Beware of the marker pen.
You MUST have heard that song. If you haven't, I'm sorry, but I'm going to discount you as a university student. Don't worry if you're not a student, I'll let that one pass, just make sure you take a peek on Youtube. I think the amount of times we played I Love College by Asher Roth in my flat in Fresher's Week when I started first year totalled a stupid number. "Ooohhh, this song is about Freshers! Totally relates to us, right?" It's the same with the Tinie Tempah song, Pass Out. There's a line that talks about raving with the Freshers. I remember always shouting that part when I sang along. If I'm singing along, I'll always shout the parts of a song that I think relate to me.
"Fresher Flat Photo!" I look so young.
First year makes you feel like you're super special and you're the first ever people to go to university. Like, ever! I know, I've been there. I've felt the same, got the t-shirt. Or actually, all the t-shirts, and I now use them for the gym. Seems a bit ironic sometimes, sporting a Smirnoff-or-similar-sponsored top when you're on a mad one on the cross-trainer.
Back on topic. You do feel like you're brand new and shiny when you become a first year undergraduate at uni. It's partly because you are. But the same goes for all the other people in previous years that began their time in higher education - they lived in your halls, they partied as hard as you, they had a bit of spending spree with their loans, too. It's really odd to think it's just the same thing every single year, and that the university staff must see the same thing happen all the time. They can probably predict how you'll lead your educational life from just watching a couple of your actions. It's just a repetition. A circle. Round and round we go, through the motions, turning like cogs in a machine.
Don't become just one of those cogs though. You want to break the mould, right? I certainly do. I don't want to just be that girl that went off to Swansea, studied some humanities degree, ended up with an alright result, and got some monotonous office job. That's not what I want my life to become. I have ambitions, finally. It took me the entirety of my teenage years to actually form them, but they are here. They've taken up residency in me; I don't want any flimsy dream-like plans that have only arrived on the basis that they're taking out a short-term rental agreement.
First years: make sure you're making full use of your time learning about the big wide world. Being away from home means you should take all those opportunities that you're presented with. Don't shy away. If you could believe, I was one of those shy people last year who was so scared of trying new things because I didn't know whether I was allowed, or if I would fit in. It's the big U.N.I. for crying out loud: everyone is in the same boat and we're all desperate to make friends and try new things!
JOIN THOSE CLUBS - I know it seems a bit late on in the term to be announcing this, but there's still time. You can just drop an email to the club, and usually they'll be really friendly and let you know when their practice sessions are, or when they meet up. There are so many things to choose from too, so try a couple of things out until you find your new passion.
Swansea Uni Rowing Club 2011-12
GO TO SOCIALS - Either join in with your new flatmates, or go to your society's socials, and get yourself along to those nights out. This is how you'll meet new people; this is how you're probably going to end up with friends that you'll have for the rest of your life. They're not always nights out either. My club is probably a bad example because it is oriented towards the Wednesday-night-out scene, but we also have sober socials too where we go to buffets and meals out and things. There are plenty of things you can do without drinking.
SURC Varsity Dinner
KEEP ON TOP OF YOUR WORK - It's easy to think, 'Oh, it's first year, it doesn't count.' No. No that's not true. It does count, you can make foundations for your next couple of years at uni now. Do those essays properly, listen out in lectures, attend your seminars. Those notes that you have now, all that feedback you receive, that could be useful for future modules you take. First year is definitely more laid back but don't take it with too much of a breeze.
KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR BANK BALANCE - Don't hide from the account total like I love to do. Just because you're not checking how much is in there doesn't mean it's not slowly decreasing. Just make sure you're double checking the amount you spend every week. Keep enough in there for your rent! Set a budget for the week, and only get out the money you intend on spending, and hide your card in your room to prevent yourself getting it out again.
UTILISE YOUR NEW STUDENT STATUS - Start getting student-savvy. Student discounts are everywhere. Make sure you ask in the shops, because it will get you a reasonable amount off your purchases. Some restaurants are the same, too, so watch out for meal deals. Oh, and get a railcard. I have one and it saves me extraordinary amounts. I can get home without forking out an arm and a leg.
Big love, xo