. They are all there to listen and help, not to judge.

Almost all universities will have a Health and Wellbeing Team, counsellors and/or Students’ Union drop-ins available for you to discuss any problems or concerns you may have. For academic questions and problems, you should also be allocated a Personal Tutor who you can email or visit during their office hours. There will always be someone around to help!

So there are our 9 helpful pieces of advice for First Years. What do you think? Do you have any other suggestions or advice you'd like to share?

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