You're Accepted! .... Now What?

Amy shares ten things she wish she knew about preparing for uni.

Absolutely nothing compares to that feeling when the email drops into your inbox saying that something has changed on your UCAS university application. You log on and realise you’ve been accepted to the uni you’ve had your eye on ever since the open day last year ... pure joy!

However, as exciting as it is, once you recover your wits you're certain to realise that the journey has just begun, and you have lot to do to prepare. To give you an edge, here are a few things I wish I had known about when I was getting ready to leave for uni.

1. Freshers events 

During fresher’s week there are so many events and activities to get involved with, from the freshers Fayre, where there are some really cool things to bag for free or some awesome student discounts (Dominos pizza ones are always good) to the freshers parties you can go to. Don’t forget your fancy dress for the pirate party or space party! Individual departments and schools host their own events in addition to the uni-wide ones, and you'll get a chance to meet people on your courses, too.

2. Reading lists are there for a reason.

If your course provides you with a reading list (English definitely will do!) get a head start over summer. I get that you have just spent two years at college reading and it is probably the last thing on your mind, but I can promise you that reading the books before you start your first semester will make your life so much easier.

3. Living in halls/with other people

If you're living in halls, be prepared for the give and take that comes with living with a completely random group of people. In a way, it is like being in a real life Big Brother house. There will people there that you don’t really get along with all the time because they leave their dirty plates on the side for weeks on end, but then again you will make some of the best friends in being there. Take the good with the bad and enjoy it, because it is a great experience!

4. Be flexible.

This is possibly the most important one of all. You need to be flexible in all aspects of university life. Flexible with work, friends, food, studying … basically everything. You will need to get used to a new way of living, and that isn’t going to be easy if you aren’t willing to bend. You'll eventually work out a routine that is good for you, but a lot depends on your class timetables, your work schedule if you have a job, etc. If you're too attached to a certain idea of how things will be at the start, you'll get frustrated fast.

5. Take advantage of your surroundings. 

Living somewhere different from where you have probably spent the majority of your life is an amazing experience and you should take full advantage of it! There are so many beautiful places in the surrounding areas so jump on a bus, get in the car or go for a walk and discover them yourself! Not only that, but take advantage of the beautiful campus as well and discover the many different areas on campus! (take a look at this article written by Holly Challinor for a glimpse of the gorgeous Penryn Campus

6. Look after yourself. 

You may potentially be living on your own, meaning that you are going to have to learn to look after yourself. This includes everything from washing your own clothes (because having no jeans left and walking round in shorts in the middle of November is not fun) to the dreaded cooking for yourself and making sure you have a somewhat balanced diet. It may be an idea to learn how to cook something other than pasta before you come to Uni!

7. Lectures are important, and the structure is different to school and college. 

It’s easy to get caught up in all the fun that you’re having with the new set of friends that you’ve made, and while it is good to go out and socialise, make sure that you have a balance. Remember the real reason that you have come to uni, which is to get a degree! Uni is much more independent than school and college; while support is readily available, you have be prepared to think for yourself and do what's asked of you the first time (your marks depend on it). And remember, EVERYONE feels like they have been thrown in at the deep end!

8. Know your support system.

It's totally normal for you to struggle slightly. Just make sure that you know who is around to help you, and don't be shy about asking friends and uni support services when you need help. Everyone is in the same boat, so talk to your friends, both new and old. You will be assigned a personal tutor who is there to help with everything, whether it be to do with your course, or something personal they are there to point you in the right direction. There are always people to help and you should NEVER feel like you are on your own!

9. Comfort zones are meant to be pushed.

This was a big one for me. University is a time where you should push yourself! Try new things and try to be open minded about whether it's "you" or not. Push yourself both personally but also academically! The lecturers in our department are pretty good about letting you take risks and do things differently (some demand it!), and that's a major part of discovering who you are as a creative person as much as anything else.

10. You WILL find your feet. 

The first few weeks of uni are so daunting, and the general anxiety of making friends and whether or not you're performing well enough academically is bound to creep in. It may take time, but as everyone settles down you start to realise who has similar interests to you, and that everyone is dealing with performance anxiety. Joining societies is a great way to make friends with likeminded people. Just be yourself, relax, and go

by Amy Hardman