Looking back, first year seems like a lifetime ago. I’m going into my fourth and final year at Exeter, and I honestly cannot express how sad I am that I have to leave university. When they say your university years are the best years of your life, they mean it, so make sure you take advantage of as much as possible. Being in a new city and meeting new people can be daunting, so here is some advice from someone that’s been there.
Be confident. I myself can be rather shy when meeting people for the first time, I sort of stand there and say random things which makes me look slightly crazy. But during first year, the best way to get to know people is to have the confidence to just go up to anyone and say hello. University is the perfect time to boost your confidence and step outside your comfort zone, so make the effort with everyone. For the first two days of freshers’, I was alone in my flat and was too scared to venture out. It wasn’t until a guy knocked on my door and forced me to the pub that I made friends. Three years and two houses later we are still good mates, so you never know who will become your closest friends.
Buy a doorstop. When I found out I was going to university I was given a doorstop as a good luck present from a friend. I remember at the time thinking it was a very peculiar present, but now looking back I see that it wasn’t just a door stop, it was an invitation for flatmates and friends to come in and say hello. You can’t make friends hiding in your room with the door closed, so try and get out as much as you can, or at least keep your door open.
Don’t get over excited at the Freshers’ fair and blow all your money. In first year I spent over £300 joining societies. I think I only actively took part in 2 of them, and the rest was wasted money. Just think before you sign up, are you really going to go surfing in the freezing winter? Or go to fitness classes 4 times a week? Join societies you know you will love and ones that you will benefit from!
Remember that second year counts towards your degree. So many students fall into the second year trap. They get excited about living in a nice house with a comfy lounge, their closest friends and the club around the corner, that they forget second year is worth a third of their final degree. Make sure you find the balance, because you never know, second year could cost you the first you worked so hard for in final year.
Landlords will be landlords. Last year everyone was in a mad rush to find a house. What you can do to find a good house at a reasonable price is wander around the streets looking for private landlords’ notices put up in the windows of their houses. This means you can contact them directly to arrange a viewing. You may save yourselves the £150 estate agent fee and private houses can be considerably cheaper than those found at some estate agents. Whether using a private landlord or an estate agent, just make sure you stay on top of things.
Keep an eye out for alternative events. There are so many events and nights out that pass by which you will not have even known were on. In first year, I was so obsessed with Cheesy Tuesdays at Unit 1 that I never looked at other events happening in Exeter. Only in second and third year did I discover events such as Don’t Walk Boogie – now my favourite night out – Goodlife, or Magic Hatstand. There are so many events which cater to all different music genres that you will not want to miss out on.
– Megan Stealey