Friday, 20 May 2011

A guide to University for new students

I recently finished my first year at Teesside University, and for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed it, but there are a few things I wish I had known before I went.

Assignments with a deadline that’s a month away can’t be done in one day

I’ve seen people try, but the results aren’t pretty. I generally don’t touch an assignment until half of the time I have to do it has lapsed, and even though I finish in plenty of time, I always feel slightly rushed. Save yourself the hassle, do half an hour each night and get them out the way. I've never left an assignment until the day before the deadline, but I've seen others do it, and their grades reflected it.

You can live on baked potatoes and tuna mayo

Potatoes are a great source of vitamins and minerals, and they’re a real energy booster, because they’re pretty much pure carbohydrate. Tuna mayo provides you with a good dose of protein, and the mayo is a calorie booster. I eat this meal a lot, especially when money is tight, because potatoes and canned tuna are very cheap. However, there is one downside to this kind of diet…

You will gain weight

Yes, most people go to Uni and end up putting on a few kilos. It’s a combination of sitting on their backsides all day in the library, alcohol consumption and living on frozen pizzas and baked potatoes and tuna mayo. I’ve gained about 7 kgs (roughly a stone) since I went to uni, and I blame poor diet and lack of exercise, although not being able to walk for 2 months might have had something to do with it…

The student loan is not enough to cover your living expenses for a year

I don’t know how they calculate the figures, but there’s no way that you can pay your rent and still have enough left over for food, travel, clothes and other expenses. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve had other sources of income, but those who are jobless had better think of finding some sort of employment, because the paltry living expenses loan won’t be enough on its own.

Always try to choose your housemates

I have had the housemates from hell this year, four international students who simply would not tidy up after themselves. During term 1 I discovered we had mice nesting behind the fridge, and then in term 2 environmental health got involved. Try to move in with people who you know aren’t slobs.

The library is a much better place to study than in your bedroom

If your bedroom is anything like mine it’s full of distractions. Trying to do an assignment when your PS3 is less than a meter away from you is difficult, especially when Portal 2 is in the disc drive. The library is a distraction-free environment where you can go and work. Spread out your paperwork, open up your word processor and get some work done in peace. Just be sure to stay off the net.

There’s always one class that you will hate

It might be the course material, it might be the lecturer, it might even be the classroom, but I guarantee there will be at least one class you wish you didn’t have to do, especially when it’s a mandatory one.

Reading for pleasure suddenly becomes a chore

When you are wading through text books day after day the last thing you want to do for pleasure is read a book. I was a big reader before uni, and in my first term I still was, but as the workload picked up and I spent more time with my head in my textbooks I read less and less, because I just couldn’t be bothered.

Your eyesight will deteriorate

Chances are you’ll be reading until the small hours of the morning, probably by some dim little desk light, and your eyes will begin to scream. Over the course of this year I went from being slightly long sighted to having thick glasses, and I swear it’s because of all the reading.

It's not all doom and gloom...

So far the experience has been wonderful, and I'm so looking forward to my second year. It's worth being blind, skint and overweight just to be there, honestly =]

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