University: First Year!

So, first off, it has been a ridiculous amount of time since I last wrote a blog post. Life got in the way etc etc. So let’s get straight to it.

I can’t believe my first year of university is done. All practical performances out of the way. All assignments handed in. That’s it. I can’t believe how fast it has gone. It feels like yesterday I was sat in the Sixth Form study centre, going over and over my UCAS application, redrafting my personal statement a million times, and ultimately, changing universities right before freshers week. It hasn’t been the most conventional year by any means, and there have been highs and lows, but ultimately I know I’ve spent the last year in the right place.

Time to get the ball rolling – here are some things that my first year of university has taught me:

  • Yes, you do need money for food and rent.

Pay rent first, buy other things later. You need somewhere to live most importantly, so set up a direct debit with the university, and make sure that’s paid before you have to worry about it. And I’ll say it now – not every student lives off beans on toast. If you plan ahead and don’t overspend, you can cook all sorts of meals. I always buy loads of fruit and veg; some of my favourite meals include fajitas, chilli and other dishes that create leftovers – perfect for lunch the next day. As long as you budget and stick to it, you will have plenty of pennies for your accommodation, delicious meals and whatever else takes your fancy. I would say I haven’t really been strapped for cash this year, especially with working the odd shift over the Christmas and Easter holidays, and this is because I’ve planned ahead and kept track of my spending. (Oooooh, finance is so exciting isn’t it)

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  • Find budget ways to enjoy yourself.

If you’re a film fanatic, try CEX for cheap DVD’s at 50p to £1 – I’ve grabbed loads of great ones over the last year, from chick flicks to dramatic movies. Go for a walk and explore the city that you’re going to be living in for 3 years, you may as well get to know it. Worcester is great for this, with its parks and paths by the River Severn. Have a pizza night in your halls/house – it’s an amazing way to socialise, have a laugh, and eat great food! Not everyone is into clubs and partying every night – I know I’m not. There are so many ways to have fun without doing this!

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  • Take loads of photos.

When I started uni, I decided I wanted to keep a scrapbook full of memories, photographs and tickets from all of my adventures with friends, family and my boyfriend. With the help of Paperchase, my Instax Mini Camera and Aldi Photos, I’ve kept up with it pretty well so far, and it has also motivated me to do more exciting things, just so I can remember them in my scrapbook. It’ll be an amazing thing to have when I’m old and grey and want to look back on my youth!

On a side note, the taking photos applies to your uni life in general too. Make sure to take photos of your accommodation when you move in, especially if there is any noticeable damages to it – this can save you when it comes to deposits at the end of the year. As a drama student, I’ve found it also helps to take photos in rehearsals, to remember certain scenes or movements, as well as using the pictures as part of my assignments. 

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  • Fill your days off with plans.

One thing I really struggled with when I first started uni was how much extra time I had (weird, I know). I was used to filling my days with work, revision or plans with friends, to the point where if I had a day to myself, I didn’t know where to even begin. Obviously, get your rehearsals, research and assignments done first. But, after this, I think the best thing to do is create projects for yourself – start a blog, write a book or even join a gym – to fill your days when you’re at a loss. Even if one of those days is set aside for a movie marathon, or binge watching your favourite Netflix show. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of constantly scrolling through social media, being unproductive and becoming lethargic and lazy. We’re all guilty of this every now and then! Message a friend and go for a coffee date, have a baking day or go shopping. Get out of the house where possible! One example is that myself a few friends spontaneously decided to see a comedy play at Malvern Theatre – this was unplanned but so much fun!

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  • Your friendships will change.

Again, this was a revelation for me with university. Everyone tells you that you will make friends for life at university, but I do think a lot of people fall into a trap of thinking they will only ever be friends with those they met at school or sixth form. It’s completely normal to make new friends, lose old friends, maintain old friendships, chop and change and all manner of things when making friends. Don’t let yourself get weighed down with worrying about who your friends are; those who want to be will stick around. I didn’t become good friends with some of my uni pals until later on in the year – be patient. Just be a good friend to those who are good to you and surround yourself with those who support and care about you. It’ll pay off.

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  • Make plans for summer well in advance.

So, if you read my previous post about my plans for summer 2017, you’ll know I thought about this a while ago. I think the main things to think about for summer are getting a job (only do this if you need the extra cash, otherwise you might fall into a pattern of working constantly and wasting your summer!), seeing all the people you haven’t in a long time, and getting some rest. I’ve got a holiday to Spain booked, as well as theatre tickets and plans for my 19th birthday, and I couldn’t be more excited. After a (somewhat) stressful year at uni, adjusting to everything back at home can be tricky, and it is nice to have things to look forward to. As well as this, be spontaneous! If it’s sunny and you’ve got some free time, head to the pub with a friend. If you really fancy junk food, order a takeaway with family! Walk, talk and make as many memories as possible with the people closest to you.

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What have you discovered about yourself over the last year?

Jess. X

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