Dear First Years,
Are you excited yet? You should be; university can be a great experience. It’s a new chapter in your life that’s yours to craft. If you ever wanted to suddenly learn to play netball or have a go at creative writing, now is the time. If you’re committed to your plan to become an astronaut, you can take the first steps to making that happen.
But if you’re a little bit more scared than you are excited, that’s ok too. Change isn’t always comfortable and there’s going to be plenty of that coming your way. But don’t feel alone in that. Reach out – to the staff, your family, your old friends, your new friends. Let them know how you feel and don’t let it stop you. Homesickness or nervousness is natural and you won’t be the only one who is feeling it, trust me. Ask for help if you need it; there will be plenty of people willing to listen.
Emotional confusion aside, I sincerely hope you enjoy your time at university. I loved it and it was one of the most worthwhile things that I have done. It helped me find my passion, my skills and a whole heap of people that have taught me more than just my syllabus. I hope you can find what you need from it too, whatever that may be.
Don’t worry if that doesn’t happen right away. There will be tough moments, of stress and self doubt. Unfortunately, it happens. Putting pressure on yourself to have the.best.time.ever won’t help. Life isn’t some perfect montage out of a film and you shouldn’t expect your time at university to be any different. If the rough periods seem to be lasting a while, ask for help and extra support. Obviously I can only draw on my experiences at St Andrews, but there are people there who can help. Whether it’s just listening to your concerns or taking the time to go over something you didn’t understand from class, it can really make the difference to your university experience. I wish I had learnt this a little sooner, as it really helped me to feel settled and supported during my degree.
Speaking of classes, do the work. It makes things considerably easier. And, after all, you are at university to learn! Keeping up with it during term reduces your stress around exam and deadline time, which is a good thing. Just make sure you do things other than work too. Make the most of your time at university and all that involves.
Finally, don’t wish the time away. It goes fast enough without it! Squeeze what you can from it, pace yourself and enjoy it.