When I chose Newcastle University as my first choice on UCAS, I couldn’t have been more excited and that feeling didn’t go away, and still hasn’t. I’m now coming to the end of my second year in Newcastle and I wouldn’t change my choice for the world, but that doesn’t mean that when I arrived on that Sunday in September 2015 that I wasn’t petrified.
I’m a real home bird, so flying the nest was a really scary thing for me, and I only live 50 miles away from Newcastle! I remember having been told what to expect by my older siblings, friends, teachers, and parents, but I think what is important to remember is that your university experiences are unique. I unlocked the door to my flat expecting to find 5 people nothing like me, and that’s what I did find, and it worked. We spent our first night with our new neighbours, and that was the start of a group friendship where we all still talk everyday – I wouldn’t have made it this far without my flatmates and friends from my course and it seems very strange two years down the line to be looking back to a time where I didn’t even know them.
Walking onto campus on the first day of the semester was incredibly nerve-wracking, I felt like the new kid at school, but what I soon came to learn was that everyone else did too. (Keep this in mind in your first year, you are never alone; most people are feeling exactly the same). Lectures were a whole new kettle of fish – going from a classroom of 17/18 in my geography lessons to a lecture theatre with more than ten times as many students was a shock, but again, everyone was in the same situation. You very quickly come to learn that people know they are in the right room, but it’s a great conversation starter to ask someone that (other great freshers’ conversation starters include: I love your bag! ; Am I late? ; You’re first year (insert subject here) too, right? ; I got so lost on my way here!).
After having made it through the first few weeks, I was feeling much more comfortable. Well that was until the first assignment hit. Learning to write in a completely different style and to reference can be tricky, but there is a great writing development centre on campus to help, and usually your tutor and mentors will give you some guidance. The first one is always the worst, and once you’ve completed your first assignment it’s a great feeling. Your first exams at uni are another challenge, but it’s definitely not worth treating them as any bigger or scarier than those you’ve already done to get to uni in the first place! Keep doing what’s worked for you up until this point, and exams will pass over in no time!
My biggest advice for first years now would be to embrace it as much as you possibly can, and never say no! Use first year as a time to find your feet in Newcastle and get used to the changes you’ve faced. Oh and make as many friends and memories as you can – they will last forever!