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Life after Freshers’ Fortnight: surviving your first term at university

​​​​​​​​​​​​Are you living your best Freshers life? Or have you found everything a bit overwhelming at times? Maybe you’re loving your new flatmates, but you’re a little homesick, or finances are starting to stress you out? 

With Freshers’ Fortnight done and dusted, and the first week of lectures already under your belt, this is when the initial excitement can start to wear off and the pressure to adapt quickly to your new life begins to mount.

Living away from home for the first time and studying independently is a big adjustment, but a few simple tactics can help you to cope with the changes you’re facing. We asked some of our students to share their experiences of starting uni, and the things they tried which helped them to smash their time at the University of Gloucestershire!

Get to know people

Definitely invest in a doorstop so you can prop open the heavy doors in halls and get to know your flat mates! Try and chat to as many people as possible – not just those in your flat!

Freya, Primary Education student

After the social whirl of Freshers’ Fortnight, the start of term can feel like a bit of an anti-climax but there are still plenty of ways to meet people. If you live in shared accommodation, keeping your door propped open is a great way to stay connected to your flatmates.

Not feeling up for another night out? Why not suggest watching a movie or eating dinner together? Cooking with your flatmates is a great way to socialise AND save money on shopping! (If you want more tips on how to stay on top of your finances, check out our recent article on sticking to a student budget.)

Keep an open-mind and start conversations with people outside the bubble of your flat or your course as well. Everyone’s in the same boat, and you never know who might end up becoming one of your besties!

If you’re ever 50/50 about going somewhere or doing something with friends, try and convince yourself to go. There’s nothing worse than regretting not joining in when the opportunity was right there!

Luc, TV Production student

Try new things

“Throw yourself into activities you never thought about before, such as signing up for sports clubs that you’ve never tried. I joined societies in my first year, namely the History Society. I remember feeling really nervous, so joining a society that was a lot of fun really helped me to settle into my new life here.”
– Rhiannon, History 

If you’re starting to feel homesick, one of the best things you can do is keep busy. Joining a sports club or society is a great distraction, as well as a sure-fire way to meet new people. If you didn’t sign up at the Freshers’ Fayre, it’s not too late! You can join at any time throughout the year.

Need inspiration? Visit the SU website for a full list of teams and societies or follow the #FreshersFirst hashtag on any of our social media channels to see the kind of things that our students tried for the first time when they started uni.

Want to indulge your inner nerd? No interest is too niche! You’ll find everything on our list of societies, from the Disney, Go Karting and KPop societies, to War Hammer, Ameteur Botanics, Ethical Hacking, Nintendo and the Green Team!

Stay healthy

“Buy lots and lots of fruit to snack on during freshers – it’s a really good way to stay healthy between busy events. Helped me to avoid Freshers’ Flu too!”
– Natalie, Primary Education 

Vitamin C is your friend in the first few weeks of uni! Freshers’ flu can sneak up on you, and prevention is definitely better than cure. Fresh fruit is cheap, healthy and a good way to keep your immune system ticking over.

There are water fountains available at every campus, so you can stay hydrated as you munch on your five-a-day. Your skin, health and energy levels will thank you!

Make sure you’ve registered with a local GP and dentist too; you never know when you might need it, and it’s quick and easy to register.

If you’re studying in Cheltenham, you should register with the Medical Centre at Park. The Medical Centre is just for university students and is the quickest place to get an appointment if you need to see a doctor or nurse. If you’re studying in Gloucester, you should register with the Alney Practice, which is just around the corner from Oxstalls.

If you haven’t had your Menginigits ACWY vaccine yet you can book this through your local surgery. Meningitis symptoms can be very similar to the symptoms of flu or a hangover, so look after yourselves and your friends by learning to recognise the signs, which can include fever, muscle pain and vomiting. The Meningitis Now website has more info​ on what to do if you suspect someone might need urgent medical help.

“Freshers’ Flu is very real and not fun. Eat some fruit and veg or drink some orange juice and you’ll be fine. Also drink water to avoid feeling groggy after a ‘busy night of revising’”
– Aaron, Music Business 

Exercise and explore

“Try and get some exercise or fresh air especially after being inside for most of the day or after partying. Take time to explore the places around you.”
– Erin, Creative Music Technology 

If you haven’t already noticed, Gloucestershire is gorgeous! Getting out and about is proven to be good for our wellbeing and stress levels. Luckily, there are no shortage of parks and walking routes in Cheltenham and Gloucester. Why not climb to the top of Cleeve Hill in Cheltenham or Robinswood Park in Gloucester for top views, explore the historic Gloucester Docks or take a stroll around the lake in Pittville Park if you need to blow the cobwebs away?

Check out the #YourBestGlos hashtag on Instagram for more student suggestions on the best locations in Gloucestershire to visit, as well as some hidden gems, or why not try out one of these?

Make time for yourself

“Make sure you give yourself time after Freshers’ Fortnight to relax! You will need that downtime in order to recover from the partying and having fun”
– Asha, Creative Writing

There’s no getting away from it, starting university is an intense time. What with making friends, getting to grips with your course and signing up for new experiences, life can feel pretty exhausting. Everyone deals with student life differently; introverts often need to take t​​hemselves off for a few hours alone to recharge, whereas extroverts might want to spend as much time as possible with others.

Ultimately, there’s no ‘right way’ to be a Fresher. Listen to what your body (and your mind!) needs, make sure you carve out a bit of you-time amongst all of the frantic socialising, and have a few early (or Netflix?!) nights here and there.

Ask for help

No matter what’s on your mind, if you feel like you’re struggling there are always places at university where you can turn for advice or a listening ear.

The HelpZones are open on every campus, with advisors who can point you in the right direction for financial, academic and emotional support. The student achievement team also offers a wide range of services​ to enhance your study skills, provide you with tailored language support and help you to navigate assessments and feedback, through workshops, one-to-one appointments and online resources.

You don’t need to follow one (or any!) faith to pop into our campus chaplaincies for a free cup of tea or coffee, a chat with one of our chaplaincy team or just to make use of the tranquil surroundings. They host ‘cake and chat’ evenings, mindfulness and meditation sessions, and regular crafting events. Have a look at the official Chaplaincy blog for the full programme. You can also email the menta​l​ ​​health and wellbeing advisers​​​ for confidential support.

If in doubt, share how you’re feeling with your friends and flatmates; chances are, you won’t be the only one. Don’t forget to ask your friends and coursemates how they are too; they’ll be grateful that you cared enough to ask!

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