Hey guys, so my course is very intense and very different to a normal degree studying a subject. We have had very different experiences but, fortunately for everyone I have an amazing best friend who’s a great writer to tell you all about how the other half lives. – Sophie
Intrigued? Keep reading.
Ellie- So for me, this first year has been a wild ride. I feel like nothing and everything has changed all at once. Like, my friends and family back in my home town haven’t changed but I feel like maybe I have? And that is what is so great about university in my opinion.
University (and moving away from home especially) opens you up to the scary realisations that really you knew nothing when at 18 and living at home you thought you knew everything – you for want of a better phrase were a billy big bollocks with nothing to show for it, no real-life experiences. You never experienced that first fear when you rent goes out of your newly topped up bank account courtesy of Student Finance England, or the realisation of how expensive toilet paper actually is (which seriously that is not fair it is a commodity), and even how a roll of toilet paper can actually vanish in approximately twelve hours! But these realisations manifest into a whole bunch of them that actually demonstrate, as much as you don’t want to admit it, your parents really did know what they were going on about and that you definitely should have listened to them, whilst cutting them some slack. I, in particular, was a little bit of a frosty stuck up 18 before I went to uni, and whilst most of that has actually stuck it’s buried a little deeper – which let’s be honest had to be done otherwise I would not have made one single friend.
new city, new place, new people?
Honestly, you think that making friends would be the hardest part but if you give it the time it honestly it is possibly the most natural part of university. Yes, this is just in my opinion, which is from someone who is (it is fair to say) a very big extrovert, but if you really think about it you are thrown into a very large group of people where everyone is in the same situation. The only thing I would say is that everyone really has to make an effort – if you sit in lectures or your halls room all by yourself and don’t make an effort with other people then you will really struggle to make friends. That is a harsh reality, but it is the truth of the matter. Seriously just say “hi” to the people you sit next to in your seminars, you might not end up being the best of friends but it will make the whole atmosphere less tense (actually this is how I met two of my closest mates at uni – but it is actually a module we all really hate but are thankful that we met each other through it!).
Living with 11 humans?!
The easiest place to meet people really is in your halls. My advice would be to do what I’ve done and picked the cheapest accommodation (sometimes this is the largest one as well), and to be honest this was probably the best thing I could have done. Living with eleven other humans (I am in a flat of 12) means that the odds are you are definitely going to like at least one of them, my experience though is slightly swayed by the fact that all twelve of us still get on and we still are yet to have an argument with only 3 weeks to go until we move out. But if you’re afraid that you will not make friends the largest accommodation, or what is known as the most sociable accommodation is definitely the one that will be the best fit. Although there should be a fair warning with this – they are usually the loudest of all the halls but you have to bear in mind that it is only for about eight months.
OUT or… OUT-OUT?
Obviously one of the biggest activities that will (if you are that way inclined or your course allows it) be going out. Nights out for me have been one of the biggest bonding moments with the other humans I have met, the honest truth is that drinking games will give you more information about your friends/flatmates than you ever will want to know. But you have to take that as part of the fun. But one main thing to remember is that if you’re not feeling a night out or socialising then DO NOT PUSH YOURSELF, no one is (and should never) force you to go out when you don’t feel like it and your friends at Uni will appreciate this. I LOVES a night out, don’t get me wrong but honestly sometimes you will just want a night in either by yourself or just chatting to flatmates (the day I am writing this is after I bailed on a night out to just have some time to myself which ended with my flatmates and I just chatting with tea in the kitchen).
One other thing that has massively characterised my year was joining a dance society, where we had socials once a month and it was a lovely atmosphere to get to know different groups of people. There was a show in March which we worked towards from January to march, and I was given the opportunity to choreograph and teach a Pointe dance (a style of ballet) for the show and that was so much fun and gave me such a sense of pride when the photos came back from the show. So much that, I applied in our society’s AGM to be the committee’s showgirl (the one who coordinates the end of year show) and to be three next years resident ballet teacher – which I cannot be more excited to do! I have danced since I was two and a half, so this was a priority when I went to Uni and it might not be for you but there are literally loads of societies that you can join if you want to or your course allows you the time. But I would fully recommend it.
Wait: you pay for what?
Now, this is the point where I have to talk about the most boring point of university – the bit that you actually pay for – the lectures. The reason that this is last is that to me as a first year, this has actually been the least important part of my experience so far. You will sit through about 20+ lectures per module per semester – there is no way that you are going to remember all of this and you will not find every topic interesting… Now my lecturers are quite sneaky and do not video their lectures, so you have to turn up and find out there and then if you find it interesting. Tip 1: if you don’t think that you want to study that topic for your exams, then don’t stress out by making notes just sit there and listen because that way you can still feel like it was a productive hour. But if by the end of it you actually did find it interesting then crack on, the lecture slides are usually published on your portal afterwards and your mates who did find it interesting should be happy enough to supply you with their notes (lets be honest that whole “don’t copy my work” goes right out of the window because you all want to do your best and everyone is too busy to care at this point). Also tip 2: at the start of a semester there usually a published list of the lectures that there are going to be and sometimes the slides are there beforehand. Use this to your advantage, the slide notes are generally an overview of the topic, so the lecturers generally say all the important stuff. SO this is what I have found to be the best use of my time. The night before, copy and paste the slide information into a Document (honestly I use OneNote and it has been FAB), this takes max 20 mins and it means that you can really listen and put the most important information down without missing or being stressed about what the lecturers say! My actual opinions on my lectures have been that the first semester I found them all really interesting, they were on Scottish history which was amazing because at my school we only ever focused on English history. But this second semester has been more variable, the lectures were based on the rise and the creation of Europe, which I found less interesting but still, some lectures were really good. However, the main thing to note is that both semesters covered 1000 years’ worth of History – so that really is a massive amount to learn, YOU WILL NEVER REMEMBER ALL OF IT.
What is also worth me noting is that Glasgow has a tri-subject system for the first two years of your four-year degree. Which actually means you have your major subject which you will carry on to honours (so for me that is history which I will carry on to the third year), and two minor subjects (mine are currently Celtic Civilisations and beginners French) which give you the opportunity to learn about things that you never have had the option to . It also means that by the end of the second year if you are not enjoying your major subject then you can change to one of your minor subjects and it just gives you so much flexibility with your degree. This applies to most subjects but not subjects like Law or engineering – to my knowledge anyway.
But what are probably the most important things from my first year: is that you just have to go with what happens and don’t feel like you have to follow this plan in your head – just do what you enjoy, in most places first year does not count towards your degree and is just a way to settle in and understand the university system.
Currently, our most said phrase is “ D is for degree”. So don’t stress too much and “down it fresher”.
- @ejdougan Instagram
Thanks so much for reading, hopefully, you enjoyed a more journalistic insight into the first-year university in Scottland.
Like and comment below! See you tomorrow
Thanks, Ellie & Sophie