I’ve been thinking about writing something like this for a while now, a sort of reflective post about my experiences but also maybe a guide of things to bring with you and be aware of before beginning your first year at uni!
So, I’ll start at the beginning…I took Chemistry, Biology and Psychology for A2 and wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do probably like most 17/18 year olds, my ideas completely varied and went from wanting to do neuroscience to doing philosophy and psychology so when I applied for courses I ended up applying to 5 different courses. I didn’t do well at AS so planned on re-sitting my AS levels whilst also doing my A2 exams. I ended up getting A’s in all my mock exams so school gave me the go ahead to resit the AS levels as well. The sleepless night before results day came around really quickly as did waking up to find I had done A LOT worse than I had been predicted and had missed going to both Manchester and Newcastle uni. Obviously there was a lot of stress and I quickly had to ring up the unis to ask if they would still accept me which they wouldn’t. So I ended up in clearing trying to find both courses that I liked the sound of in places that I liked the sound of which was definitely a difficult task. I was offered places from a few unis such as Hull, Manchester for biology which I hadn’t enjoyed at A level and Liverpool John Moores. In the end, I chose Liverpool for forensic science having never been there before but I definitely don’t regret this decision!
In the month before uni my accommodation (Liberty Atlantic Point which is basically loads of blocks of 6 flats, 2 per floor) sent out what flat numbers we had been allocated and suggested going on Facebook to the accommodation page and trying to find out who we would be sharing a flat with! I managed to be added to a group chat with 3 of my flatmates who were all boys and somehow they knew there was also going to be another boy from various Facebook chats…so it became quickly apparent that 4/6 people in my flat were boys and the worry then became not that I would have weird flatmates but instead, that I would be the ONLY girl. After getting to know them a bit and chatting about things like who would bring a kettle or tea towels etc I definitely felt a lot less nervous about arriving in Liverpool. I would really suggest trying to talk to the to people you’ll be living with before you move in as you’ll feel a lot less anxious.
When I arrived, I was told there would be another girl in my flat which was the best news that day and I then began moving all my things into my room along with my mum, dad and one of my sisters. I was actually really glad my sister came as well because it just made things a lot easier as she came into the kitchen with me to meet one of my flatmates and it was just nice having her around helping me sort my room out. After my family left, my flat all decided that we’d get pizza and all have it together which I’m not gonna lie, was a bit awkward because when you put 6 people who don’t know each other around a table whilst eating… it’s not gonna be the most comfortable of atmospheres! I’m glad we did that on the first night though as it pushed us all together and made us talk to each other rather than sitting in our own rooms. Then freshers started and I think my flat managed to go out like 13/14 nights in a row which was really heavy going, especially when you’re a person whose skin turns horrible and gets a bloaty looking face when they’ve been on a few too many nights out, so lets just say by the end of freshers I did not feel, or look good. There were introductory lectures, safe sex talks and referencing lectures which being honest, you really don’t have to go to as my flat soon realised when we were one of the only flats in the accommodation to turn up to a very long winded safe sex talk.
As for starting your course for the first time, I ended up accidentally going to the introductory talk for engineering rather than forensic science and meeting a girl on my course who had done the same thing who I’m still friends with at the end of the year! So I think just trust in that everything will turn out okay despite a few things going wrong along the way! You’ll meet people who walk the same way as you to the university or who are at the same accommodation as you and everything will feel a lot more normal after a few weeks.
- If you’re a girl reading this then I would have a few outfits planned that you know you like and feel comfortable in for going out in freshers week, because if your week is anything like mine was with flatmates banging on your door to join pres because you’re taking too long to get ready or just not being used to getting ready for a night out without all your friends seeing what you’re wearing etc then it just makes things a lot easier! (Don’t bother bringing heels!! I brought mine and never wore them, you’ll probably end up with a pair of ‘going out shoes’ which for me were my Adidas which are now looking pretty rough to say the least)
- DO NOT GET INVOLVED WITH ANY OF YOUR FLATMATES- I know people say it and you’re like ‘no of course I won’t I’m not that stupid’, its actually so easy to happen especially when you’ve had a few drinks and you’re spending so much time with that person. Relationships are hard enough even without the stress of having to live with that person for the rest of the year or constantly have a relationship judged by others that you’re also living with. Although at the time you may think it’ll be okay, the amount of my friends who have told me the same story of how it started as a drunken mistake and then carried on, or as a ‘just friends’ thing. One of you will develop feelings or both but then logistics of living together so soon are too difficult and then it just makes everything awkward and hard to get over…trust me on this one, I’ve not heard anything good about endings to these situations.
- STAY ON TOP OF YOUR COURSE- try and make a few notes when you get home after lectures even if its just briefly what was explained because when exams come around you’ll really thank yourself for putting in the extra time.
- MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR SPARE TIME! you will have so much spare time when you begin uni unless you’re doing a demanding course such as medicine, don’t waste it just lying in bed watching Netflix which I did for the first few weeks of uni just trying to recover and rest after nights of missed sleep. Get out and explore the new place you’re living in, find cool bars, parks and cafés. Ask your friends out to places with you and get to know them a bit better. Or get a job, so many of my friends have made a lot of friends through getting a job and you’re also earning money which is beneficial to going out and doing more(or buying clothes and makeup if you’re anything like me- hard on just a student loan!).
- JOIN A SOCIETY/CLUB- I joined lacrosse and have made so many friends through it because there’s trips and socials and a lot of ways to meet new people. It’s also really good to get out and do something active to be honest.
- PLAN YOUR MENUS- one thing I really struggled with at the start of the year was cooking for myself, so my meals before Christmas mainly consisted of either pasta, pizza or beans on toast. I also ended up going to Tesco every other day getting various bits rather than doing one big shop of what I needed for the week. I started doing this after Christmas after finding a few recipes that were fairly easy to make (I’m going to write about a few of them on here) and it was a lot cheaper and better health wise for me as well. I really changed my mindset after Christmas with regard to my health as I think I realised how much it had deteriorated from eating rubbish and drinking a lot and in how I felt. I just thought to myself that I was an adult now and needed to start taking my life into my own hands!!
- DON’T feel like you have to drink excessively to feel more confident. In my experience some nights are best when you fully remember them and you aren’t left the next day trying to piece together what you said to someone or how you acted! I think I’ve sort of learned that if you pretend to be confident when you speak to someone for the first time then it just makes you feel better and you actually end up being more confident.
- Bring cutlery and plates etc with a distinct pattern on them or coloured handles for cutlery because it saves you so much time when trying to find whose is whose after washing up. I got some cutlery with black handles from Asda and was really thankful as everyone else in my flat had plain silver cutlery and couldn’t tell which was theirs.
- BUY some barocca and proplus- literally the one thing that has made me feel better after many a hungover morning, or keep you going if you’ve got a deadline and you’ve left it a bit last minute (defo wasn’t in the library all night for my first uni assignment….)
- Finally, I remember my mum telling me this when we were on the way to Liverpool and I wanted to turn around and go back home! Just remember that everyone is in the same boat as you, everyone will be as nervous and as anxious to make friends but it will all be okay.
I hope some of this helps anyone who’s in any position to what I was, I’ve had one of the best years of my life in Liverpool and love the place and all of the people I’ve met so far so I can only hope you have a similar experience!