First of all, I want to congratulate everyone who got into university! This is a new stage in your life and its probably going to be one of the most exciting ones. With university comes freedom, new people and a new journey that many weren’t fortunate enough to get!
I decided to write this blog because I was simply happy for my sister who had got into university studying medicine at Imperial College this year. I’ve been advising her for the past 5 months how to treat this new chapter in her life, as any older sister would of course. However, I wanted to share this with my readers who will also be starting university, or simply going back to their second or third year!
1. FRIENDS & SOCIAL
Within the first week of uni, everyone is usually BFF’s (which isn’t bad). You’re in a new atmosphere and socialising with people you haven’t met before is essential. It gives you a chance to acclimatise (get comfortable & familiar with your surroundings) and relieves any apprehension or anxiety about being an outsider or alone. More importantly, it helps you forge bonds with people from different walks of life who might bring something to your life unexpected and uplifting. It’s a chance to create memories with people that you may either live to regret (hopefully not) or love to remember. Granted, after the third month of uni, these friendships may not be same or might not even exist at all.
The problem some have when it comes to socialising in uni is, dare I say it, the diversity! What I noticed when I started my first year was that all the Caucasian people stuck together and so did the black people including other ethnicities which were the same or close enough. This was fine when it came down to going out to clubs from time to time, but this was on going, even in all my journalism classes.
It wasn’t that anyone was racist or had a problem with each other, far from it. We actually all spoke, but chose to subconsciously interact in our groups alone. Everyone sticks with their comfort zone because branching out carries too many risks.
The important thing we don’t take into account when being in higher education is the necessity of networking and the benefits of it. I wish I integrated with other races right from the start. Because even if you’re not close, these are still the same people you can e-mail or text to ask about an assignment and, 3 years later, these are the same people that can help you climb that ladder to get a job. It’s all about networking, NETWORKING and networking. You never know what establishing the right connection with the right person can do for you.
Two years ago I had a Facebook request from a girl. I had no clue who she was, but saw she went to my university. My friend Steven laughed at me saying
“Oloni she’s in all of our lectures”.
Later I discovered he was actually right. Even though we had never spoken, she knew we both studied the same thing. My regret there was not speaking to her more after knowing who she was in my class. I say this because now she’s had great opportunities such as interning at InStyle The Magazine etc. Do you know how beneficial that contact would have been to me? Exactly. I follow her on Twitter now though.
My point here is to make friends outside your comfort zone. Sure the ACS is great for free food and hearing the same Azonto songs, but try heading down to Liquid on a Monday night. Cover yourself in body paint and get involved with the crazy Avatar movie theme nights that may be taking place! Do something different. Explore. University is a NEW chapter in your life so don’t waste that experience by limiting your horizons and being narrow minded in thought. You never know who you could meet, what you might like and where any given opportunity can lead you. So don’t get too comfortable being comfortable.
2. SEX & RELATIONSHIPS
Women especially, these next couple of paragraphs are for you! Please do not be fooled and think you will find a husband in your first year of university automatically, because you’ll be in for a surprise. Even if you do think you could see a future with a guy, sometimes it’s best to take things slowly. Appreciate the value of friendship. Enjoy the company of different people without having to sleep with many people. A lot of girls feel they have to feed, clothe and sexually satisfy a guy at the drop of a hat just because he’s showing you a little interest. Don’t assume dropping your panties and letting him in will make him stay. A lot of men, at this age, are just about to experience FREEDOM and most want to execute it by BEING free (i.e. no strings attached). Do not fall into the trap by assuming he wants to settle down. It could happen but its very rare. There will be no #him in this stage of your life. . yet. If it happens, it happens. But don’t rush it or expect it instantly.
After all, you’ve just started university. Your only focus should be getting to know different individuals, enjoying the experience & making sure you STUDY so don’t think the first week of Freshers is “How To Get #HIM”
I’m saying this but I’m probably talking to myself, so just refer to any of my relationship blogs please.
Oh yes, the reason you’re actually here. Contrary to popular belief, your first year of uni IS important. People have their own theories as to why it isn’t for some really odd reason.
‘You only need 40% to pass’
‘Your first year doesn’t even count for your degree’
If your first year was not important or a waste of time, it wouldn’t be included within your three years. You’d simply do TWO. But seeing as it’s not like that, there must be some part of it that is vital.
Your lecturers need to know who you are, so going to lectures are important, because you will need help at some point. Your lecturer will not help someone who they do not know, especially when this isn’t college or secondary school. Teachers will not chase you if you decide not to come in because you were so wasted the night before – it is independent learning but that doesn’t mean take that independence for granted and abuse that freedom. YOU have to help yourself first. Discipline and prioritization are key. Otherwise you’ll either find yourself struggling or failing altogether.
Know where all the books that will be useful to you later in your library are kept. Know your way around in the library period. Don’t leave every single assignment till the very last minute & then complain when you’re getting all stressed. Time management is SUCH an important skill. It really will help you a shed load.
4. STUDENT LOAN & MONEY
Student loan is probably of the greatest things that can happen to any student. A large amount of money that magically appears into your account that keeps you on your feet till the second term.
The biggest mistake we often make is spending it irresponsibly, take outs every night, new weaves every week, the same item of clothing EVERYONE on your campus owns, the list goes on. And all instead of being wise and spending your money on necessities. That’s how you end up flat broke and penny pinching. All the people who splash their money like there’s no tomorrow are usually the first people looking for any way to save any money they get their hands on. Believe me because I’ve been that broke student. I’ve spent money on take outs when I could have simply cooked. I’ve had arguments with house mates on who’s turn it was to put money on the electric and gas, when it was probably mine and money was tight. As my mama loves to say ‘Control your money, don’t let it control you’.
The whole point of being where you are now is to get life experience for the real world, so train yourself. If you have to, get a job, because student loan will not support you as well as you think. Spend reasonably and save money in different ways within your current account. You don’t want to be that person who constantly says, “I have no money” when everyone does and wants a night out. How dreary.
Make sure you know what you’re entitled to as a student, from a free cheeseburger at McDonalds to getting 20% off purchases at retail outlets. GET A DAMN NUS CARD and better. A railcard too! Exploit all the freebies and enjoy all the privileges of being a student, it doesn’t last forever. Student discount is a student’s BEST friend.
But for now, Freshers’ week is around the corner so laugh, socialise, party, drink and be safe! . .
Follow me on Twitter: @Oloni