Top tips for starting at university

Darllenwch yn y Gymraeg

Our guest blogger this week is Christian, who recently graduated from Cardiff University with a (BA) History. Christian reflects back on his experience of being at Cardiff and provides some top tips on starting as a Fresher.

Cardiff Uni Blog

It’s really weird being a recent graduate living in a city like Cardiff which is populated by so many students. I find myself looking out of coffee shop windows (enviously) as fresher’s rock up for their first term here, or final years moving into their new place in Cathays.

There’s so much excitement in the first week of the university term, and it’s really tricky being on the other side looking in. In this blog, I’m going to talk about my top tips for making the best of uni, so you spend more time thinking about what you did, rather than what you wish you had done.

  1. Make the most of first year

There’s a reason why many degree schemes only expect a pass in your first year. The main reason is because they know many students are adjusting to working at a high academic level, and want to give students the opportunity to adjust. Universities also want to give you the time to make friends, have new experiences, join societies and ultimately, settle into the next three years in what will be for many students their new city and new surroundings.

  1. Take advantage of student services

In my first week at Cardiff, I attended several classes on time management, how to write an essay and how to reference, all offered free of charge by the University (you can even get a certificate to say you’ve been to all the classes!). There are careers and employability services there to help you write up your CV and find work experience, and the Global Opportunities Centre can help you go abroad to volunteer, study, or work. For those who are struggling, the University also offers both financial support through hardship funs and emotional support through free, on-campus counselling.

  1. Don’t rush on housing

In the first few months (and even weeks!) of first year, there already seems to be a massive pressure to decide who you’ll be living with in your second year and finding a place to live. I can’t stress how important it is that you take your time on housing. You’ll hear stories from different letting agencies saying that the ‘good’ houses are running out around October/November. This is not the case. Cardiff is a huge city with loads of student housing. Take your time, try different agencies, do lots of viewings, and take plenty of notes/pictures.

Cardiff Uni Blog3

  1. Immerse yourself in your course

Amongst the societies, the sports, the cups of coffee in cute coffee shops in Cardiff’s arcades, the main reason why you came to University was to study, and to study a subject you (hopefully) adore as much as I loved History.

For me, this was the first time I was surrounded by people who shared the same passion for my subject, and I was being lectured by people who lived and breathed their subject areas. Be sure to familiarise yourself with your library, and ask the friendly librarians for help if you need it – they feel like your best friends by the end of your degree.

Cardiff Uni blog2

  1. Discover the city

Wherever you decide to go, make sure you explore beyond the student area of your city. I have many friends who very rarely made it beyond Cathays (the main student village), and they seriously missed out on some incredible places.

There are so many others things I could say here, but these are my top 5. Ultimately, my final piece of advice would be to enjoy yourself. University definitely was the best time of my life, but it zoomed past, so please make the most of it!


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