Wednesday 28 August 2013

Starting University

It's that time of year where everyone gets exam results and decides what the next step in life is going to be. Whether it's getting an apprenticeship, getting a job or going to university, whatever decision it is - it's normally one that is going to make a real impact on your life for the next 10 or so years. 

I left school and went onto college to do a Sport and Exercise Sciences course, hoping to become a PE teacher. In this time, I also qualified as a Gym Instructor and was adamant that I wasn't going to go to university - at the time, it just didn't seem the right thing for me. So, after 2 years at college, I enrolled in a Personal Training course that lasted 12 weeks and cost just under £2000! I finished the course and unfortunately come out into the start of what now is the recession. I was jobless for 8 months! Which, after paying £2000 for a course to get a stable job, was a bit annoying. I managed to get a job in a Hotel as a Receptionist which I stuck out for the next 2 years but it come to a point that I needed to be doing something constructive with my life and start a proper career so I looked into going to uni.

I was 21 at this point, a lot older than all the 18 year olds that were starting university! But my aim was different to theirs... I wasn't going to get drunk every night, I was there to make a career for myself. I applied to 4 universities to do a Sport Education type of course 1) Liverpool John Moore 2) St Marys Twickenham 3) Leeds Met 4) Brunel University. Because I never did A-Levels, my college and Personal Training NVQ were all I had to give me my UCAS points which came to just under 280, this ruled out Leeds & Brunel and then unfortunately, Liverpool had dropped their course but offered me a place on the Physical Education Studies course. After taking a trip up to Liverpool to visit one of the tutors and discuss if the course was right for me, I decided to go with Twickenham as it was more focused on the things I wanted to obtain from it, i.e. becoming a PE teacher. 

So, through the summer of 2011, preparations began... I was making lists of what I was going to take, sorting boxes of stuff, sold my car *sobs hysterically* and was getting books which I thought would help with my studies. I moved down to uni on 11th September 2011 and I must admit, it was a little daunting but I couldn't wait to start my life in university, getting the thing I wanted most... A career (although this all changed when Millie arrived but that's a whole new story)

Now, if you're starting university, you may have all these questions about what's going to happen when you get there, how do you make new friends, getting to know the area etc... Well, fret no more. I have put together a little list of things to do when you get to uni to help make you more comfortable and to settle it quickly! 

Be friendly - I know it's kind of stating the obvious but a smile goes a long way. You will probably find that 2nd and 3rd years will be helping you move into halls / helping you find your way around so don't forget to smile and thank them, maybe generate conversation. At least when you're settled in, you have a familiar face to say 'Hi' to around uni. 

Leave your door open - When you're moving in (or even once you're settled) leave your door open so that everyone in halls knows you're there! If one of you need something too, it's less scary knocking on asking them for some toilet roll because you've ran out of yours! 

Take part in what ever is going on - On our first night in halls, we had a halls meeting and all went for dinner together. It was a great way of seeing who we lived with and you will probably find someone that you instantly click with and will continue to be friends with for the duration of your stay. 

Don't be afraid to ask questions - If you have a halls mentor (normally a 2nd or 3rd year) don't be afraid to ask them questions. Whether it's about travelling home, going out, places to shop etc - they are there to support you, not just to make you extremely hungover! 

Make the effort - I know this one sounds a little pushy but you have to remember, some people may not be as open as you are, others may be a little too open but friendships only work when both people put the effort in. Everyone will be in the same boat on the first couple of days so try to stay away from cliques or judging people before you get to know them - you never know... they could be your best friend in a couple of months time! 

Don't feel pressured - There will be things going on that you may not be comfortable with; drugs, drink, smoking etc, but don't feel like you HAVE to do something because everyone else is. I actually only went to the local nightclub 3 times because the student scene just wasn't for me and i'd rather use my money to come home at weekends and see Adam. At times I felt lonely because everyone else would be going out but at the end of the day, I wasn't going to force myself to go out just because everyone else was! 

Most importantly, Be yourself! It's easy to get wrapped up in a little white lie when you meet a bunch of new people and if someone is bragging about their brand new Mini that's sitting in the car park and that they are planning 3 holidays during first year, don't feel like you need to lie to compete with them and look better. At the end of the day, these people you meet at university will be your friends for at least 3 years, maybe more, and will find things out about you in their own time. Don't try to be someone you're not! 

So, if you're starting university this September, enjoy it but remember that you're there for a reason and that's to make a better life for yourself by gaining a degree to kick start your dream career! 

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