Starting student life as a first-year student can be both exhilarating and unnerving. For many it means moving to a brand-new city with the added pressure of these being ‘the best years of their life’. This change may be a little overwhelming.
Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s not nearly as daunting as it seems and to give you our top tips on how to make the most of your first-year experience.
1. Get involved and put yourself out there (but don’t be afraid to say no)
A classic piece of advice, but often easier said than done. To settle into your new environment, you need to immerse yourself and experience all it has to offer. This often means taking a step outside of your comfort zone. You might discover a hobby you love, meet some cool new people or at worst have a funny story to tell. Not only is it important to try new things but keeping yourself busy at the beginning of your new adventure will keep feelings like homesickness at bay.
However, also don’t be afraid to say no if you’re not feeling it. A lot of people feel if they turn down an opportunity they might not get another chance, but that’s very rarely true. It’s always good to be openminded but you should never feel you have to put yourself in a position you’re uncomfortable with.
TOP TIP: Attend EU’s orientation program, get to know your new city and socialize with your new peers at the Welcome drinks event.
2. Find the right work/life balance and make the most of the resources available
Being a student is all about balance, but for some it’s very easy to get carried away with the social lifestyle and lose sight of their academic goals. However, immersing yourself in your studies will help you realize that you’re learning about things that genuinely interest you.
You will have unlimited learning resources available to you, be it top-class lecturers or access to books and journals and the time to take advantage of them. Engage with your studies, realize what aspect of it really interests you and develop yourself both academically and career wise.
This also works the other way around. Doing a lot of studying is good, but it’s also vital to take a break and relax every now and then.
TOP TIP: Plan your days around your timetable, maximize your time spent in class and dedicate time to studying. Study groups are a great way of combining social and academic activities.
3.Take the opportunity to meet as many people as you can
Meeting people can be difficult, but in the day and age of social media it’s becoming a lot easier. Every school has a Facebook page, which can be an ideal way to e-meet people before you’ve even started classes. Not only that, but that’s the place where events, run both by the school and by students, will be posted so following them is a great way to make sure you never miss an opportunity to meet more people. It’s also worth raiding your contacts list to see if anyone you know, even a friend of a friend, will be attending the same school as you or even lives in the same city.
And don’t forget, you have the ability to approach people too. People often feel embarrassed or nervous about doing so, but keep in mind that almost everyone around you is in the same position as you and will welcome the chance to interact. Five minutes after starting the conversation you’ll be wondering what you felt so nervous about in the first place.
TOP TIP: Join one of EU’s various Facebook groups. Joining a sports team is also a great way of making new friends.
4. Explore the city and find your new local
Maybe you’re a coffee lover or you have an interest in vintage clothes. Get out, explore the city, and make it your mission to find the niche things it has to offer that interest you. Check out that random bar on your corner that’s always full of locals. Pop into that shop with the intriguing display window.
The more you explore and get to know your new city, the more you’ll start to feel like it’s your home. There’s nothing that makes you feel like more of a local than showing someone who has come to visit all the cool new places you’ve discovered. Once you come across somewhere you’ve fallen in love with, make it your local. Having a routine within your day can help acclimatize you to your new home.
If you’re studying somewhere where the language is different to your native tongue, it’s also worth attempting to learn the language basics. You might soon realize this will open a lot of new and interesting doors for you and people to meet from other programs or walks of life.
TOP TIP: EU’s Language School is the ideal place to learn a new language. Language exchanges are also a fun way to learn new languages.
5. Remember to budget and try free things
Enjoying university doesn’t have to mean spending all your money. Remember you could be there for up to four years so try and budget accordingly. It may seem small, but little things like having your morning coffee at home instead of from a café on the way to school, can quickly add up. Sitting down with your finances once a month can also be a great way to make sure you’re not overspending.
Not spending money also doesn’t mean not having fun. Cooking at home is a great way to save money and to learn a valuable skill at the same time – you may even find you have a natural talent for it. You can even turn it into a social event by inviting all your friends’ round for a dinner party, where everyone brings one dish, or taking it in turns to host dinner parties. It’s also always a great idea to look out for free events. Many cities have museum open days where entrance is free or free open-air celebrations in the street.
TOP TIP: Sign up to newsletters so you can keep track of all the free events happening in the city.
6. Enjoy every second
You are embarking on a new and thrilling experience, laying the foundation for your future. It is the ideal time to learn and explore. Take the challenges as learning experiences, work hard, grow yourself and have fun. There’s no better time than now, your success story starts here!