Starting University is a roller-coaster of crazy emotions and new experiences. It's really exciting, but it can also be quite overwhelming and possibly even difficult to deal with at first. It’s a series of big changes all at once.
But fear not, we’ve put together a shortlist of things every fresher should know to hopefully help you through (because you’ve got this!)
1. IT’S NORMAL (AND TOTALLY OK) TO FEEL HOMESICK
Moving away to university is probably the first time you have lived alone. And although that can be daunting, there are positives too. You will meet lots of people, experience new things and you will learn a lot now you are living independently.
Everyone will feel homesick at some point, so remember a lot of your fellow students are also in the same boat. Make sure to talk to your friends and family for comfort, and take some time out to go explore your new home Maybe even consider joining a community, society or sports team to meet others who might just be on the exact same roller-coaster with you.
Check out our article ‘making friends’ for ideas on how to meet new people who might be looking for a friend to help with their homesickness too.
2. GET INTO SOME SORT OF ROUTINE
Once the wild ride that’s Fresher's Fortnight has calmed down a little, try and put yourself into some kind of routine so you can form healthy habits when it comes to studying. Keeping a balance of work hard, play hard is key to making the most of your time at Essex.
3. REMEMBER THE BORING ADMIN STUFF
This sounds stupid, but amongst all the excitement of your life-changing so quickly, don’t forget to do the important life admin things - like enrolling and paying bills on time! And make sure to check your Essex email account regularly as that’s where your department will send you all the important information and updates that you’ll need to know.
4. THINK AHEAD: FIND A PLACE TO LIVE NEXT YEAR
It’s not going to be the first thing you think about, but scouting around the local area and having an idea of where you are going to live (and who you are going to live with) next year will give you a huge head start. Aim to do this around Christmas.
And did you know, we've got our own letting agency; SUHomes. You can find them on Colchester campus just off Square 3 (in the corridor next to SU Bar).
And if you are looking off-campus, SU Advice provides essential advice on housing and tenancy agreements, so make sure you go to them with your contract before signing to make sure that everything is fair and correct.
5. BUDGETING: KNOW YOUR BANK BALANCE
Learning how to budget is a crucial part of being a student. Keep an eye on the pennies and always ask about discount!
There are always discounts and offers on-campus across different venues and events: last year the SU also introduced the SU saver card which is available to all members and gives you daily deals around campus. Plus if you get a part-time job with the SU you also receive various discounts across all the venues.
For more tips on how to manage money, read our article with tips on how to manage your money.
6. ATTEND AS MANY MIXERS/EVENTS AS YOU CAN
One of the best ways to combat all the feelings that come with moving away from home for the first time is to meet new people, try new things and make new friends.
And you can’t do that sitting in your bedroom.
Try to attend as many mixers and events that you can (but make sure to keep that work/life balance).
However, we know starting University can be tough, and if you feel like you are struggling with all the changes, we’re here for you. Visit SU Advice for free confidential support for anything that’s on your mind.
7. DON’T BE AFRAID OF MAKING MISTAKES OR ASKING FOR HELP
A lot of your first year is about learning how to juggle your responsibilities and adapt to changes, and we'll be honest, things might not always go perfectly to plan. The good news? That doesn't matter.
A natural part of life is making mistakes, so don’t worry, everyone does it - just learn from it. There is so much support available while you're here, so don't be afraid to ask for help! Whether you need directions to The Store or support around exam season, we've got you covered.
SU Advice is our on-campus service dedicated to helping you out when you need us. And if you are feeling a little lost, SU Reception are there to help too.
8. LECTURES ARE IMPORTANT
Get into a good routine of following your timetable and turning up to lectures early on so you are less tempted to stray later in the year.
First year is really important for learning how to organise yourself and learn how lectures/tutorials/practices and classes work. This is essential for doing well in your second and third years.
It’s a good chance to experiment with your assignments and study practices to see what works for you. And it’s good to make as many mistakes as you can now, so you don’t make them later when it matters more.
Remember, the main reason you're at uni is to get an amazing degree (even though the nights out are great too).
Essex is the perfect place to step outside of your shell and try something new, so why not take up a brand-new sport (check out our '5 Sports you probably haven't played before' article), or join a new society. You could even choose to perform at open mic night, volunteer at a local school or even study part-time abroad...the possibilities are endless!
10. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR FRESHERS EXPERIENCE
Although you might go through more than one fresher’s fortnight during your time at Essex, University flashes by in the blink of an eye, so make the most of your first year (it’ll be the only first year you’ll have).
Don’t forget to pick up your heirloom after registration, as it’s your customisable symbol of belonging to the SU. Consider it our way of saying: “Welcome to the family!”
The SU has your back, and we are here if you need help, advice, or just want to let off some steam and have a good time.
It might not seem like it now, but you will find your feet, find your place and find your people.
You got this!