Beginning your journey at university can be an exciting but also a daunting experience, well, at least it was for me. When people think about the typical ‘Student Life’ they think about moving away from home, spending your entire student loan within the first week of Freshers, and living on Pot Noodles for eight months out of the year. Yes, I’ll agree that this does generally tend to be the case, but for many it can be completely different, which is absolutely fine!
I had originally planned to move to Belfast for my first year at university, but as the months leading up to beginning Semester 1 approached, I realised that this was a great deal of pressure for me personally. The idea of moving away from home, meeting new people, and completely stepping out of my comfort zone seemed terrifying. So, to make my transition from secondary school to university a little easier, I decided to stay at home and travel for my first year. This decision had both positives and negatives.
When you decide to travel to university it can be difficult to have the social life of a student if you don’t live in Belfast. You have to arrange lifts, or attempt to park your car somewhere down University Avenue which believe me is not easy if you’re staying at a friends house. Trying to balance having a social life, maintaining decent grades, working 21 hours a week and travelling to university was becoming difficult. I found myself with less and less energy as the weeks went by. I realised that I needed to make university life work for me and not make myself feel pressured into doing it a certain way.
As a way of dealing with the pressures of student life, I turned to exercise. I joined my local gym, I was automatically impressed when I got my 20% student discount when joining which made it a little easier and prompted me to go. I was never a very athletic person, I always detested P.E. in school, so this was going to be interesting. I was a little lost at the beginning, but with the help of one of the gym’s instructors I found my way. After a few months of going to the gym I found a passion for running, a lot of people hear that and think to themselves ‘How could you enjoy running?’. What I loved the most about exercise was not only did it improve my physical health, but it made me feel a great deal better about myself mentally. I’ve been a member of my local gym now for almost two years and it has been one of my biggest helps when it comes to dealing with the pressures of university.
When second year began I had found my feet and had made some great friends. I still chose to travel to university as this decision was best for me personally. I began to really enjoy university, I had finally got into a routine with managing university, exercise, working, and also having some time to just relax by myself and with friends, which we all need.
Now that final year is well under way, it feels slightly different from my previous two years at university, which is to be expected I suppose. You realise that this is it, this year will determine the result of your whole Degree. The thought of that alone is pretty scary for anyone. However, with the right frame of mind you can do anything.
So, if you are like me and decide that you want to travel to university here are some of my top tips for along the way:
- Buy a parking permit. Having to spend £60 in your first week of university is not appealing, but you will save yourself a lot of money in the long run if you do this.
2. Have a travel buddy if you can. In first and second year I car shared with friends and my Boyfriend. This made life a little easier and really helps with travelling expenses.
- Have a good travel playlist. If you’re travelling a long distance to get to university, it’s always good to have plenty of upbeat tunes to make the journey more appealing.
4. Meet up with friends. If you have friends staying in Belfast for their time at university, maybe go to lunch with them after your lectures. Even something as simple as going for coffee can be nice. This is a great way to keep in touch and it will give you something to look forward to!
- Enjoy your student experience. University is about exploring new paths and doing what you enjoy. If you feel that you’re not enjoying it, talk to a friend or family member and get their advice. Work out what it is that’s making you unhappy and work on it.
Hopefully you will find these tips as helpful as I did!
Anna Haughian is a final year Communication Management and Public Relations Student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Twitter @anna_haughian and on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anna-haughian-667834131/