A letter to first years

Dear First Year...

multiple writers
27th September 2021
Image: Pixabay @Devanath

Dear First years

Whatever you’re worrying about is going to fix itself. If you're worried about making friends, keeping up with work or any of the multiple things that made my anxiety skyrocket before starting university. None of it is worth stressing yourself out over. Some of the things I was most worried about when I started are the things I treasure most about it now. 

My biggest piece of advice would be to get to know your surroundings but don’t feel like you have to do everything all at once. I know being cooped up in the pandemic has made us all eager to be busy all the time and that's great but being a Fresher is scary enough without pressuring yourself to be constantly social and enjoying yourself. So by all means go out, get to know your flatmates, get involved in societies etc. But it's really not a big deal if you’re not doing stuff at all times. You're going to be in Newcastle for at least three years, you have time to take breaks. On the flip side don’t lock yourself away, I know when you’re homesick this is tempting but balance between being social and having time for yourself is absolutely crucial.

When it comes to actual work for the first few weeks you truly don’t have to worry for the first few weeks. Your lecturers and tutors are well aware that you’re settling in and I promise any academic stress you put on yourself is absolutely unnecessary. Not to sound like a broken record but give yourself time to settle in! Newcastle is an incredibly lovely city and even if it takes time to get used to being here, it will happen!

Love from,

Someone in their last year who feels old...

Faye Navesey

You’re frowning at yourself in the mirror of the lift in your student accommodation, furiously dabbing your forehead because you sweat up a storm when you’re nervous and don’t want to be known as ‘Sweaty Girl™’ by your flatmates. Or, at least, that was my first fresher experience. Whether you’re painfully self conscious like I was, stride in with the conviction that everyone is going to love you or are just diving head-first into the unknown, whatever you’re feeling is okay.

The independence and responsibility of uni life can feel like a heavy weight to bear at first - especially if you’re like me and often either accidentally binge an entire Netflix series or end up in Soho instead of being productive. But lecturers aren’t as scary as they seem - one of mine literally emailed me telling me to have “a nice cup of hot chocolate and watch a silly rom com” when I had a bit of a meltdown once - and you’ll find that one person who finds the time to do all the further reading and knows everything is a minority that you don’t have to compare yourself to. Additionally, when I first moved into halls, I had 0 cooking experience and didn’t know how to switch a washing machine on. Nowadays, I’m quite the domestic goddess if I do say so myself (I made king prawn linguine last night!), and if I can do it, you can too. 

The world outside your flat and your course is just as important. Newcastle is such a vibrant city; whether you’re into music, nightlife, art, history, nature, there’s a place for you - so take some time to go out there and find it! The uni is such a diverse community with so much going on, from sport, theatre, volunteering, and of course student media *cough cough*, so there’s every opportunity for you to find your crowd here. As someone who always had a really hard time fitting in at school, uni turned out to be exactly what I’d been waiting for, and is the best thing I ever did. I finally found my people - sweaty forehead and all. I have every faith that you will too.

Leanna Thomson

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