So it’s approaching that time of year. The moment most students can’t wait for, but most parents are dreading. It’s time for you to leave your comfortable family home for university. For a lot of people this means moving away from home for the first time, and most probably beginning at least a three year stint living in a completely alien town or city. This is often a difficult time for families to re-adjust, but most importantly, it can be an incredibly difficult time for students as well (despite the bravado you may be fronting.) Bearing this in mind, through this blog post I hope to share some of the things I have learned through life as a student at Cardiff University. I’m now going into my fourth year at Cardiff, so hopefully some of what I’ve got to say will help a few students out there.
It is okay to be homesick
I don’t know anyone who isn’t homesick. I still get homesick and I moved out three years ago! For some reason homesickness is seen as a little bit embarrassing, and definitely not something most people want to admit to in their first week of university (and not even in their last year!) I’m not quite sure why so many people feel there is a stigma attaching to being homesick (obviously, it’s not in keeping with ‘lad culture’), but it’s completely normal. I’m also not sure why, after living with your family for 18 years straight, we’re expected to leave one day and be completely unphased by it. I was, and even as a weathered 21 year old, I still am. It’s important to remember that there is support available out there. At Cardiff University we have our amazing Student Support Centre. The centre is full of amazing and friendly people who always want to help. No matter how big, or small, the problem is seek help if you need to.
2. Budget, budget, budget!!!
You may think it’s really cool using up all of your student loan or your parents’ money in the first fortnight of term, but it’s really not. No matter how popular you felt after buying everyone in the union five apple sourz it’s definitely not the approach you want to take to make friends, or to ensure you’re not eating 40 pence pizza for the entire month before the Christmas holidays. Don’t be that guy!! Be careful with your money, it has to stretch further than you think. It’s okay to make a few mistakes with your money in your first year, it’s part of the university experience. I for one definitely made some outlandish shopping decisions in my first year, but by third year I became much better at managing my money. You might have travel ideas for you three month long summer after first year, budgeting your money will ensure you can make some Instagram-worthy plans.
3. Turn up to your lectures
Again, don’t be that guy!! After your first week you’ll know who I’m talking about. The guy who didn’t bother turning up for enrolment week, and instead of enrolling on his History course is instead taking a strange mix of history, sanskrit and economics. Don’t be that person. It may seem to you to be a funny anecdote for pre-drinks, but if you’re friends are anything like mine, they’re at university to work hard and do well. The stereotypical image of lazy students turning up to two lectures a month, but still managing to scrape 2:1s isn’t realistic, and it certainly isn’t cool. When you graduate from university (plot twist: this happens way quicker that you expect) you won’t regret the lectures you turned up for and the work you put into your degree, you’ll regret the lectures you missed and the work you should have put into it. Make good choices!
4. It’s okay to not want to go out ALL the time
Most people enjoy a night out, some people don’t and that’s great too. But if you’re someone like me who enjoys a fun night out, but also enjoys the finer things in life (Netflix and wine from a box) don’t be embarrassed about it. You’ll meet people who can somehow go out every night of Fresher’s Fortnight and have the same energy as they did when their parents dropped them off fresh faced two weeks before. If you’re that person, then great! But if you’re not that’s equally great too. I never understood why it was assumed all students must want to drink and go out every night for two weeks. Unfortunately you may have to face people who think that NOT going out every night is strange, weird, and frankly a waste of the university experience. Spolier: it’s not. University is a place where you have so much fun you don’t want it to end, but it’s also a place where you grow as a person and learn more about yourself. Be someone who can stand up for what they want to do, not what they think they should do.