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Advice for first year students

By GamuRLA 20 Nov 2023

Starting university can be very unsettling experience. First year at university is about adjustment, growth and self discovery. As a second year student who has successfully navigated the challenges of first year , I understand the uncertainty you might be feeling. Here are some pieces of advice that I wish I had received when I started, and believe will help you in your transition into university life:

1. Get a Mentor

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This could be someone from your course in a year above, a faculty member, or a professional in your field of interest. They will help you navigate the complexities of university life, guide you in your career,  answer questions you have about your course,  and offer guidance on your course. Often mentors have a good network so you have to keep a good relationship with them because later you might need their reference and network to help guide your career decisions.

2. Use your Calendar

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As unreal as this may seem, you must use your calendar. If your university allows,  integrate or sync your phone calendar with your school timetable. University can be busy, with lectures, assignments, and social events and you will want to stay on top of everything. Keeping track of all this can be overwhelming but a blessing when you have it all in one place where you can make instant decisions about whether to attend certain club events or socials on the go. You can organize tasks, deadlines, and events and be able to manage your time more easily thus reducing stress on top of your responsibilities.

3. Prepare Premade Meals

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Eating healthy is important but the demands of university life can make it tempting to rely on easy fast food from Just Eat or snacks. Falling into unhealthy eating habits is easy to do and to prevent this from happening consider premade meals. Batch cook meals on a weekend. This will save you time and money during the week, ensuring that at least you have one nutritious meal per day readily available to you. Trust me it is easier to make a premade meal for less that £3 than to get a meal deal. It takes less than 10 minutes to make a sandwich so why not wake up early to make your lunch and save yourself a few pounds to get something later on?

4. Prioritise Exercise


Regular exercise is not just beneficial for your body but for you mental wellbeing as well. Find an exercise routine that you enjoy, whether its jogging , yoga, dancing or team sports. Being a part of Cardiff university gives you a range of choice because of the abundance of university sports facilities. Engaging in regular exercise will boost your energy, reduce stress, and enhance your mood to help you maintain a healthy balance between academics and social life.

5.Register with a GP


Your health is paramount, so it's essential to register with a local General Practitioner (GP) as soon as you arrive on campus. Have a chat with your GP if your vaccinations are up to date, more stress on international students as you will be in a new environment. Having a registered GP ensures that you have access to medical support whenever you need it, giving you peace of mind as you focus on your studies.

6. Gather Peer Insights


Lastly, don't underestimate the power of learning from your fellow students. They might have valuable tips on professors, study materials, and campus life. Engage in conversations, attend study groups, and participate in Residence Life activities. Sharing experiences with your peers can provide unique perspectives and help you navigate the challenges of the first year more effectively. They will also help you to understand all the services that the university has to offer including learning a new language for free.

In conclusion, your first year at university is a time of immense growth and self-discovery. By getting a mentor, joining clubs, using a calendar, preparing healthy meals, exercising, registering with a GP, seeking advice from university services, and learning from your peers, you can make the most out of this transformative period. Remember, you are not alone; there is a vast support network available to help you succeed. Embrace the opportunities, stay resilient, and enjoy the journey – it's the first step towards a brighter future.