I’ve already spent a year in the UK. It’s so unbelivable for me and it all just has seemed to whiz past. I’ve made some amazing new friends and I’ve had some incredible opportunities since I first arrived in Guildford in September 2014. I remember being scared, excited and overwhelmed all at the same time. Here was a town that was unfamiliar, and I’m not used to unfamiliar things. I didn’t know the bus routes, or where the groceries were. I had never heard of some of the shops before, and of course, I didn’t know my way around the campus. I remember getting lost, staring at a lot of maps, and figuring out the coins with with to pay the bus driver.
It’s a huge change, and I hadn’t expected it to be easy. But thanks to my friends, and my professors as well as my parents, my ride has been relatively smooth in this transition. Still, here are some things I wish someone had told me around this time last year:
1. Don’t Be Too Shy
Surrey has a lot to offer and if you let it, it can be your second home. Getting involved (sports, the union, societies, part time work etc etc) and leading a busy life will take away that homesick feeling altogether. When you’re involved, you meet people, and you make friends. It’s the easiest to make friends in your first year as everybody is literally in the same boat. I am a very introverted person and I tend to keep to myself unless approached by a third party. Sometimes, this doesn’t really work out for me. I realised this by about November of last year and tried to stop being self-conscious of my accent and the fact that I was the only girl on my course wearing trackies to uni (That’s how we dress back home… apparently I didn’t get the dress code memo here.)
2. Stop converting currency in your head
I struggle with this even now. Everytime I come back from spending holidays at home, the Canadian Dollar is fresh in my brain. This means £3 to me is automatically converted to approximately $6. This makes shopping (for anything) literally so much harder. Everytime I eat out I always want to cry. But then eventually, I get used to the quid. Then.. I go home for holidays and the cycle begins again. It’s vicious.
3. Time Management is Key
I am a born procrastinator. I procrastinate procrastination. Last year was a wakeup call for me; when I would start a lab report the night before it was due. All this leads to is unnecessary stress, that you really don’t need on top of all the regular stress that is uni. Make a calendar, keep tabs of all your appointments. Keep caught up with your lectures. First year was easy (ish) for me and I didn’t pick up this habit. But second year was a slap in the face and I wish I had. I learnt it the hard way
4. Let your professors help you
Seriously. That’s what they’re there for. Go see them during office hours if you have any questions. They’re always happy to help and more often that not will make you feel better about your problems with coursework. Record lectures if you can; I am terrible at note taking. I can’t even type fast enough, forget writing everything down. Recording helps me go back to those lectures and do them peacefully in my own time. Go see your personal tutors! They are there for any help you may need, also, they write your references so it’s a good thing to get to know them so they know you on a personal level
5. Use the library resources
I never used SPLASH last year. But thanks to a very influential friend, I’ve started. I must admit, it’s helpful. Use books from the library. You don’t have to spend millions to buy them when you can just sign them out. Extra reading never hurt anyone, and if anything, it gives you that extra information you need to ace that essay on your final.
6. Say yes to more things and try out new things that you may not have before
Refer back to ‘1. Don’t Be Shy’.
7. Remember to have fun
All work and no play made Jack a dull boy!
I hope that somehow helps. University is an incredible experience if you let it be and there is literally so much you can do. A very cool person in my life once gave me some pretty cool advice: be yourself and tackle everything with a smile 🙂
Also, Happy Thanksgiving to our Southern neighbours. This is really just an excuse for me to eat turkey not once, but twice before Christmas throws itself in my face.
PS: ONE MONTH TILL CHRISTMAS. WHAT WHAT