A fresh influx of excited faces will flood through university doors this month. It is a scary and exciting time but it is also a period of great expectation and it can be hard to prepare for such a massive change in your life's direction.
My brother will soon be attending Brighton university and I have been thinking a lot about the advice I want to give him. In many ways I wish someone had told this to me on my first day at university.
1. Get involved with societies. Not only will this teach you valuable life skills but you will make friends with like-minded people. It is amazing how many students turn down this opportunity in favour of afternoons spent in the pub. You will regret those hangovers. The experiences and relationships built through partaking in societies and clubs will stay with you long after you graduate.
2. Mistakes are more than just ok. They are necessary. Make them as many times as you need to and, as long as you are constantly learning, forgive yourself.
3. If you don't like someone it says as much about you as it does about them. Try not to be mean about people. There are always two sides of the story and in the long run, harboring anger towards another will damage you. University is the best time to break away from playground conventions.
4. Do not air your dirty laundry on social media. If you delete posts, they don't disappear. Use the grandma test for social media - if you wouldn't want your grandma to see it, likelihood is the rest of the world doesn't need to either.
5. Travel. At any time. To any place. Walk up the hill in your new found town. Travel to the end of the train line. This is a time to discover new things, so take every opportunity that presents itself. Time spent exploring will always be enriching.
6. Don't let anyone tell you what to believe. Like shoes, you are allowed to walk in whichever you choose. Take them off sometimes, switch them around and see which make the journey most comfortable for you.
7. Listen. In your lectures, in the pub. Listen to the experiences and wisdom of everyone you meet. You'll be amazed by how much this informs your understanding of life.
8. People will treat you the way that you allow them to. Don't let people walk all over you. There will always be those that will if they get the chance. This includes lecturers - don't be rude but do stand up for yourself, there are few more empowering feelings than being your own best friend.
9. Be kinder to your parents. They may seem annoying at times but this is a hard time for them too. People always underestimate the difficulty experienced by parents when their children leave home. Also, they're not a bank of infinite funds.
10. Live within your means. Debt accumulated at university is one of the largest regrets of graduates. It is not free money and will act as a weight in the future.
11. Keep moving. Physically. Emotionally. Philosophically. It's not time to slow down yet.
12. Never sacrifice yourself. Always ensure that when you're saying 'yes' to someone, you are not saying 'no' to yourself.
13. Love your body. It's yours and the only one you're ever likely to have. Take good care of it and don't abuse it with ugly words.
14. Practice the 80:20 rule. 80% of the time try and be healthy and 20% of the time do what you want. Be careful not to go overboard too often, you will risk your health and, very likely, your dignity.
15. You do not have to do a degree to be worth something. Try not to get caught up in the elitism that sometimes comes with being a student. You are an academic, that is your chosen path. Others may have chosen something different. They are no less intelligent or worthy of respect.
16. If you want to be something, do it. Many professions are also verbs - teacher, writer, performer, translator. You have to do it in order to be it.
17. Time goes by quickly but not that quickly. Embrace your time at university and make the most of the classes but don't worry about spending whole days in bed sometimes too. Time isn't wasted if you're enjoying what you're doing and you will miss these lazy days once you start your career.
18. University years are not the best of your life. University is a lot of fun but the real fun happens after - when you have more money, maturity and confidence. It would be truly sad if three short years in your youth constituted the peak of your life. Having said that, they are some of the most fun and carefree - embrace them whole heartedly.
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