Tuesday, 9 September 2014

My University Experince: Part Two

 Hello there! In case you missed last week’s post, I am doing a two part special on my experience of University so far. My last post focused upon the year leading up to University, where you have to go through the UCAS process and my thoughts/tips on that. Today’s post will be about my experience as a fresher at University. So if you are off to your Uni in a couple of weeks, or are just interested in my personal experience, keep reading! Again, this promises to be a long post, so grab yourself a drink/snack before you continue!

 Results Day
 My last post finished with me discussing the wait for your results. I should have said last week that I personally took A levels rather than a baccalaureate or another means of getting in, so I’m not sure if the same process applies to those of you who are using a different form of education to get into University. A level results day is generally in the second week of August on the Thursday. On the morning of results day you are able to log in online to your UCAS account and a message will come up to say whether you have been successful or not, and if you haven’t been accepted by your first place, whether you have been by your second choice. If you haven’t been successful in either then you have a few options; you can either apply to another University through clearing, or you might decide that you want to stay at home for another year and re sit the exams that you perhaps didn’t do so well in. I wouldn’t do anything until you have gone into your school or college to get your results and have had a chat to someone about it there. Personally I was accepted by my first choice, but I think I would of chosen to go through clearing if I hadn’t of got in to either of my choices, as I didn’t want to have to go through the stress of A levels again! You will receive an email later in the day, and a letter in the post confirming your place at the University.   
 Throughout the rest of the summer, you will receive emails/letters when you need to complete any tasks. One of the big things is that you will receive your accommodation contract through! When you were confirming where you wanted your first choice and second choice to be back in the spring, you would have had to of applied for accommodation for your first choice. I didn’t mind which student area I lived in, as long as I had my own bathroom! However when I received my contract through, I had been put in a catered room where I had to share a bathroom and this was the complete opposite of what I had asked for. If this happens to you, I would get into contact with the accommodation team and explain your situation to them. I did this and luckily I was able to be moved into the type of room that I wanted! Once you have signed your contract and sent it off, I would then join as many groups as you can on facebook that are to do with your University/block that you are living in so you can find your flatmates! This made moving in a lot easier, as we had all already talked before we lived together.

Buying things for University
 One of the exciting parts leading up to leaving for University is being able to go out and buy all of the things that you are going to need! I would make a list before you buy anything, and see if there’s anything that you can take from home (I was able to take crockery/cutlery so I could cross that off my list). There are a couple of websites that I looked at when making my list, the student room's one, and another blog that I read, Dizzybrunette3, had a post where she listed everything that she took and you can have a look at that if you want to. You can either buy everything gradually but my parents and I decided to buy it all at once, just so we knew that we had got everything and didn’t need to worry about going back another time to the shop. I purchased most of my supplies from The Range, remember to buy things to decorate your room as well as the bog-standard purchases of pots and pans! I loved decorating my room and visiting my friends’ rooms to see how they had decorated, as we all had the basic same room but everyone’s looked completely different. One of the main things that made my room feel more homely was having photos up everywhere. I ordered a load of photos through Boots photo online, and I was really impressed with the service! I would recommend having some memento, or object that reminds you of home. I had a moneybox that was a beach hut, and I found little things like this that reminded me of home really helped. I also found having a kettle in my room was great. Although you should be given a communal kettle in the kitchen, it’s so much easier having your own for those times when you’re basically too lazy to go into the kitchen!

Freshers week and Moving In
 Finally after the year long process of beginning UCAS, it all pays off as you are off to University! It depends on your contract and University as to when you move in. Personally I didn’t move in until the last week of September, but I know some people at other institutions who didn’t move in until October, or who actually moved in at the start of September. As Sheffield is such a long journey from where my home is, we went up the day before and stayed over in a hotel. I would advise doing this if you have some distance to travel as you’re not stressed about having to get to your accommodation for a certain time with traffic and everything. We were given a choice as to which time slot we wanted to move in, and if you can I would advise moving in earlier in the morning. (Not too early- I think my slot was at 10 am) Although you will probably be one of the first ones there, this then gives you a chance to start unpacking your things before your other flatmates arrive, so that later on you’ll be able to socialise with them properly and not be worrying about having to unpack everything!
 Freshers week isn’t only the big party that it is made out to be! In between going out with your flatmates or new friends, there are a lot of forms that need to be filled in or meetings to go in your first week. I also had to pick the modules that I was going to take for the rest of the year. You will meet so many people during that first week; it’s crazy! It’s great though as no one knows anyone else, so everyone is just out to make friends!
 I personally wasn’t anywhere as homesick as I thought I was going to be! I think it was down to being so busy all the time, with new things happening every day that I just didn’t have time to be homesick! Obviously I missed home a lot, but I was happy to be at University. I was also really lucky with my flatmates, as we all got along so well and I’m sad that we’re now living in different parts of the city! If you do find that you are feeling homesick, there is a lot of support within the University and there is always someone to talk to.
 Before I left home I opted in to have a mentor, and if you can, I would definitely recommend joining the scheme! You are matched up with someone who is doing a similar course and who has similar interests. I found that they were a great help not only before I left for University, but throughout the year if I had any problems. They’re really handy if you have any small questions, for example about transport, or the social life of the city, as they have already been through the process.

The course itself
 So you have survived Fresher’s, got Fresher’s Flu, and are now about to start your actual course! Obviously I can only talk from the prospective of my own course, so yours may differ slightly! I had 3 modules per semester, 1 of them everyone had to take, but the other two we got to pick ourselves. Before you go to sign up for your modules, I would have a look online at the description of not only what you learn about, but of how it is assessed. Personally I prefer coursework to exams, so I went for modules that were assessed wholly on coursework.
 It takes a bit of getting used to the mark scheme as there is no longer such things as lettered grades. Everything is marked out of 100, ranging from a ‘first’ down to a ‘third’ and then fail. To pass my first year I only needed to get 40% overall, and if this is true for you too I would still work as hard as you can, rather than relying on only needing to get 40%. If you learn how to efficiently do the work, come second year when your marks actually count towards your overall grade, the workload won’t be such a shock to the system. I believe in what they say though, there is a bigger leap between GCSE and AS level, than between A level and your first of University.
 Per module I had two lectures, where everyone who is doing that module attends, and one seminar, which you sign up to yourself and is a group of roughly 15 where you go through what was discussed in the lectures/the texts you are reading more thoroughly. When you do your first assessments, what I found hardest was that you weren’t allowed to give in any drafts like you used to back in sixth form. If you are struggling though, you can get help from your seminar tutors, or I found that I was given really good general advice from my personal tutor. Not only with work, but in general, if you have any problems whilst at University, there is always someone to talk to and who can sort out things that need doing.

 I realise now that this is only really about my first couple of months at University, I think if I went on to talk about the rest of my year this post could carry on for a lot longer! If you are starting University in a couple of weeks I hope that this was of some help, but my main advice is just enjoy yourself! You’ll find that your first year just flies by, and soon you’ll be about to start your second year and are questioning where your first year went! If there’s something that happens that is a bit out of your comfort zone, just go with it, you might just find that it leads onto great things.

Here are some photos of my first year of University!

 If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments!

 Good luck with whatever stage of study you are at, and if you are just reading this out of interest, I hope this gave you some insight into the start of my University experience. I can’t see what happens next!

Love Jess xxx

1 comment

  1. You are so good as personalising your own room. I think yours would have been the best xx


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