It’s 2017. I blinked finished my Freshers year of university.
I had always wanted to go to university, but had always struggled to settle on a career path.
To cut a long story short(ish), when my friend Jord passed away at the beginning of my second year of sixth form, I lost all hope, motivation and interest in everything. I despised sixth form, my tutors, my counsellor and I just didn’t want to be there.
My form tutor was pestering me about getting my personal statement written and every day the answer was the same ‘how am I meant to write 4000 characters on why I want to be on a course when I don’t even know what course I want to be on?’. It was frustrating, but looking back, I understand why – they saw potential.
I went to an open day at Staffordshire University and got chatting to Head of Journalism Pete Leydon – I’d always had my heart set on Staffs, but I just didn’t know what. I sat through one of Pete’s presentations, and Journalism was looking more and more appealing. For the first time in a long time, I had a spring in my step, and something just clicked.
So, after applying, interviewing and accepting, there I stood with my overpacked pencil case, too many notebooks and my lanyard around my neck – sure fire way to spot a fresher.
Why I didn’t live in halls for Freshers
I didn’t want to live in halls. Staffordshire University was a 30ish minute commute, and I was more than happy to live at home. I love my double bed, my dogs, and having a cup of tea bought to my room in the morning, and you just don’t get that living in student accommodation.
I’m fully aware that if I had of moved out, I may now be able to cook, iron or use a washing machine without calling my dad. I may have also gone on more nights out and had that ‘uni experience’. But don’t let FOMO be your deciding factor. My best argument is that living at home saves you loads of money. I put £1,000 away every single time my loan came through. For transparency, I also had a 6-hours-per-week part time job.
My 5 top tips for surviving Freshers year would be:
- Start work as soon as you get the briefs, take your time and do a couple drafts before making it final – There are two types of people at uni – the ones who are calm and collected, starting work early. And the ones who are panicked, staying up until 3am the day a paper is due. Be the first person – it’s the best thing I ever did. It means that you can help person number 2 out when they’re in a caffeine-fueled stress.
- Eat well and look after your body – yes freshers is fun, but the hangovers and liver poisoning is not. Eat regular meals at the times you normally would. Avoid fast food and convenience food where you can.
- Check your emails regularly – because lectures can be cancelled five minutes before you’re due to leave the house. And also, you have to be quick to snap up opportunities.
- Stock up on pens at the freshers fair – and then keep them everywhere. The car, handbag, kitchen drawer – you can never have too many pens at university. They mysteriously go missing, a lot.
- Budget your student loan – I saved £1,000 from my £1,500 loan each time it hit my account. I used some to pay for my car and insurance, but for the most part, it went away into a pot for the future. This option, of course, is less feasible for those living in halls or rented accomodation.
My Freshers Year at Saffordshire University
In our first week we were doing a lot of ice breaker challenges. Jade, Mel and I were pretty much inseparable in first year, and we are all still in touch today. Together we’ve consumed many a chicken burger and sweet potato fries over revision and shorthand notes. I put on a lot of weight through convenience eating on-campus, but at least I passed all my classes.
There’s also the big Journalism Quiz which helps students that don’t know the area to get to know Stoke a little more. Tutors send you on a mammoth journey via Twitter – it’s pretty hilarious. Oh, and there’s freshers fair where you basically get as many free pens, condoms and lanyards as you can possibly carry (and loadsssss of takeaway vouchers – winner). We even got free pizza from Domino’s.
We attended a heavily subsidised trip to Paris for three days, so we only paid £60. This was a great opportunity to meet new people whilst exploring a beautiful city. Universities often host trips like this and get mega discounts, so look out for them or ask about them. I also visited Florence and New York through university!
To finish off the year, we have the ‘Journo Party’. A big night out at The Underground to celebrate finishing the ear before everyone goes home for summer.
If you’re considering university, go for it. It’s not for everyone, but it was such an amazing life experience for me. It taught me a lot about myself, and how to cope in particular situations. I couldn’t be more proud of myself or more thankful to the people that pushed me.