What my First Year at Uni Taught me

I keep looking back in disbelief at the fact that I’ve actually finished first year already. All I can think about is how this time last year I was just starting to get super nervous about moving away to Uni.

I didn’t think for one minute I would be the type who would take to Uni life easily and, to be honest, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t stick it out.

But here we are, one year on, and I can honestly say I’ve had the best/most transformative year. Here are five random things my first year at University has taught me:

  1. Try things, even if you’re 99% sure you know what the outcome will be – you might surprise yourself. I genuinely believed Uni would not be for me and that I wouldn’t stick it out for very long. I just love being around my family and in an environment I know. To my surprise, after the day I moved I rarely got homesick at all, and Derby started to feel like a second home. Even if you think there is no hope of something working out, if it’s something you want to try, go for it! It might not be right for you and that’s ok, but then again you may surprise yourself and take to it like a duck to water. Ultimately the outcome doesn’t really matter, but you’ll never know unless you give it a try! Being young is all about trying new things, making mistakes and figuring yourself out.
  2. You don’t have to like drinking and go on nights out all the time to meet friends at Uni. I was super worried about this – I really don’t drink very often and I kind of thought the main way to make friends at Uni was going out in Freshers. To me, seven nights on the trot of drinking sounded exhausting (I’m not the lively 18 year old I once was!) As it happens, I needn’t have worried. You will just naturally gravitate towards your people – you won’t even have to think about it. None of my best friends at Uni were made on nights out; in fact, I literally went on one night out during Freshers. So if you don’t like drinking or are just an introvert who needs a lot of time to yourself, don’t worry. Take as much time as you need and trust that you will still make friends just the same as everybody else.
  3. Trust your gut instinct. During the Christmas break was the first time I started having doubts about the course I was on. To start with I didn’t want to listen to that nagging feeling and didn’t want to believe that I may have made the wrong decision again. I hoped it was just doubts because I was away from Uni and had a lot of time to think. Those feelings, however, only started to get stronger and I knew I had to do something about it. I’m a firm believer that when you get a little gut instinct about something (anything) in life, those feelings don’t tend to ‘just go away’. I’m really glad I chose to listen to my instinct that I was doing the wrong course and do something about it, instead of burying those feelings and lying to myself. Although it was a hard stage to accept and navigate, it’s going to benefit me in the long run.
  4. Spreadsheets are your friend. I’m not the best at budgeting, but I’m also certainly not the worst, which is all down to my trusty spreadsheets. It’s so worth sorting out your finances before the start of the academic year and working out a rough weekly budget for yourself. Even more importantly, keep track of everything (and I mean everything) you spend. It doesn’t have to be complicated. I literally just write everything down in my phone and then on Sunday stick my weekly spendings into a spreadsheet. It doesn’t have to be strict – some weeks I go over and some I go under, it’s just a good way of keeping tabs on what I should have spent so far vs what I actually have.
  5. Needing to separate clothes by colour to wash them is an absolute myth. When you’re paying £3 a wash, it’s worth the risk.

I always say this but I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone and how much of a different person I am from this time last year. Who else is just coming to the end of first year, and what have you learned from the experience?

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