10 pieces of advice you need to hear before starting at University of Edinburgh

In hindsight, maybe cramming 12 events in one day was a bad idea

Your first year of university can be a really overwhelming time. For most, this is the first time that you are moving away from what you know to a new and unfamiliar place that brings with it a load of expectations that, in most cases, are not met. Although I cannot rewrite history, here’s a list of nine things I wish I could have told my first-year self. 

Don’t burn yourself out by the end of Freshers’ Week

Although Freshers’ Week can be a great time to put yourself out there and socialise like there’s no tomorrow, you may feel like skipping an event or two will lead to massive FOMO. One of the most important lessons I learnt was not to burn yourself out trying to attend every society event and social and space yourself out to maybe one or two a day, instead of cramming your schedule with events from dawn til dusk (and maybe even into the wee hours). 

Don’t buy a Freshers’ wristband

One of the go-to FOMO avoidance tactics is buying every Freshers’ wristband under the sun. However, I can promise you that even if everyone is buying them, you’re better off just buying your admission at the door than locking yourself into a triple bill of (rubbish) club nights. During Freshers’ Week, many people try to pawn their tickets off as they are busy those nights, so worst-case scenario, if you MUST have one, try fresher group chats the day of.

If you don’t want to drink then don’t feel pressured or shamed to

There’s no doubt drinking culture in the UK is crazy, and the pressure to get wasted every night out can be a lot. However, throughout my first year, I didn’t drink, and although I did feel a tad pressured and ashamed, I’m kinda glad I decided not to. Drinking, at its heart, should always be a choice, not a necessity. Some of my best nights out have been when I’m sober (and you save a lot of money).


You’re not the only one who feels imposter syndrome

In my first year, I felt really out of my depth. Within the first week, I thought I didn’t deserve to be at this uni because I didn’t know my Hobbes from my Locke. However, in my moments of doubt, I reminded myself that I got onto this course as my peers did and that I deserved to be here. Just because some of my peers are more vocal on specific topics, this does not mean they know everything there is to know about everything. Overall, I came to uni to learn new things, and that’s precisely what I’m doing. 

What you see on social media isn’t true

Just because your best friend from back home seems to have the ideal university experience of non-stop partying, amazing friends and gals holidays does not mean that that is the case or that they are having a fantastic time. Whilst social media is excellent for connecting with people, remember that what you see is heavily filtered to show the best parts of people’s lives and that they are 100 per cent hiding the ugly parts – the post-party hangovers, the friend group fallouts and the travel plans gone array.  

You don’t need to be besties with your flatmates

Being put in a shared flat with random people who you’ve never met before in your life? It’s weird when you think about it, and it’s no wonder that the vast majority of people have neutral or bad experiences with them. Something I learnt from my first year in shared halls was that it’s more important to be kind and courteous to your flatmates than make them into your best friend or worst enemy. If issues arise, there is always student support or hall RA’s, who can help when things turn sour.

Support is out there

University can get overwhelming and lonely, especially if you are already struggling with your mental or physical health. One of the services I would recommend at the university would have to be the Student Disability Service, which can help people struggling with their physical and mental health. Another thing to remember is that it’s okay to reach out for help from friends and family, and returning home for a bit to recharge is okay and should be nothing to be ashamed of. Outside of the university, there are a lot of services that can offer free support to students and young people, such as your GP, The Chalmers Centre, and various support groups.

You will find your people

You do not have to become best friends with everyone you meet! As cliche as it sounds, I think quality over quantity is the best way to go – try to surround yourself with people that support you and love you for who you are instead of trying to become a chameleon for a variety of people who all hate each other behind their back.

Second year will be better

Going into the first year of university, you will feel a lot of pressure to go out every night, be besties with everyone you meet and have a fantastic time. With so many expectations pinned to the ‘perfect uni experience’, it’s easy to get caught up in it all.

My second year was better than the first year – friend groups start to settle down, you feel less pressure to be on the go constantly, and you can enjoy your course more.