Written by Robert Liow
Being a fresher isn’t easy. I should know – like you, I was one!
One of the biggest things that affected my wellbeing was the stress of exams. Coming from Singapore, I arrived at university with a background that made academic performance a priority. I remember my parents constantly encouraged me to study, and being so far from home felt like coasting downhill after someone had taken their foot off the pedal. I still felt the need to perform, but at the same time I didn’t have anyone pushing me to study.
This newfound independence was both liberating and confusing. I had the opportunity to have nights out, mostly with the “party friends” I made in the common room of my intercollegiate halls. I was free to take part in student activism and work on my writing. At the same time, though, as a law student, I found it a struggle to balance my social life and activism with my studies. I found myself falling behind on tutorial work and struggling to understand concepts that were being discussed in class.
After performing disastrously in my January exams, I broke. I lay in bed for a full day after my final mock exam. Even though they didn’t count, I knew I’d done horribly. I felt ashamed of myself, and I felt extremely anxious for the real exams in May, but I knew I had to do something before the stress destroyed me.
Inspired by one of my favourite anime, I committed to doing a little every day. I made it a point to study for at least 1 hour and write 100 words each day, whether those words were for my notes or for creative projects.
This small, achievable commitment drastically reduced my stress levels. On one hand, I didn’t feel guilty and stressed out that I hadn’t done anything. On the other hand, I wasn’t completely preoccupied with my studies, and I had time to go out, have fun, and do things.
Through consistent but manageable work and a final push in the days leading up to the examinations, I managed to both deal with my stress and get a decent 2:1 in my first year. I even got a first for one of my modules, which is pretty impressive considering how tough law is.
Fresher year is a wonderful opportunity for you to get involved in student life! Manage your time well, make time for regular study (or, if you’re studying all the time, for regular relaxation), and you’ll have a much easier time.
Here are some helpful links:
If you need help finding the right balance in your life, you can check out the King’s Wellbeing page. King’s Wellbeing provides coaching and wellbeing workshops to help you take care of yourselves!
Alternatively, if you feel like you need mental health support, King’s has a Counselling and Mental Health Support team who can help you. King’s has also subscribed to the Big White Wall, a safe and anonymous 24/7 online support service that you can use at any time.
Finally, if you are a disabled student who needs help with your studies, you can contact King’s Disability Support Team, especially to get reasonable adjustments through a King’s Inclusion Plan.