Surviving your first year at university

University student, Shaaira Meghji shares her thoughts on surviving your first year at university.

Have you ever been so careful with money your parents gave you that you accounted for each penny? Yup, that was me, so afraid to spend it all that I’d be left stranded, afraid to ask my dad only because I spent the money for all the wrong reasons.  Even though I did that, I still ended up broke and I don’t know why.

Being on your own, especially for the first time can be surprisingly difficult, with range of emotions you’ve probably never felt. There’s a mix of excitement and happiness but fear kind off lingers around you making you feel so anxious, waiting to see what the year what has in store for you. Inspiration and the idea of independence kept me going, the pleasure of attaining a degree, the benefits it would put toward my personal growth and future.

Now, thinking back, it can be a rough period; with or without family by your side, it’s going to be tough, you just need to know how to deal with it, move past it and look at the positive outcomes of this journey. Over the past 2 years, I have finally come up with a few tips to help students through it.

Accept what is happening and prepare yourself

Accepting the situation gives you a chance to mentally prepare what’s in store for you, you can even try expecting the worst; understand where and why you’re going – Make it your mission to successfully achieve. You need to work for it.


You can never know too much about an area until you actually visit it. Research your area, surroundings, how to get around, the lifestyle etc – it will really prepare you and make the first few weeks a lot easier.

Time management

Literally use timers when you’re studying or doing an assignment. Plan out your days. To be fair, students days don’t usually go as planned, you tend to procrastinate and there are a lot of distractions, which is fine; it’s the beauty of uni life.

The key is to know your limits and at least have a rough idea of what you should be doing. Or even better, use your procrastination excuses as a treat, for when you finish your work. Try getting in to a daily routine to balance out everything you need to do and want to do. #happy-productive uni student.


Some of us are studying in cities we’ve never seen, let alone heard off until application time. As a student you tend to have some free time so use it to explore the city and the country. You’ll be amazed at how beautiful it is.

Explore yourself as well. Again, you’ll be surprised as to how much you didn’t know you could do. As you explore yourself, and others, you’ll see how much you learn and grow – when you look back 2 years, you’re definitely not the same person.

Learn to enjoy solitude

During your time at university, you’re going to be on your own a lot, even with a million friends, you’ll still feel lonely. You must learn to love your solitude. It gives you time to reflect, think, anticipate and expand on your dreams. Being alone isn’t the worst thing. I love it now.

Plan your future

You’re not a child anymore. Sooner or later you’re going to start working and whether or not your family has an established empire waiting for you to take over. The question is what you want for your future. Once you know what you want, it gives you direction and allows for baby steps toward achieving the best future for yourself. It will also motivate you to succeed in university with flying colours. It doesn’t have to be a proper plan, just ideas and directions. The university has services which you can use to help you with your plans.

Stay in halls

My god, halls is probably the best part of first year, with so much fun and laughter.  It’s like a family. Your flatmates will stick by you through everything, throughout your uni life. They make it easier, more fun and make great, forever cherished memories.

Get a part-time job

The joy of earning your own money is great, even though it’s not a large sum; you have to start somewhere. It builds your CV (By the way, start working on that now) and occupies your free time where you’d be wasting more time than you should be. You learn a lot as well.

Limit contact with home

when you’re more comfortable in your new environment, try forgetting home for a while. Forget about the security off your future, try and think that you’re the only person in the world who will give you want you want, (which is true), forget who expects what from you. This will motivate you to do what you want to do, achieve your dreams and not others dreams. It will give you strength as an individual, learning to rely on just yourself.

Be socially active

Go on group study sessions or simply work in the library or even join committees within the student union. Make friends from your lectures/classes. You guys are all in the same position. Making friends is important; you’ll find friends, I promise.  In fact, the friends you make in university are the friends that you will always have, the bond that you share is beyond words because uni is rough sometimes and these guys have your back.

You may also experience a culture shock, and it may put you down or make you feel homesick. If you interact with more students, you’ll slowly get used to it and you won’t even notice it anymore. You can even find people from your home country you did not know about, people who share a similar culture or a completely different one – so diversified here.

It’s not a competition, stay calm

A lot of students, including myself, experienced lots of anxiety, and like I said earlier, it’s a mix of emotions. You’re bound be anxious and you may confuse it with homesickness.

It’s okay to be anxious, you’re anxious because you have realized how demanding life can be, adjusting to the new life. The only solution is you, the way you handle it. It’s not high school, it’s not a competition, do your best and you’ll be rewarded.  Create step by step plans toward your future.

Make the most of group work and classes

Please go to your classes, you’re marked on your attendance. A lot of your work will be in groups, especially coursework which will help prepare you for the workplace.

Learn how to manage and budget your money

Money. It’s very important to prioritize where and how you spend it. Sometimes you could be in situation that is compromising and then what? Make a budget and stick to it. Save up. #minting by graduation.

Keep fit and eat well

Feeding yourself is tough but important. You need to know what to eat every day, even if it’s just one good meal a day. Eating well cancels out the stress of no food. The internet is full of tasty, quick easy recipes. Learn how to cook and cook for your friends as well! Eating and that too, together with people you connect with makes you happy and being happy takes you a long way.

Keep fit as well. Join the gym or go for runs or yoga classes, whatever you want. Incorporate this in to your daily routine. Keeping fit makes you feel more productive, healthy and happy and thus more efficient.


All in all, university is a fantastic experience with opportunities for personal growth and success. Make the most of it; anyone who is able to go to university should count themselves lucky. Remember the knowledge from all your experiences is something no one can ever take away from you. Don’t waste your efforts; someone would kill to be in your position.

Go, be your own person. Go on your adventure; come back with immense success, experience achievements, a future plan that you’ve secured for yourself. It’s going to be tough at first, but you’ll love it, every bit of it, because you learnt and conquered it all by yourself. You grew up. Good luck!

Thank you to Shaira Meghji, University of Brighton student for writing this post.

Sarah Digon • February 19, 2018

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