1. Create your own space
The stereotype of any university bedroom is for there to be posters. Posters everywhere. I wouldn’t put it past some uni students to put posters in their en-suite bathrooms if I’m being honest. And although it might seem cliche, and you might be one of those weird people who hates cliches – a cliche is a cliche for a reason. Putting up posters, photos of your family and friends, bringing cushions and a blanket for your bed, and some stuff to put on the desk genuinely does turn a room that has belonged to hundreds of other people’s into a room that belongs to you.
2. Eat at regular intervals
I know plenty of people who’s eating habits have gone steadily downhill since going to university. “Cooking is effort” they say. “Eating takes time away from doing work” – no, eating keeps you energised and motivated. Do you really think those extra 200 words you’ve managed to write because you skipped lunch are worth it? Because I can almost guarantee that you’ll go back, delete those 200 words and rewrite them at some point in the future.Plus cooking gives you a 30 minute break where you don’t have to think about how many deadlines you have. If you’re one of those people who forgets to eat, have two alarms (one for dinner and one for tea) that go off at specific times each day that remind you to eat.
3. Drink enough water
Being dehydrated has a massive effect on your energy levels and brain function, but people often don’t realise when they ARE dehydrated because it takes its toll in subtle ways. If you find yourself lacking in motivation or feeling exhausted after only being up for a couple of hours – chances are you’re not drinking enough water. So just make sure to have a bottle of water in your bag everywhere you go, that way you don’t have to spend money buying one from the shop on campus.
4. Get enough sleep/rest
If someone had told me when I was in my first year of university that I’d be writing a blog post in two years’ time recommending freshers to “get enough sleep” I wouldn’t have believed them. My social life was so active in first year – from night’s out, to societies to going to the pub after a lecture with friends – I just didn’t even think about sleep til the morning after when that 9am rolled around. If you haven’t got a full 8 hours sleep during the night, I’d recommend two 30 minute naps throughout the day whenever you feel your eyelids dropping (only giving yourself 30 minutes will feel like a nightmare but any more and you’ll never wake up).
5. Prioritise/manage your life-load
This point was originally “prioritise your workload” but this weird thing happens at university where your workload and life-load kind of just combine themselves together and there are points where you end up in the library until 2am because you spent all day at the pub. What I started to do in my second year was write down all the things I was doing and needed to do at the start of the week. My list would have regular things like “finish essay” and “food shop” on it, but it would also have “night out on Wednesday” and “gym on Tuesday” written on it so that both my work life and social life were given equal priority.
6. Fresh food
It’s tempting to go to Morrisons and buy everything from the freezer section for the sake of saving money – because why buy fresh peppers when you can buy them frozen and they won’t go out of date for ages? But seriously, if you want to feel fit and healthy – frozen food is not the way forward. Having a fresh salad with your jacket potato rather than some frozen pees just – for some odd reason – makes you feel way better in yourself.
I couldn’t afford to join a gym in my first year because my rent was too expensive, so during the winter my friend & I would go for an hour long walk, and during the summer we would go for a run, and then afterwards I would do some lifting and toning with the weights I had brought with me to university in my room. Although it wasn’t much, and I definitely did more exercise in my second year when I could afford to join a gym, I still benefited from feeling like I was doing some form of exercise.
8. Get some fresh air
This definitely ties in with the above point, as going out for walks or a run just lets you get out and clear your head. Whether you have a friend or your music to distract you, it’s nice to get out of your university accommodation to do something other than go to a lecture or to one of the night’s down at the SU. Plus getting fresher air means you’re more likely to sleep at night, so it ties in with point number 4 as well.
9. Write down what’s in your head
Although university is probably going to be one of the best experiences of your life, there are times when it’s a proper strain on your mentality. University definitely isn’t being thrown in at the deep end – you still have adults around to help you with things and aren’t expected to deal with everything on your own like a proper grown up – it can feel like that at first. You’ll spend the first month thinking how great it is that you can cook what you want, go out when you want and clean you room whenever (or never). But sometimes having to cope with all of that at once can be difficult – which is why I’d recommend getting a book completely separate to your diary/planner/notebooks for your lectures, and having it there so you can write down exactly what you’re thinking or struggling with, even if it is literally “I want to go home”.
10. Use the university’s resources (please)
It’s definitely possible to get work done in your room, or even in your communal area (but probably less so). But because your room will be associated with other things – relaxing, watching a film, messaging friends and sleeping – you’ll be more likely to be distracted in this area. And even after those distractions there’s the fact that your flat will probably be in the kitchen watching the new episode of Hollyoaks and you just won’t be able to stop yourself from ditching work to join them. So when deadline season hits make sure to use the library or whatever other resources available to you on campus to get your work done – I promise you that you’ll get it done quicker and to a better standard than when you’re surrounded by distractions.
All this being said makes me feel like one of those annoying family members who’s constantly asking you to “make sure you take care of yourself”, so here’s a photo of me to assure you I’m still a young fresher at heart: