What I Wish I’d Known Before Coming to University: A Second Year’s Perspective

Current 2nd year Politics & Philosophy student Ted Poel shares his advice for incoming first years on how to make the most of their University experience.

Starting university is an incredibly stressful event, not made any less so by people constantly bombarding you with their advice on what you should and shouldn’t do.  In a complex web of confusing and often conflicting sets of advice, I am here to simplify this process for you and provide you with the definitive guide of what to know before you come to University.

  1. Be positive

I am naturally quite a cynical person, so this was hard for me.  However, when I look back on my first few weeks, one of my biggest regrets is not throwing myself into things more.  Seeing the best in what’s on offer is not only going to make you enjoy your first weeks more, but it will also make adjusting to Uni life a lot easier.  Also, everyone else will be finding the experience just as overwhelming and are more likely to gravitate towards people they see as friendly and upbeat to begin with, so it will serve you well to make a good first impression.

Ted in his first year at John’s.

2. Try not to care too much

A lot of people go into Freshers’ Week expecting some sort of life changing experience to take place and end up feeling disappointed by the end of it.  I think it is better to go into it all without these kinds of expectations and enjoy it for what it is, as this way you are more likely to engage with what’s going on and actually have new experiences.

3. Bring food

I have done this at every stage of my life where I have had to meet a lot of new people and it has never failed me.  If you bring a big batch of brownies, or whatever you prefer, and give them out to people you meet, it’s guaranteed to help you make friends.  Also, if you’re finding your newfound fame overwhelming, you can simply put them away in your room.  It’s fool proof. 

4. It’s never too late

If there’s any advice that I can give based on my own experiences of first year, it’s that you can ignore all this advice and you’ll still be fine. I did none of the above when I arrived at John’s (even the brownie trick) and I really didn’t do justice to my first few weeks. However, I’m now able to say that I feel far more involved in things and have managed to make lots of amazing friends.  So honestly don’t worry about feeling like you have missed the boat, because if my experience is anything to go on, then it is never too late to throw yourself in and people will always be willing to get to know you and give you a chance.

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