How to 1st Year at Hertfordshire Uni!*

Congratulations on getting into the University of Hertfordshire! ☺︎

Now that I'm a 3rd year student, I've pretty much figured out how to 'student' at Herts. When I was a 1st year, I had no idea what I was doing and I found it 10x harder than anybody else as I went to Hertfordshire not knowing anyone. This meant that I had to gain a whole new set of friends all over again, how fun. It was a big decision to start all over again. I chose to do this as I didn't want to go to Uni with the same people I knew from back home and end up staying in the same friendship groups.

Moving out from home isn't easy, in fact it's a bit scary if I'm being honest. I've already touched on that topic here if you fancy reading it. Fortunately for you all, this post is all about being a 1st Year student and how to... well let's say 'survive' at Uni. I've tried to categorise this post as much as possible so I don't drown you with too much information all at once!

First Day Jitters/Freshers Week.

So you're all move out, now what? The first thing I did was head straight to the kitchen and claimed my cupboard space. Sounds a bit silly, but trust me you'll thank me in the long run when you have your own cupboard and fridge/freezer drawers instead of just shoving your food somewhere and hoping that no one steals it (it does happen, keep track of your food guys). Since your family has dropped you off and you're all on your own, the best thing is to introduce yourself to your flatmates considering that these will be people that you'll be associated with for the next 9-ish months - so start making friends already! As it's freshers week, you're likely to end up going out with your flatmates as this is a great way to get to know each other without feeling awkward. Alcohol helps ease the nerves that you may have, just a heads up ;)

Socialise, Socialise, Socialise!

As you're heading out for your first night in the Forum, be prepared to socialise with others outside your flat. I cannot tell you the amount of conversations that I have had with strangers as a fresher at the shuttle bus stop, in the queue to the Forum and even in the girl's toilets! Everyone is excited and or intoxicated so it's very easy to be having conversations left, right and centre. People talk to anyone on nights out which makes it super easy to meet people. It may sound a bit scary but you never know, strangers can easily turn into friends and friends can turn into best friends. See that circle of life? I did this at Uni and I don't regret it at all considering I'm known as 'Miss social' to my friends and tbh I think that is a great achievement to gain at Uni.

Be WISE with your Money.
(Student Loan isn't always your friend)

Please be moderate with how much you spend when living away! Due to the nature of my course being 100% coursework, it aint cheap paying for prints and other photography items, but then again I don't have to do any exams so I'm happy doing so regardless of having some cash loss throughout the year. I'm not saying that everyone's courses are going to be costly like mine, but unfortunately some are. Before moving away, I had a secure job back at home which allowed me to save up a lot of money for emergency situations. I'm really tight with my savings account to the point that I pretend that it doesn't exist. I thought that Student Loans would be my way out of having a job at Uni which looking back at it now, I can't believe how stupid that sounds. When your rent goes out, you go food shopping and whatever else you need purchase at Uni, the pennies go down real quick and this was not good for me.

So what did I do? I got a job. Hertfordshire offers multiple student jobs within the Student Union and the actual Uni itself. I picked up work as a Student Ambassador and to this date, it still is one of my main sources of income. In fact, I'm working Fresher's Week oh what joys. With this job, it means that I don't have to rely on my student loan as my main source of income. I recommend getting a student job just because you can live comfortably whilst not having to work contracted hours as most student jobs coordinate with your timetable. Don't forget to check StudyNet for future jobs offers!

Join a Society or Sports Club to stay Active!

Keeping active is super important when living away from home. In my first year I joined the gym (paid a year membership) and also signed up to the Athletic Union by joining the Hertfordshire Sirens Cheerleading Team. I didn't realise how beneficial keeping active was until I got to Uni. Due to only having 3 lectures a week, I had two days off to do absolutely nothing which is fab cause even in my 3rd year I'm only in 3 days a week YAY. Having a day off in Uni is so handy because it means you can catch up on sleep, finish up some work or go and visit friends. Instead of sleeping in, and believe me I wanted to, I went to the gym as it's quite empty during the day due to everyone being in lectures. Alongside this, I've always wanted to try Cheerleading and fortunate for me Hertfordshire had a competition team so I already knew that this would be the perfect sport for me!
(If you're interested in Cheerleading come to our taster sessions & tryouts, I'll be there!)

Although, if you're not looking to pay a hefty price for the gym and sports aren't really your thing, have a look out for Active Students. I joined active students last year and guess what - it's 100% free, no payments whatsoever. They offer a range of activities from Bootcamps, Yoga, Gymnastics and my personal favourite Roller Skating. The activities that they put on are located on both campuses and their timetable for the new term should be available soon.

Remember that your Lectures Exist!

As much fun as Cheeky Wednesdays sounds, you applied to Uni to study and to get a degree, not to party all the time - if only. Lectures do exist and as silly as it sounds me saying this, people tend to forget about them and end up missing important parts of their course. It's so easy to sleep in and miss a lecture, I won't lie it's happened to me quite a few times but then again this now means that I have to catch up somehow and that's not fun at all. You're paying 9k a year to study, so make the most of it! Most of my lectures are practical's so I have a lot of out of hours work to do. So technically speaking if I've actually missed a proper lecture than I've just given myself unnecessary stress which is dumb. Go to your lectures kids, you'll thank me in 3rd year.

Think about Careers/Work Experience/Study Aboard/Placements early.

This is very important. I know a lot of us don't think about full-time work or graduate schemes when becoming a first year because I didn't. It's not until I finished second year that I realised that this was a big mistake. Uni flies by TOO quick and now I'm in the mist of preparing for adult life by looking for graduate jobs. Make use of the services that the Uni provide and any career emails that you receive, please read them. I used to ignore them until I was halfway through my 2nd year and realised that I wanted to see if there was any summer work available that connected with my chosen degree.

Enjoy Yourself.

Have fun! University is all about experience (and studying) but mainly experiences and making new memories. Go out, live life and have no regrets! You don't want to be that student who took Uni too seriously and has no memories to take from it. There's so much to do and 1st year is the perfect time to do trial and error. Lil' tip; don't listen to the people who say "First year doesn't count..." because it adds towards the rest of your 2+ years, trust me it does. If you slip up in 1st year, by 3rd year you'll be regretting choosing that night out instead of your studies. Apart from that, enjoy yourself and make sure that you leave your mark because you're going to want to look back at Uni and say that it wasn't a massive regret due to it being the best years of your life!

I hope this helps :)
I tried my hardest to not drown you in endless amount of words but my tips had to be shared! The main aim is to have fun and to explore many opportunities that are presented to you at Uni!

*Hertfordshire Extras*
1. THERE'S ALWAYS SO MANY FREEBIES. Collect them all!
2. £1 Domino's Pizza exists and they're open till 4am!
3. Explore both campuses, it's worth it trust me.
4. The Forum isn't the only place to go out! Check out Oceana, Club Batchwood or Hydeout.
5. The Galleria isn't the only shopping centre you should go to, try St Albans or even Watford if you can get there.
6. As funny as Cheeky Wednesday's sounds, it's actually decent! (make sure to visit the burger van after, you'll thank me later).
7. When artists come to the Forum prepare to bump into everyone you know.
8. The Elehouse & Club DeHav are really good places to eat and drink at with reasonable prices.
9. Varsity is a BIG THING remember this. Bedfordshire are such sore losers hehe #5YearsInARow & now going for six.
10. People drink during the day, it's quite normal (especially at Wetherspoons, it's a must).

"Everyday counts, especially the first."


*In collaboration with the University of Hertfordshire Student Union.
100% written by myself, all thoughts and opinions are my own :)
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