Hello all, welcome, welcome to yet another sparkly new Insider blog.
Lovely to meet you.
I have returned to my second ever term at the Grand and Prestigious Institution that is Cardiff University and I’m going to tell you all about what I learnt when I first moved here. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we shall begin.
1. 9 contact hours a week are actually very tiring.
I don’t know if it’s something to do with the intensity of learning, but by jove it’s exhausting. Great fun and intellectually stimulating, but exhausting. An important thing to sort out when you begin uni is your sleeping schedule, especially when you have early(ish) starts like 9 or 10am. ‘Ah,’ you say, ‘I’ve been up at 6am every day for the past seven years. Shouldn’t be that much different.’ IT IS. Oh, it is.
2. Don’t treat first year like an extended Fresher’s Week.
There’s a surprising amount of stuff you learn in first year (and bitter lecturers who teach the Thursday 9ams after the SU nights on a Wednesday like to pack in extra so the people who miss it have LOADS to catch up on) means that even though first year ‘doesn’t count’-more on that later-it is vital that you don’t miss the odd lecture. Seriously, avoid the nights out before a long day at uni and you will thank yourself. I say this, but every so often there is an exceptional case, like a 21st birthday or a one-night-only gig your favourite band is playing, like, don’t miss those. It’s a balance.
3. Naps are a harsh mistress.
They’re rather useful when you are in the rare situation of extreme exhaustion (see 21st birthday party with a 9am the day after, above) but don’t overdo it. They mess your sleeping schedule around and suddenly you don’t know what day it is and when you last went to lectures. My flatmate has genuinely slept from mid-morning Monday through to Wednesday evening. It’s not a game anymore.
4. Get Involved! (i.e. do stuff other than your degree)
Despite the vaguely cringe-worthy subtitle, this is particularly important, especially for students with few contact hours. Admittedly, the extra work you put in adds up, you’re still left with considerably more free time than in Sixth Form (or college). If you don’t manage this well, you can become unmotivated and really quite sad, and it’s a rather awful situation to be in. So, pick up some extra-curriculars! This means different things to different people, obviously. I have joined a dance society and the student media team, but my friend has picked up a two-day-a-week job to keep him occupied (and so he doesn’t waste away indoors.)
5. Use First Year to acclimatise.
Most people who come here (to a Russell Group) are probably chronic overachievers. And that’s ok. You wouldn’t get here if you weren’t. But bear in mind that First Year doesn’t count towards your degree for a reason-the assessment process is completely different to what I used during Sixth Form and it takes a while to get used to the independence of work, too. (Pro tip: start coursework asap. Then talk to your tutors about it.) First year does count, though, especially if you’re trying to get on an International exchange scheme, so still try.
Okay, that’s all for the whistle-stop tour of the academic side to Cardiff! Let me know what you thought/ if there’s anything else you want to know!
So long and thanks for all the fish,