So I have been at Staffs Uni now for half a semester and lots has happened. Lots will happen in anyone’s first few weeks so I thought I would write a little about how life has been for me to give you a glimpse into a possibility of what might happen.
I have already done a blog on welcome week so I won’t go into too much detail but I have a few observations about welcome week as I look back on it now that I am into a routine here. Like most people I definitely worried too much about welcome week. I was worried that I hadn’t made friends and that I hadn’t done everything I was ‘supposed’ to, and how I would get my shopping and washing and cleaning and cooking done as well as my work. It will get done and it does because in the end, you don’t have any choice but to do it. That is a good thing in university life, you have to get self-sufficient fast or you don’t eat. I know one or two who just said they would have takeaway or plain pasta and within the week, they had started trying out new things. You will see the least likely people doing their washing by the second week out of necessity as no one wants to be the kid that doesn’t wash so it gets done.
Welcome week really isn’t as scary as it can seem, it is just a chance to get used to the uni and uni life without the pressures of uni work to do or proper lectures to remember.
Getting a job
For me there was no way that I wouldn’t be working at university. There are several reasons for that. First, student loans are great but just in case I didn’t budget well enough for the first couple of payments, I wanted to have money coming in so I could at least get the essentials without having to ask for help. Again this is great for learning how to be independent although is not completely necessary as I know people who are fine without a job.
Second, I wanted to get some work experience which, while not actually related to my career path, would add to my cv. For my chosen career as a psychologist you can’t get much work experience without an undergraduate degree due to the nature of the work so some work experience in other fields is better than nothing.
Lectures have settled into a good routine by now which helps as I’m now not thinking about anything in the lectures (like who to sit with or what is expected of me) but the lectures themselves. I am also getting used to the amount of independent study which is needed along with the lectures. I don’t think I was expecting that much work but if you keep on top of it and try to do it the same day or week as the lecture then it is manageable.
Again I have done a post on this already so don’t want to put down too much but the first assignment will always be scary as you don’t know the format well and you don’t know exactly what the tutors are expecting. My first one was an essay and I knew how to set out essays but I didn’t know if that was how my tutors expected it to be set out. I knew some things to put in it but didn’t know if that’s what was expected. Also, unfortunately I am a perfectionist, which means I want everything to be perfect immediately. Half a semester in to a three year course and reality tells you it is not going to be a perfect assignment with no errors and a brilliant depth of knowledge with lots of critical evaluation. I don’t have it back yet as it wasn’t that long ago that I submitted it but I’m sure it will have lots of comments and constructive criticism. What’s important is to go through that criticism and work out where it needs to be better next time and how to achieve it. For my assignment, tutors were not allowed to read through it before the hand in date to give any pointers and could only answer generalised questions. However, my tutor has already offered to go through it with me afterwards in more detail to look at where I went wrong if I need it.
During the first week I didn’t think I would make really good friends at university and I wanted to give up but it is important to keep trying and keep believing you will meet the right people. Everyone said to me, don’t worry if the first person you meet isn’t your kind of person but I was still so worried when someone was not the kind of person I wanted to hang out with. Of course first up are your flat mates to meet and I was determined to try and get to know them and see how we got along. Luckily through doing that I have two amazing friends who are just like me and totally get me. We can all just be ourselves around each other and it makes chores like cooking, washing up and cleaning so much more fun as we just chat and laugh at the same time.
Outside of flat mates, finding people on your course is another source of friendships. You are likely to spend the next three years with these people so it’s a good idea to get to know as many as possible. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to be best buddies with everyone but getting on speaking terms is a good idea so when you are put into groups or pairs randomly, it isn’t super awkward because you have never even said hello.
The third good way to meet new friends is through joining clubs and societies. I went to a dancing taster session and met someone who I have kept up with and danced with ever since. It is nice to have different friends from different places as it just gives you people to talk to or go out with. I also find it makes the campus a less scary place when I see people I know and say hello to, it feels friendly.
There are many other ways to make friends such as friends of friends who become your friends, but these are the main ones I have found so far.
The weekends I go home are my most precious weekends. Even though I already cooked for myself before I left for home, I didn’t realise how much I relied on my parents to do all the boring, but necessary, stuff to allow me to get on with course work. The week that my first marked assignment was due in was reading week for my course so I decided to travel home to concentrate on the assignment rather than the cooking and cleaning. The take home message from this is to plan carefully when you will shop, clean and cook otherwise you get to the end of a day and realise you haven’t had time for university work. Also if you have a job you have to plan that in as well.
Traveling home via the trains is never the most fun of activities but having the train station so close is brilliant and in an hour and a half I can be in London (which is not home, I still have two more trains, but makes it easier than cross country)
Going out (or not)
Before coming to university I believed, like I think a lot of people do, that you have to go clubbing every night or you just don’t fit in. This isn’t the case!!!! Don’t get me wrong some people will want to go out every night for the first couple of weeks and even keep it up most nights after that, but there are loads of people who don’t and also lots that do are understanding if you don’t want to. Clubbing isn’t really my thing so I go with my flatmates to Ember lounge (an on campus pub/restaurant) for food or to the karaoke nights or we stay in and more importantly, if they go out and I don’t want to, they don’t judge me for it. There is plenty to do as well as Ember, such as the monkey forest nearby which I am currently planning to visit with my flat mates, Trentham gardens, and the potteries shopping centre.
Societies and clubs
So far I have joined one society and one sports club. I picked the psychology society as I love the subject and it’s another way to meet more new people. It is a really nice community and the people who run it are really friendly and run sessions to help prepare for exams or little presentations on interesting psychological ideas. For example the last meeting was about the psychology of Halloween and why people believe what they do and where Halloween originated and psychologically what it means. The club I joined is dance. I have been dancing for 13 years so it seemed natural to join this one. It is great for getting out of the flat and stopping work for a bit to do some exercise. Also it is a lot of fun with people who also love to dance.