How I survived my first term at Lancaster
An insight into how to survive your first term at Lancs Uni
So, I've just finished my first term as an undergraduate at Lancaster University, and the past three months have been some of the most interesting of my life so far. But the first few months have also taught be several life hacks for surviving university which I hope will be helpful for fellow Lancs students.
You are likely to "find yourself" at uni
Cliché? I know, but true even so.
Being thrown into Bowland Main on my first day with a rag-tag bunch of students from all over the North (big-up Northerners, am I right?) helped me find my "tribe" if you will. You may be shy, loud, outrageous, studious, interested in languages or really into your love of books (like me!), but you find out who you like – and who you don’t – which allows you to learn things about yourself and essentially find your people. Sixth form, college and school doesn't really give you much of an option who to spend your time with in terms of classes – uni does.
Don’t be intimidated!
I don’t know if this applies to anyone else, but one thing I really struggled with in my first few weeks was competing with the amount of smart people around me – living in a flat with four politics students will do that to you!
But hey, you're here for a reason right? Just because you can't talk about the intricacies on the American political system or how computer programming works or why the tree in the library is called Norman (a mystery that remains unsolved), doesn't mean you're not smart, you've got your own field of knowledge.
You might not meet your "best friend" in Freshers' Week
Or you might if you are very lucky.
But you will not get on with everyone you meet. In Freshers' Week everyone is lovely because they’re finding who they gel with; now I’m not saying that people immediately transform to horrible, insult-spewing monsters the moment in hits 00:01 on the Monday after Freshers' (that may happen after a couple of drinks at Sugar!), but I found that people’s tend to try less once they know they don’t have to make an effort.
For me I was lucky that I had a few good friends living near me who I had known before university and I’ve made a few good friends from within my flat and otherwise during the past three months. But no-one I met in Freshers, whether it be in club meetings for the Real Ale Society or randomly meeting in McDonald's after a night in Sugar, I am still friends with now (shocker that last one, I know.)
Just keep your options open!
Work, work, work
This is probably the most important of all the things I learnt in my first term – keeping on top of your coursework, especially reading if you are a combined Major like me studying English Literature AND History – look forward to that reading list!
The reading list is hefty, yes, but not unmanageable if you manage your time well. If you have access to your reading list before you start your course (for English Literature this is the case) then read ahead as much as you can because once you get stuck into your course and your to-do list is piled high with reading Jane Austen and Shakespeare as well as essay deadlines AND socialising (how do uni students do it, right?) then you will be glad you read ahead. Chip away at it bit by bit – an hour one day whilst you're having lunch, couple of hours if you have a day off, 10 mins whilst you're on the bus to Sainsbury's, then come to the weekend, quick check over everything and before you know it you are prepared for your 9am lecture on 'Gender and Race in Oroonoko' Monday morning!
Take time for yourself
Coming to university is intense, partly for the amount of people you meet and for me, particularly in the first few weeks, I felt like I always had to be with my flatmates or meeting people through running socials and badminton taster sessions or I would be missing out on some vital piece of gossip or a group joke and would be excluded forever. (For future reference, this does not happen!)
As much as I loved hanging out with people, particularly my flatmates in the first few weeks, it was so nice when I got the odd hour to myself whether that was unpacking the last of my stuff from home, or just chilling watching Grey’s Anatomy. As the weeks went by and I got to know people better, it became easier to get a little me-time and the thing is, it’s needed. The days when you’ve had three seminars and a lecture on Ancient Sparta mixed in there too as well as perhaps submitting an essay that day, all you want to do at the end of it is put your comfiest joggers on, grab a Costa or a Greggs (if you can handle the queues!) and chill.
So, I survived my first term as a undergraduate and lived to tell the tale. Now these tips aren't a sure-fire way of getting through your first term at Lancaster – those assignments might pile up on you and it might take you until second term to find those you gel with, but you follow these and you'll be heading in the right direction!