As some of you may know, I recently completed my degree at Sheffield Hallam University in Film & Screenwriting. It’s been one hell of a ride, and I have plenty of advice and tips to share with you- a combination of learning from my mistakes and things I found helpful.
- Get an NUS card. NUS cards are the holy grail for students, and they offer a huge range of discounts for students, including to Amazon, Co-op, and a ton of clothes shops. The little 5%, 10%, 20% and more can really help save your buns and save you pennies on the way.
- Learn your city. I honestly can’t stress this one enough! When I first moved to Sheffield, I’d only been a handful of times, and didn’t know where anything was. Thankfully, my housemate Robin gave me a tour of the city, and after a few false starts (read: I got lost) and now I’m pretty comfortable getting around. However, if you’re moving to a city you’ve never been to or don’t have friends there, get out and explore for yourself! Google some places of interest, put some comfy shoes on and and get your feet on the street. Don’t just rely on Google Maps though; you might miss out on a darling café for ages because it’s not listed.
- If you want to meet people, sign up for societies! If there’s one thing all universities have, it’s societies. My uni has societies for tea drinking, circus skills and Capoeira! I can just about guarantee that whatever your interest, you’ll find a society that caters to you. If there isn’t? Take initiative and set one up yourself! Not only is it a great thing to put on your CV & on job application forms, you’ll meet loads of like-minded people.
- Make the most of your university. My uni has several gyms, sports classes and the like at a discounted price for students. They also offer language courses you can take alongside your classes and you can start anywhere from beginner to advanced. There’s also careers assistance (which I cannot talk up and stress the importance of more) and student services for pretty much anything else you’ll need. Universities have tons and tons of resources available to their students and its definitely in your best interest to use it.
- Try not to get too bogged down by your work. I wish, I wish someone had told me this when I started. If you spread your work and assignments out and keep in constant contact with your tutors, you’ll find your time at uni will be MUCH easier. You DO NOT want to be like me, staying at the library from 5-10 every evening for a week because O put everything off and got lazy. The deadlines and work will be hard, but it is manageable.
- Be careful with your money. Around September/October (i.e. payday), all the shops in university cities go absolutely bonkers and offer a bevvy of discounts and lock-in events to students, and they always look mega appealing. However, the thing is the money you have has to last you. Take it from me, who lived off noodles, rice and cereal for 3 weeks, it’s incredibly easy to spend your money on what look like good deals (“10% off this £80 coat? How could I not?!”) and then later find yourself having nothing and either missing out on fun times or just eating rubbish until its payday again. Work out a budget, and if you can, pay your rent in large chunks so you know its taken care of and you don’t have to send creeping emails to your landlord/estate agent.
- You will be on your own, and that’s okay.Confession: the first week I moved away, I cried every single night due to homesickness. I was surrounded by my friends who I’d known since secondary school, but I just felt so, so alone. But, that’s okay. It does happen. After a week away and several phone calls to my family, I felt better. Moving to uni is such a big step in life, and it’s more than okay to falter a little bit. You have to remember that your family is always on the other end of a phone line, a Skype call, a letter… However, if you’re feeling homesickness really badly, get in contact with student services and request to speak to someone about it. They will help, I promise.
- If your classes request you to do additional viewing/reading, do it. As I mentioned in my introduction, I did a film degree and you better believe there was a ton of additional reading and viewing. Boy, was there. Most of the time, I just didn’t do it. Call it laziness or stupidity, but I skipped out on further study and missed out on an important part of the university experience; personal learning and personal-led development. Also, if you’re sat in a class of 20 people, none of which who have read or watched anything, it’s gonna get your lecturer mad AND cause several very awkward silences. A few hours a week to watch or read extra things isn’t too long out of your gaming/sleeping/drinking time after all.
- If you’re not happy on your course, you can drop out or move. A friend of mine went all through college, got her a-levels, got to uni and within a few months, realised she didn’t like it. So, she dropped out, picked up a job in her hometown and whenever I see her now she is the happiest, smiliest person! You don’t always have to drop out, but you can switch your course or even your university. It’ll be one heck of a huge paper trail and whatnot, but that is an option available to you.
- Importantly; have fun! University is not just a time for studies and embracing the next step of adulthood via education, but it’s a time to have fun. It’s a time to meet new friends, partners and make long-lasting memories and have an incredible experience. No two people’s uni experiences are the same, but I can guarantee they’ll have had an amazing time regardless.
Did you enjoy your time at university if you went? What other advice would you offer?