Having graduated after three topsy-turvy years of university, sometimes I wish I could go back in time and tell my first-year self what I know now. Though I cannot go back in time, I can pass on the lessons I’ve learnt and some tips and tricks to new and current students. Here are eight things I wish I’d known in my first year:
1. Get a student Oyster card:
It took me two years before I finally got mine, and I definitely wish I had known about it sooner. The truth is, you are in London and it’s likely that you’ll travel a lot on public transport. While convenient, London transport is often the opposite of affordable. The savings with a student Oyster card add up, especially if you end up using it for the whole three years. Trust me.
2. Learn to say ‘NO’!
I get it now. I wanted to go to every party, every social, every gathering. We all want to make friends from the start, and sadly, peer pressure is real and you will feel it at some point or another. But, it’s okay to say no and spend some time by yourself absorbing the new things and people you’ve just met. Starting university can be overwhelming, and it’s good to take some time to reflect on this new experience. I wish I had said no at numerous points and not felt pressured to go to everything just to feel a sense of belonging.
3. Do not ignore spring week:
CALLING ALL JOB SEEKERS: You cannot miss spring week. Spring week is like applying for a job, except it is a weeklong internship, which provides you with valuable experience with your chosen organization. If you do well in spring week, chances are they’ll offer you a longer internship throughout the year or in the summer, and even a subsequent graduate program.
4. Find what you love doing:
First year is the best time to discover what you love. Join societies. Be curious. Explore! You will see that each year is weighted differently in terms of its contribution to your final degree grade. For most degrees, first year is the one that will have the least impact, and because of this, first year is the best time to easily transition into university life and find yourself. Second and third year are more academically challenging and your grades are often a lot more important than your first year grades, so use this time to its fullest.
Get a TOTUM card and create accounts on one of the various student discount websites/apps. From shopping to food, you’ll be able to save with a plethora of deals and offers. Even showing your student card at McDonald’s could land you an extra bite. Remember, discounts can often become your saviour. If only I had known these things in my first year, I would have saved a lot of money!
6. Your first friends will not always be your closest friends:
The first friends you make at university usually have a special place in our lives, and for good reason, but they might not always be the only ones out there. Throughout your time at university, there will be other friends who care and understand you more and who just bring in a more positive vibe. Your first friends will not be the ‘be all and end all’, so don’t stress too much if you think you haven’t found the perfect friendship group just yet. It might take some time for you to meet the people that get you.
7. Time flies:
I know you’re probably tired of hearing this from your family members and friends, but three years just passed by without me even realising. Time flies when you’re having fun, and when you’re constantly studying! Please make the most of it. Make memories. Take lots of pictures and videos. You will cherish them later!
8. Do not skip tutorials:
Don’t do it! Especially if the tutorial is marked or your attendance is recorded. I get that we can be busy at times, or just hungover. Going to class at 10am on three hours sleep is rough, but do you know what I found worse? Missing a 1st or 2:1 mark in that one module by one or two percent. That hit hard. Unless you are willing to risk taking that hit, make sure you attend your tutorials and seminars!
That’s it from me – for now. I hope this helps you in your time here at King’s. Although I think my life at university would’ve been easier if someone had given me similar advice, everyone’s journey is different. We are here for the experience. Everyone is unique, so take this information with a pinch of salt, if you will. But the one piece of advice I can share with confidence is this: always, and I mean ALWAYS, have fun!
VP Welfare & Communities