The new semester has begun and for many students it marks the beginning of a new phase in their lives. Whether they are straight out of high-school, back from their year abroad or their vocational training, they are now moving on to university, a place where one will spend the next few years studying for a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Has university life started for you this year? Then you can proudly call yourself a “fresher”.
There are a few things you should know in advance. Life at university gives you a lot of new freedom and – except for the constant studying for exams – does not have much in common with your high-school days. With this freedom comes the responsibility of taking care of your own study habits. You have to complete assignments by deadlines and turn up to at your seminars. The motivation to deepen and expand what you have learned in class is now up to you. You are now required to organise yourself which may seem overwhelming in the beginning, but will quickly become routine.
Starting university is unbelievably exciting but you will encounter many new tasks that will sometimes be a bit stressful. To make the beginning of your first semester at university easier, we have a few helpful tips for you:
Take a deep breath – all beginnings are difficult
The first semester is often associated with worries and expectations. You don’t want to do anything wrong and may feel a little overwhelmed in the beginning which is completely normal. You might not be able to tell just by looking at your fellow students, but we were all nervous when we started our studies and didn’t know what to expect. Similarly to when you take the step from middle school to high school, it can be overwhelming, but you’ll get used to it. After a few weeks you will know where you need to be at what time and will have a better understanding of your way around campus. Give yourself a little time for this big change and if you need help, you can get help from your professors or fellow students.
Get to know fellow students and make important contacts
Especially at the beginning, it is nice to have people you can talk to. Your fellow students are in the “same boat“ as you and most of them will be studying for the first time. They will therefore understand the problems and worries that you are feeling and can be more than just good contacts, often they can become friends who last a lifetime. In the beginning, fellow students can often be found on Facebook, in a WhatsApp group or during orientation week. Be open-minded and try to start a conversation on your own.
It helps to build a good network of people. This includes not only your fellow students, but also students who are further through their studies and might be able to offer you advice. They were also first-year students once and will know the answers to your questions or can at least point you in the right direction.
Be on time
In order to be successful at university, you need to develop good time management skills. If you show up too late for a lecture, you are making life unnecessarily difficult for yourself and other students. Not only will you be missing out on important learning material, but you are also disrupting an ongoing class.
Of course, it happens to everyone once, that your train is late or you get stuck in a traffic jam. Just make sure that something like this doesn’t happen if possible. Arriving on time is not only incredibly important for your university time, but also for your whole life.
Take your time for yourself
A new town. New university. New friends. That can be quite a lot all at once. Even though university has just started, it is important to remember that you are experiencing a lot of new things. Before it all gets out of hand, it’s important to take a break. It’s best to listen to your gut feeling. It’s great if you go to every event during your Fresher’s Week and it will help you to meet new people. However, it is also okay to say “no” once in a while. You don’t have to take on every extracurricular activity!
It’s important to find a balance. It’s natural that you want to experience as much as possible during your university years, but don’t forget to take care of yourself. Take time for your hobbies, a good book or your favourite tv-show. Drink plenty of water and find a good balance. A long walk or some yoga is the best way to do exactly that. All of these are incredibly helpful for recharging your batteries.
Once you have your new timetable, it’s a good idea to write it directly into your calendar. University life requires good organisation and time management. (For some helpful ideas on organisation, check out our blog article: “Tips and tricks on how to stay motivated and organised”.)
If you always write down deadlines in your calendar, you can prevent any surprises and keep on top of your work. The mountain of tasks will get smaller and you will be able to keep better track of them.
Don’t forget to save your homework and make a copy of particularly important tasks. It would be very annoying if you accidentally deleted a 12-page paper a few days before your deadline.
Don’t forget to have fun.
All beginnings are difficult and there will certainly be days when you want to stick your head in the sand. However, university can be one of the best experiences of your life if you get involved. Try to enjoy every day and recognise the precious and beautiful moments even in hectic times. You will be presented with great opportunities, you will make friends for life and learn a lot about your studies and yourself. Give yourself this chance, without putting yourself under too much pressure or constantly rushing from A to B. After all, your time at university should be one thing above all else: a fun time!