Ah. University days. First-year students may feel like the year is flashing past at overwhelming light speed, but take it from someone who’s been there, done that and got the whole university experience stored wistfully in their memories: these really are the best days of your life! That said, if I could go back and give my newbie self some advice – I would!
College life is so different from anything you’ve probably experienced before. Everything is new, exciting and fast-paced. On the one hand, it can be hard to keep up, and on the other, it feels like university life is something that could last forever. But it won’t.
Here are a few things I wish someone had told me while I was a new university student.
The bigger picture is what you’ll remember
Ever heard the saying “don’t sweat the small stuff”? It means you shouldn’t be hyper-focused on insignificant details when the bigger picture is more important. After 3 or 4 years (or more if you do post-grad) at university, you won’t remember that time your friend wouldn’t let you borrow your textbook or the one class you missed because you were sick. But you will remember whether you had a good relationship with your friends, and how much you enjoyed learning new things.
Squabbles with friends or a not-quite-perfect assignment are not important parts of your university experience. And you can choose not to obsess; you can choose to forgive and forget, you can choose to let stuff go if it’s not a matter of life-and-death importance.
Be open to new friends
You may think you know exactly who you are and what you want out of life, but the truth is that you still have years of growing up and personal development ahead of you! Don’t be close-minded and judgemental when it comes to meeting new people and changing your ideas about what kind of people you like to hang out with.
University is so diverse, bringing together people from all walks of life. Give new people a chance and be open to doing new things. It could be the start of a beautiful lifelong friendship – but only if you’re willing to throw your pre-judgement and opinions out of the window.
Say yes to new experiences
University is your chance to live your life to the full, and campus life offers many experiences that you won’t have the opportunity to enjoy later in life. Whether it’s making the most of your professors and mentors to grow your knowledge, taking part in extramural activities, learning a new sport, or visiting local arts and music festivals, you should say yes to new experiences that are out of your comfort zone.
Newbie self advice – Learn to be a good friend
Here’s a bit of unlikely advice for students: university is not just about getting a degree and having a bit of fun along the way. Your years in college are important because that’s when you grow from a teen into a young adult, and form friendships that carry you through into adult life. If you leave university with a qualification but no lasting friendships, believe me, you will regret it. Build meaningful relationships with your friends, so that you can support each other through tough times at college and all the years beyond!
So take some time to stop, breathe and enjoy your university experience. It’s a time to make memories for a lifetime, and you don’t want to have any regrets when you look back one day.