Whether you’re moving into the middle bit, or you’re about to start your third and final year of university, as cliché as it sounds, you can still remember that first day of October as if it was yesterday. But let’s forget the fact that now your marks actually count, or your impending dissertation deadlines, or the creeping panic that the future and career prospects entail and reminisce. First year was great, the sense of freedom you oh so craved was finally in your grasp – but as with everything, there are many things you’ve learned since. Maybe there’s a few things that you could have done differently…
1 // Try something out at least once before saying no and get involved.
Ah Freshers. It’s not just a week at the University of Leicester either, it’s two. And yes it will be hectic and you will be handed so many brochures and pamphlets by both societies and companies alike you may drown in them. Every corner you turn to is a path of persuasion, because hey everyone wants you in their society and we totally want you to join Galaxy Magazine too!
But if you survive the sudden onslaught of information and new possibilities, you could discover something new. There’s no harm trying right? Maybe you’ll even enjoy it and find a new passion you’ve never thought of. Even if you do end up not enjoying it – it’s a new experience, and at least now you’ve tried and now you know.
Apart from the endless number of societies the Student Union has to offer, with new ones popping up, there are more events to get involved in. Your university email is automatically signed up to the university’s newsletter where upcoming opportunities and events such as free lectures that you may be interested in as well as potential volunteering places may pop up. If you venture out into the Students Union, you’ll see posters on the boards advertising events or maybe dig up that brochure you’ve shoved into the abyss of your backpack. It might just be the next gig you’ll end up spontaneously attending.
2 // Don’t worry about what other people say or think. Just be yourself.
As cheesy as it sounds, be yourself. Don’t be low-key about your interest. It’s university. Chances are you’re not the only one. There are many societies you could join that could narrow down that perfect partner(s) in crime. If you’re into anime and manga for example, there’s LANMA. Or if you can play instruments or like to write or want to act or like live action roleplay or an avid feminist… there are societies for those too. And if there’s no society for it yet? Start one. The Union Activities officers are more than happy to guide you into becoming an official society. Maybe you just happened to convert your flat into liking Korean music and they joke around and suggest to start a society… that’s how the K-Pop and Culture Society (K-Soc) began – and now I’m its President.
If you’re not into the drinking and clubbing scene, that’s okay too. As much as the stereotype of university students involve alcohol, the Union makes sure there are events that doesn’t involve this and so you don’t have to feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to. You’re definitely not alone.
3 // This is the time to make mistakes.
Don’t forget that, yes, despite the freedom university life brings, you are still here and paying for a degree. Yes, first year may not count towards your degree (unless, of course, in specified courses) but it is your trial and error phase. Make mistakes now and learn so you don’t repeat them later, when it does count. Actually try writing that essay, maybe you’ll find tutor comments on paragraphs and grammar mistakes that you can keep in mind when writing in your second and third year. Maybe writing that report will spark inspiration for your future dissertation topic or even a side project.
Make mistakes now, while it’s okay to do so.
Treat first year like a trial and error phase. Make mistakes now and learn. Maybe try actually writing that essay, because maybe you’ll find out manual referencing takes literally forever and then you won’t hand in your first proper assignment late as a result… That was a friend of a friend of course. The point is, make mistakes now, while it’s okay to do so. Try to commit yourself to any project you pick up, because although your grades don’t count for your degree, for things like internship applications they’re vital.
4 // If you have a dream work hard and don’t let anyone say or do anything to get in your way.
Be yourself. Make mistakes. Don’t let anyone else’s opinions get in your way. If you prefer to stay in and read or paint or listen to music, rather than go out clubbing, do that. If you’re here with a goal, don’t let anyone or anything stop you. If you’re here while trying to figure everything out, don’t worry – we’ll get there.
Lerah Mae Barcenilla