So this is really relatable to me now, as it is the second time that I am a fresher. Your first day in university is always daunting. It’s completely different to school because in school, you are assigned to a select group of people in what you would call a form/class and you will go throughout school with the same form. This isn’t the same at university because depending on your course, you might be assigned to lectures containing between 20 and a couple of hundred people. Seminars, tutorials and workshops are completely different in the sense that they cater to a small group of people with a more personal learning experience, however, these most likely change in second year. Throughout university, you may be with a few of the same people as you were in first year as they might be on the same course as you but you will most likely meet new people on your course every year.
The first week you are at university will most likely be called ‘Welcome Week’. Welcome week is a bit tedious. You will spend most of the week going to long, boring talks, generally talking about what you will study in the year. It does, however, give you the chance to talk to any faculty members who may help you with any worries or concerns. Most of the talks you go to won’t be compulsory, however, it is advised that you attend so you know who your tutors will be and it also gives you the chance to meet new friends. The faculty members will try to make this week as “fun” for you by putting on a series of events to ensure that you mix with new people and to compromise for the talks that you will be persuaded to attend.
Just remember, the lecturers are not daft; they know that you will most likely be hungover from the night before because ‘welcome week’ is scheduled the same week as freshers week. In fact, I would say that ‘welcome week’ is designed to ensure that you are doing something with your time in the day, rather than just staying in bed all day hungover.
I remember my first day in Reading. I walked to my first welcome talk in anticipation. Obviously I got lost on the way there, so make sure you check out where all the rooms are before you arrive for any lectures. You might think you know the way but will be surprised when you turn up to the wrong building and end up walking into your lecture late with the whole lecture theatre looking at you.
Things you will need to take with you: a pen, notebook and laptop are essential. I was never told whether to type or write notes. I suppose it’s down to personal preference. I quite liked writing notes in lectures and then typing them up, which works as a revision method during the year. I know some people liked to type their notes in lectures, however, I found this distracting as I would find myself looking at social media websites. But as I said, it’s all down to personal preference.
Lectures are normally between 1-3 hours. You normally are allowed to take snacks or drinks with you, in case you get peckish. I would advise this because it saves you the effort and embarrassment of walking out of the lecture theatre to get something to eat. If you need to go to the toilet then just get up and go. Lectures are not like lessons in school where you had to ask permission to do anything; you are meant to be completely independent.
If you have a question about anything said in a lecture or seminar, then don’t be afraid to ask. If you don’t ask you will regret it because that one answer could be the solution to your problems. Also, other students might benefit from you asking this one question. So ask away!
I am not suggesting this but if you feel the need to leave a lecture at any time, it is perfectly acceptable. You might get funny looks from your lecturer but they see it all the time and besides, as blunt as it sounds, you are just a number.
It is perfectly acceptable to feel nervous on your first day. You are starting something completely new. Even in my position where I had already attended one welcome week was a little nervous for the second. I didn’t know what the people on my course would be like, I didn’t know where any of the rooms were, I had no idea who I was going to sit by during the lectures because I was not living in halls so I wouldn’t have met anyone.
After your first day of welcome week, you will most likely feel like you are going to have the most boring time in university but just remember, lectures and classes start the week after which you will enjoy more because you chose to study the course that you are enrolled on. I personally would make the most of your first day and week by meeting as many people as you can because your whole time in university will be about making connections with friends and professional people.
I, like you was nervous but just be positive and be confident with the whole idea. Just remember, everyone will be in the same position as you so don’t be disheartened if you find yourself forcing a conversation to someone. It will get easier over time.