The transition from sixth form to university is not easy. It best compared in my experience to extracting teeth. It’s terrifying, it’s painful and there’s a lot of blood and tears involved. All too quickly you are thrust into this whole new world you weren’t fully prepared for. It’s exciting, sure, but there’s so much I wish I’d known then that I know now to start this new chapter on the right note.
Firstly, and one I feel most passionate about and wish I’d done sooner, Interact with a wider range of students from different countries. It’s unlikely that you’ll meet someone from Estonia, Singapore, Nigeria, Jakarta, Italy and India in the same place again, so interact. Manchester has the largest international student body in the UK. If they’re not in your halls or your course seek them out – attend society events, especially those of countries you are interested in learning the language of or visiting or just have an admiration for. Visit the international society. Whether you’re a home student or international yourself meeting these people will add so much value to your life. New food, new places, new experiences, new cultures and so much more…Through the Spanish society already I have learnt flamenco an incredible style of dance I never would have encountered outside of uni.
Secondly, make the most out of the Careers Service and the Alumni Network. It may seem early, but thinking about your future is important. I feel like I’m always talking about the careers service but it’s because nobody in 1st year really thinks about/talks about it – at least not to me. At the few events I attended I was often one of 2 or 3 first years there.
At the end of the day, first year is (typically) a third of the way through your degree. After a degree comes…? Exactly. The Careers Service offers so much from CV help and guidance, LinkedIn Academy’s, Meet the alumni events, mock assessment centres, interviews and insight days at companies as well as so much more. As well as the alumni network which allows you to communicate with Manchester Alumni and ask for help, guidance and even work experience opportunities, there is so much invaluable careers help available at this university! It’s never too early/late to start planning and one wish of mine is that I had utilised these more in first year because now I’m going to have to cram as much as I can the next two years.
Last but not least, you can actually ask for help! Seems obvious right? What I mean is there’s so much support for us as students. The university is almost built around us and therefore our academic and overall wellbeing matters. You can actually email your lecturer for help if you’re struggling with something. When they offer up their email and office time it’s actually for real…mind blowing. However many students (me) don’t actually do this and just suffer in silence and fall behind in their studies (me). You can also utilise the discussion boards on blackboard. Again shocker. If you need help beyond studies there’s also the counselling services you can refer yourself to.
This may all seem really obvious but I can tell you for a fact I know many people, including myself, who never once did this in 1st year, and now having started asking lecturers for help in 2nd year I can safely say it’s immensely helpful… who’d have thought!
These are just a handful of the things I wish I’d known last year and are still applicable even for those in 2nd and 3rd year. Hopefully these are able to help you have a wonderful remaining 1st semester and even greater 2nd.