Settling Into University Life

Freshers' Festival is over and lectures have started, so now what? VP Welfare & Diversity Lucy Simpson guides you through settling into university life.

Freshers’ Festival is officially over, you’re probably packed with inductions for your modules, and a little bit of home sickness is kicking in. Let’s be honest, it can seem a bit daunting.

University is a big step for most of us. I personally remember being terrified the day I arrived; forcing myself to speak to my neighbours in Founder’s was really tough. But I got through it and ended up having a wonderful time in the following three years.

So, what are the next steps?

Even though Freshers’ Festival has been a blast, at the end of the day you’re here for a reason, and that is to get your degree and kick-start your career.

It’s important that you feel ready to give it your all and hopefully I can give you a helping hand along the way with advice and signposting to services and people who can help.

Lectures begin properly this week and now is a good time to bring back all those revision skills notes that you tediously made at school. Whether you’re a returner or a fresher, it’s worth remembering that the earlier you start with revision notes and getting on with work, the easier it will be for you later.

For those who find studying a little more difficult, please be aware that you can contact the College’s Disability and Dyslexia Services for assistance with mental health, dyslexia and any other learning difficulties or disabilities. Meanwhile, the College’s Wellbeing team can help you or a friend figure out how best to take care of yourself while at university. They can help with mental health, general wellbeing and even financial problems that you may face.

Don’t forget you can also contact our Advice Centre at the SU for help with any welfare, housing or academic issue throughout the year. This is a free, confidential service so there’s no need to worry about friends or parents finding out should you not want them to.

What can I do with my spare time?

Well, it’s not all about essays and exams (phew!) University is also a unique time to explore new opportunities, meet new people and try new things.

The SU has over 110 clubs and societies that you can join, so why not check out what’s on offer? If there is something that youre passionate about and we don’t have it, then just let us know what your idea is and we can help you start a new student group!

Settling into student life is tough for everyone, but maintaining a balanced and active lifestyle can alleviate stress and health difficulties that are commonly faced at university. Think about how you can live a healthy lifestyle by being active and eating well.

The gym at the Sports Centre offers a number of different memberships, and there are some really beautiful areas nearby for a stroll or run, like Virginia Water or Windsor. An active lifestyle does not have to mean going to the gym for an hour each day, you can go for a walk for half an hour every day, and that counts too.

As an added bonus, you could try out Borrow My Doggy and spend some quality time with some fluff monsters!

If you’re more into campaigning and activism, then you’re in luck, because we run tons of campaigns throughout the year that you can check out, support and get involved with! You can also have a look at the amazing things Royal Holloway Volunteering do.

What if I want to drive change?

This is a great way to make the best out of your university experience, and there are tons of opportunities for you to drive positive change. For example, you can run to become an academic rep and help improve the educational experience at Royal Holloway.

You can also guide the work of the Union or be the voice of underrepresented groups by applying to join a Service Development Group, running in elections for our Student Executives or Student Collectives, or simply by becoming a member of a Collective! You would be part of an amazing community of student leaders who are helping to make student lives better.

I need some money!

If you’re looking to work during your studies, remember that we have tons of job opportunities available. Make sure you check out our part-time jobs, and head down to the College’s Part-time Jobs Fair today. This way you can help pay for that extra coffee in the morning before lectures and gain valuable employability skills!

How do I look after myself?

One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. It’s not just good for rest, but it is shown to have a significant impact on mental health, physical health and your ability to recall information. We all enjoy a good night out from time to time and that is great. But in general we should aim for around eight hours of rest per night. You can find out more about why sleep is so important here.

Something that you could do on the side is use Headspace, a great meditation app which you can get for free with a student Spotify Premium subscription. Not only does it encourage mindful habits, but it also has some sleep podcasts and student-focused sessions.

The most important thing to note is that if times get tough, you are not alone. Your university experience is what you make of it, no two people will have the same experience, and it is up to you to determine what that is.

Good luck! And don’t be afraid to get in touch if you have any questions or ideas at all!

Lucy Simpson // Vice President Welfare & Diversity