I’m Emily, a 3rd year student studying criminology and sociology. Thinking back to my first year there are lots of things that I wish I had known before! So that’s what I’m going to be sharing with you today, hopefully you find these tips helpful and they can help your first few weeks go as smoothly as possible.
What to pack
First things first, before you even get to uni you need to pack up your stuff. One of the things I can’t emphasise enough is do not overpack! You won’t need the 8 different hoodies you brought, or the 6 pairs of jeans. I am very guilty of this, especially with shoes, but I promise you mostly end up living in the same thing. Plus let’s face it, majority of us are not going to be looking our most glamorous at our 9am seminar and that’s okay, neither is anyone else.
Pack all your essentials, I’d recommend making sure you have a warm coat for the winter and a waterproof rucksack or bag to use for uni as you’ll need it in the Scottish weather. Most importantly remember that we have all the popular retailers in Stirling so you can pick up anything you might have forgotten or need.
Staying organised and motivated
Independence is great, but it also means there’s no family or teachers to keep you on track with your academic work – it’s all up to you! Of course, you will have your personal tutor who is always there right from the first day to give you advice, but no one will be pestering you to hand in that assignment. One of the best ways to stay organised is at the beginning of semester write down all your due dates for every assignment. This gives you a time frame and you won’t be shocked by any deadlines in the middle of the semester. Once you’ve got your deadlines, carve out some time in your week when you will sit down and do your uni work. Uni can be super busy with lots going on, from your lectures to club and society meetings, having a rough plan for the day with goals in mind can help you stay focused.
When it comes to individual assignments, I’ve found one of the best ways to make it more manageable is to break it down. Work back from the due date and plan out a week or set aside a number of days for research, the actual writing and then time to finalise your assignment. Having these informal deadlines that you set yourself, I’ve found really useful. Don’t be too hard on yourself and if you start early enough you can give yourself some wiggle room.
With no one watching over you and being able to do what you like, it’s easy to fall into bad habits!
One of these can be staying healthy – we all get lazy, and you might not feel like cooking, but getting takeaway all the time is not the answer! Not only is it not great for you, but it really hurts your bank balance. One of the best ways that you can ensure you are eating a good diet is to meal plan. Now this doesn’t have to be anything too fancy, even a jotted down list of meals you’d like to have that week will do. Make sure that you buy all that you will need in one food shop so you aren’t constantly going back to the shop to pick up bits – this is another great way to pick up lots of extra food you might not necessarily need and your bank account probably won’t thank you. Having that food in your fridge and cupboards means you won’t as easily be tempted by takeaways, knowing that all you need for your dinner is waiting for you in the kitchen.
Tips for settling in
My best advice for helping you settle in, particularly in the first few weeks is to keep yourself busy. This is easy to do with all the exciting events put on by the Students’ Union to help you get to know your fellow students and your campus better! Along with lectures this will be more than enough to keep you busy and before you know it you’ll already be a few weeks into the semester and settled into your new routine.
Also make sure that you bring decorations for your room to really make it cosy and feel like home. After all this is where you’ll be staying for the year! In first year, I brought lots of photos of friends and family from home, as well as fairy lights (because who doesn’t love some fairy lights!!) and blankets. This made my room feel homely and like a safe haven.
Another tip for if you are moving into halls is to get to know your flatmates. You’ll be seeing them a lot so it’s good to get to know each other right from day 1! It’s also a great chance to sort out the practicalities of living together, like who puts what where in the fridge and who is taking out the rubbish when. Having what seems like these rather minor things sorted will help you settle into your brand new routine with ease.
Dealing with the transition
The last thing I want to mention is how to deal with the transition. Whilst its full of excitement and it’s the start of a brand-new chapter in your life, it can also be daunting – and that’s okay! Believe me when I say that everyone is in the same boat. So how can you deal with the transition?
Firstly, in terms of academics, don’t worry yourself too much, the lecturers are all lovely and the whole point of the first year is to get everyone up to the same knowledge level – so this isn’t something to stress about. Also, as I mentioned planning out your time and keeping organised, knowing when deadlines are in each of your modules will help make that academic adjustment easier. Listen to what your tutors and lecturers have to say and you will be absolutely fine.
The transition of living at home to moving away, can be a stressful one – and rightly so it’s a big step! But remember, all your home friends and family still care about you and want to hear from you, so make sure that you keep in touch. They are missing you just as much, if not more than you are missing them! You’ll likely form a great support network of friends that feel like family whilst you’re here who will also be there to support you. And remember you can always rely on the Student Services Hub at the University to help you from any matter big to small, from finances to mental health and wellbeing to getting proof of address.
I hope that these tips are helpful and I can’t wait for you to join us on campus and experience all that Stirling has to offer! My one last bit of advice is to savour every single moment, because before you know it, 4 years will be over and you’ll be looking back at all those amazing memories you made.
Arriving to study at Stirling? Find more information about the University of Stirling.