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It's OK to be afraid

Debate’s Zoe Holland looks at what works and what doesn’t when it comes to uni life


University can be scary. Whether you’ve come straight from school or taken some time to yourself, scary is oftentimes the word that pops up for people new to the uni game. To be fair, I’d be worried if someone didn’t have a little fear in them. Believe it or not, fear can sometimes be a good thing.


My first semester was horrible because I became too scared to do anything as I thought that I had to study 24/7. I thought that my tutors were aliens from a different planet and that I was the only person in my course who hadn’t made any friends. But what I didn’t initially realise was that a lot of people were feeling just like me.


So, to save you all the sad and depressing times that I went through, here’s a few of my mistakes that you might want to take note of:


Friends: If you’re that lucky person who’s studying the same thing as all your friends, good for you. However, many of us aren’t and will be starting from scratch in the friend department. I’m not going to lie and say that meeting people at uni is easy. With every different class, you’re generally with a whole new group of people and each lecture it’s you and a hundred others. I spent my whole first semester alone thinking that it would be good for myself and my grades as there wouldn’t be any distractions. But trust me – this isn’t for the best.


I hid away in the library between classes and I forced myself to study. And let’s be real, it wasn’t productive at all. It might take time, but trust me, after a group assignment or a familiar face in a few tutorials, it’ll be nice to have a friend who’ll understand the pains of your individual course. So don’t do what I did. I recommend you put yourself out there, because a friendly face or a person to sit next to will make studying a whole lot easier.


Timetables: It took me a week to build up the courage and ask someone how the room codes worked, so I’ll save you the hassle and explain it to you here.


First we have the building code e.g. WG, then we have the floor which the class/lecture hall is on e.g. level 6. Then we have the room number e.g. 08. And there you have it: WG608.


Tutors: Talk to your tutors. They might seem scary to start off with, but they’re there for you to learn. Try to get on a first-name basis with them as they’ll have hundreds of other students they’re dealing with and you don’t want to just be a face in the background. Tutors are honestly a wealth of knowledge for information and industry questions and connections. So, use them to your advantage and don’t be afraid to email them and get the simple one sentence reply with a “Sent from my iPhone” signature. They’re the ones who mark your assessments and exams so you might as well grab some wisdom from them while you’re at it.


Time management: In high school, your teachers would remind you about assignments. But at university, you’ll be lucky if your tutor even knows the right due date. Your tutors won’t be on your ass if you don’t hand in an assessment on time or don’t show up. It’s going to have to be you that stays responsible for this.


So there you go. I made a lot of mistakes in my first semester all because of my crippling fear of university. Just remember that you’re not the only one who’s going through it, so take a deep breath and try to make the most of your university experience.

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