Blimey, where the summer has gone? Sorry to burst your tropical bubble but…September is here. While August has left us for another year, most of us have probably started thinking about uni and planning our comeback.
While second and third years know what to expect from this year (more or less), newcomers might feel a little (!) nervous. This is where I come in, your fellow third year student who also doesn’t know what to expect from life but is always open to give advice. Happy reading!
Fear of being the newbie
You’re the newbie…so what! Coming from another country and being a ‘foreigner’, I had my doubts on not being accepted and feeling lonely amongst people since I was going to be the ‘newbie’. I can guarantee you that no one here at the University of Suffolk will treat you any different, we’re all equals.
Don’t stay silent, especially in the classroom. Everyone in that room had to start from somewhere and chances are, they too feel nervous about their first year. Communication is so, so important. Talk to people, discuss topics you enjoy, challenge yourself and others with your ideas, talk to your tutors and lecturers, own your voice! You deserve to be in that classroom as much as the others!
If you push yourself in a corner and don’t talk to anyone, they will feel hesitant to make the first move. Let them know that you’re there and you have a voice. Remember that in first year, everyone is new, just like you.
For people coming from other cities, countries, etc: don’t go overboard with your packing! Trust me, you don’t need four pillows and your mini fridge…
Since I had to move from another country, I had to pack nearly all my clothes for uni; my summer clothes and winter. If you don’t have the chance to visit home often, take your essentials in one go.
If you’re going to live in halls, don’t bring loads of stuff! Most of the accommodation is furnished, so definitely check before you arrive.
Again, if you’re travelling from another country, you might want to buy your flat necessities (duvet, bedsheets, bin, stationary, kitchen stuff…) when you get here as you’re limited with what you can carry in your luggage.
Depending of your course, you’ll be given essays, projects, reports and will be expected to attend your classes regularly. At first, it might feel strange or boring to sit down and revise or start your first assignment but you have to remember that once you start, it gets easier.
One of the first things you can do to keep yourself in track is adding your deadlines in your calendar or a separate sheet of paper and hang it somewhere you can see.
Always start early. I can’t stress this enough. Starting early will help you to do your research more broadly, and will give you the flexibility to change your mind and focus on other topics without worrying about the time. Get a planner and bring it to your classes so you can always write down what you have to do for your next classes.
Most importantly, don’t try to take other people as an example. I’ve done this a lot in my first year. Everyone is different and has different ways of revising or doing their work. Don’t bring yourself down just because your technique is different than the others; find a technique that works for you.
If you start realising that your grades aren’t what you expected them to be, talk to your tutor. Don’t ever hesitate to contact your personal tutor or any of your lecturers. They’re there to help you out and trust me, they’re always good with listening and helping you with developing your ideas.
Dealing with homesickness and living independently
I’ve talked to some first years who are coming to Suffolk this year and one of their first concerns is how to start living independently. Living on your own sounds scary to many of us.
First things first, try to relax. There are tons of people who are just like you; trying to adapt to living far away from home or dealing with both coursework and daily life, money, etc. Although it takes you some time to get used to being away from your family, friends or home, you’ll definitely get there.
Whenever you get too tired of doing everything on your own, think about how much you’ve worked to be where you are and how much you’ve wanted to study what you’re studying. Remember to approach things with a positive and open mind; such as the city/town you’re in right now, your new friends, lecturers, university, etc! Give them a chance and see what happens.
Sick of staying inside and doing work? GET OUT! Go on walks (the waaterfront is the best for long walks), go to a café; don’t stay in all day. We all need some quality time for ourselves. I know some people find it weird, but I love going to the cinema by myself or getting coffee, going on an adventure (I go on a hunt to discover new green areas and parks…).
In terms of budgeting and money, you’ll have to be a bit more careful. Always be aware of the amount you’re spending, and you can also try to monitor how much you’ve spent on things by writing them down. Try learning new recipes and if you already made friends or are cool with your flatmates, you guys can cook together.
For me, it’s been amazing having my own space and deciding on things by myself, according to the rules I’ve set for myself. Know your rules and try not to take life too seriously. And don’t be afraid to talk to someone if you’re feeling down or homesick. Our university offers an amazing support system where you can get more information from Infozone (at Waterfront Building) which can help you with various things such as problems within your course or friends, and many more topics.
You can also always talk to any of your tutors or anyone you might feel close to at uni. Also, talk to your family as much as you can. They’ll want to hear from you and see if you’re doing okay. If you want to read more on dealing with homesickness and adapting to your new life, you might want to check my previous blogpost.
And lastly, here’s a big, fat GOOD LUCK just for you!