Lucy Caul looks back on her first year at UofG and offers some advice to help incoming freshers make the most of theirs.
It’s 8:02am, and I’m on another commuter train into Glasgow Central. Never did I imagine I would be able to recite the train timetable backwards between Blantyre and Glasgow Central, yet here I am. I haven’t just become a student, I’ve turned into a trainspotter. An expert at avoiding the man who eats garlic every night or the woman who falls asleep on your shoulder every morning.
Travelling to campus is like an expedition into some great unknown wilderness. Each day you meticulously plan ahead to ensure you have your earphones, phone charger, laptop, which doesn’t quite fit into your newly purchased bag, and your weekly ticket at the ready. Your photo must be on display or you can expect to be reprimanded by Inspector Clouseau. Your pass for the clockwork orange must be topped up, especially on a Wednesday. Haven’t you heard? Wednesday is steak day. I just knew I couldn’t get two hundred words into this without mentioning Bloc+. Found in the centre of the city, Bloc+ has some bargain buys (including their £5 steaks), a mecca for hungry students looking to get at least one decent meal in the week.
Minding your health is critical in the first few months of university. Sadly, even though shots of Apple Sourz have the word apple in them, they do not count as one of your five a day. I would do things in moderation during Freshers' Week. It can be exhausting, so don’t feel the need to fit everything into one week, as you have plenty of years ahead of you to explore and experience the wonderful city that is Glasgow. All the bars along Ashton Lane will still be there when your third year comes around, perfect for watching the new first years downing Jägerbombs and staggering along the cobbled street. And yes, you will get freshers’ flu.
Glasgow University has a massive campus and is currently modernising and expanding its presence across the West End. Comfortable shoes are a must; even a skateboard or electric scooter might come in handy when hurtling between buildings before your next lecture begins. You’ll never be stuck for places to hang out between classes. I try not to get too distracted by the selection of cafes in the area, but resistance is futile. In fact, I really need help as my habit has got out of hand and I’ve started to keep a record of each one I visit. I hope to publish a bestseller when I leave university and donate all my coffee points and free beverages to good causes.
I have learnt that having a good support network of friends is vital while studying at university. In regard to your well-being, especially in these demanding times, it is important to take your mental health seriously. It is essential to talk with your friends. Make sure you get out to socialise and don’t be afraid of trying out something new through one of the great societies or clubs on offer.
In regard to classes, I advise you to show up, make an effort, and revisit the material as you go along. Do your best to pay attention during lectures, no matter how bored or tired you may be. Pro tip: make notes you can read, especially if you have handwriting like mine.
My first year has flown by, excluding those times spent on the 36-minutes-past-five to Blantyre. I’ve realised the pace of life you want is not dictated by others; ultimately it is down to you. First year can be challenging and at times you may feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and worn out but don’t worry, this is normal. I personally have taken up yoga and pilates to keep fit and stay mindful (yoga with Adrienne is the go-to - if you know, you know).
So embrace your first year; it might be a bit different this semester, but you have plenty of time to make up for what you might lose in the first few months. Remember, you are at a great university and on the road to a bright, successful future. Welcome change and remind yourself, even in the middle of the winter with your head spinning and garlic-muncher breathing all over you, that you have made it; this is it. Don’t let yourself miss out on all the opportunities on offer - and try as hard as you can to avoid missing the train.
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