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Friday, 7 July 2017

How to get the most out of your time at University

Hello hello! It’s crazy to think that this time last year I graduated. I really struggled with even the thought of graduating as I just didn’t think it would ever happen. I had a love hate relationship with uni and went through days where I was convinced I’d get a first, then got knocked back down again and was convinced I’d failed. I juggled running two businesses, family issues and everything else you can imagine with my final year and ran myself into the ground. After all of this, it feels so long ago even though it was only this time last year. Today I wanted to talk to you about how to get the most out your time at university and I hope it helps you!
LEEDS UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
Freshers week - First things first, go to freshers week and enjoy it. At my uni, they had freshers week fairs which were really handy as you could pick up all your essentials (for free sometimes from the stalls) and get money saving tips and advice. I even opened a bank account and applied for my railcard, as well as signing up for a gym membership. It’s a good way to get through the admin. Freshers is definitely the way to meet friends too, I wish I pushed a little harder in freshers as people in my halls seemed to click from day one if they spent freshers week together. Definitely go on the nights out in freshers week, it's a great way to bond.

Admin -  Getting your admin done pre-starting uni is a great idea as it means you can enjoy your time without feeling like you have boring adult things to do on top of socialising, trying to make friends, moving to a new place and studying. If not though, freshers week is a great week to do it as they usually have loads of deals on. For me, I’d say the most important admin is setting up your bank account and organising student loans etc. I had a separate bank account just for my student loan to go into, this meant I didn’t touch it. How you use your student loan is up to you but I couldn’t face seeing that money go into my savers account to tempt me. My small loan was there to help pay towards my accommodation and that’s why I made the decision to make a separate account for it (I made my mum keep the card so I never touched it). It’s totally up to you how you spend your money, but I had a part time job and used that wage to live on and have fun with (most of my friends didn’t work at uni and their parents covered everything) and then I had my small loan towards accommodation whilst my mum had to help me cover the rest. The easiest way I managed all my finances was definitely mobile banking. I used the NatWest app which is so easy to use and allows you to withdraw money without your card using Get Cash. I lived right next door to a Tesco ATM making this perfect, you basically select the amount and they give you a secure code which you can use straight away, perfect if you’ve forgotten your card or lost it. You can also use Get Cash at NatWest ATMs too which is a dream if you live near one!

My NatWest student account helped me even more though, it comes with a coach card which means you get 4 years of discounted travel, you just have to sign up to receive paperless banking. It also comes with an overdraft, personally I don’t use an overdraft but most of my friends did, it helps give a bit of safety between bills going out and payments coming in as it really can be tough! You can apply for 500 in term 1 and then up to 2000, I never actually used mine but it’s a good safety net. Other admin issues included splitting the bills, whilst this was more of a second year thing, it caused a lot of drama (so make sure you live with the right people!)

Modules - I made sure I actually read my module handbook back to front before I started the degree. It’s safe to say I wasn’t always as conscientious throughout the rest of my time at University but at least knowing what’s going on is great. My course wasn’t very flexible and I was pretty much stuck to the modules on the course, some courses are great and they let you trial a module for a little bit and then if you don’t like it, you can drop it. Definitely make sure you choose a course that’s for you. It’s so tough because you are young when you’re made to decide and I definitely wouldn’t have done my course now looking back, in my final year I got to do one discovery module and it's the best module I've ever done because it was something I genuinely wanted to do. I scored 90% on it too which proves just how much I loved it in comparison to my normal modules.

Life skills - Remember, University isn’t just about studying though, it’s about life skills. You really have to get a work life balance or you’ll be like me, and feel like you left with barely any really good friends or good experiences. I did have good experiences and make one or two great friends for life at uni, but in all honesty, I put too much pressure on myself to get top grades in my first year and was so busy working on my blog that I left barely any time to focus on making friends. I was also so set in my ways with a long term, comfortable boyfriend throughout University, then when that came crashing down I sadly lost a group of people who I thought were lifelong friends, I now sit here feeling like I wasted so much energy on people when I could have made lifelong friends. I really think it’s so so important to balance a bit of everything at University. University changes you in such a positive way, from managing finances to dealing with professors to meeting people from all walks of life, it is an amazing opportunity to grow as a person. Embrace it.

Living - For me, I always say to people that moving out is a sure fire way to get a lot out of University. I know people have different opinions but this is just mine. I moved out and it meant I had to 100% fend for myself, I was dropped into a flat with complete strangers, had to make brand new friends from scratch, cook, clean and just become more of an adult I guess! University definitely made me independent.


Don't flunk it - You see a lot of intelligent people absolutely flunk first year. Luckily, at my University first year doesn’t count towards your final grades (sucks for me as I got a first in my first year) don’t be the intelligent person that goes on too many nights out and ends up failing first year. It’s cool and attractive to be intelligent at University.

Leeds university graduationDon’t judge - I first arrived and expected everyone to be like my friends from school and was shocked when they were so different. I’m telling you, this is a good thing. I became a better person at Uni because I made friends with so many different people, learnt their stories and learnt from them. It’s good to get away from what you’ve always known.



Year abroad - If I can tell you anything, it's definitely do a placement year or a year abroad. I worked so hard in my first year as you needed good grades to do a year abroad. It was by far the best year of my life and filled the little gap I had of not really meeting many life long friends in Leeds. I now have friends all over the globe. I will never forget that year, it gave me memories for life. Getting on a plane by myself to the other side of the world was an experience I’ll never forget, I was petrified and had to force myself to do it but it was worth it.

Don't stress - Easier said than done but don’t stress, you can do this, you have totally got this. I did it and so can you. There will be tough days, there will be days where you nap all day (totally acceptable at Uni by the way), there will be times where you cry, but those times made me who I am and definitely made me a better person! Be organised, have fun, work hard and learn the art of balancing! You’re all in the same situation!

Leave a comment and let me know how you felt about your University experience! Or are you about to go? I filmed a whole video about University too, watch that here! 

You should also read: 


Thanks to NatWest for sponsoring this post! Check out their website for more info on how you can make the most out of their student account and how to apply for one.

Lots of love, Em x

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