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11 Sep 2019
Starting university can be a scary time and, looking back, there may be some things you'd have done differently if only you'd had the benefit
of experience. We asked our Student Ambassador, Olivia Mak, who's currently researching her PhD, what advice she'd give to her Fresher self.
Here's what she had to say:
You’ve made it. All that hard work over the last four years and you’re finally here. At university. In the room you’ll be calling home this year, surrounded by all the things your family helped to unpack. But now your family has gone and you’re all alone. Terrified. Excited. Unexpectedly tearful. Wondering what life has in store for you over the next 3 years.
It’s okay to feel overwhelmed or down and to have a cry if need be. Know that someone somewhere at the same university (and many others) will be feeling exactly the same. The first few weeks especially are information overload. You’re dealing with a lot, living independently for the first time, having to navigate new surroundings (and sometimes a new city), learning how to manage your time, complete work to deadlines and eat healthily while also finding the time to keep fit and maintain something resembling a social life. Don’t be scared to reach out for support - that’s what the counselling service is there for. Look after yourself. You will be stressed at some point (even many points) but realise that‘s normal and that no-one survives uni without going through some emotional turbulence, so buck up and brace yourself for the ride. In tough times, give yourself what you need in that moment.
You’re a perfectionist and that can be a good thing sometimes but don’t be disheartened if an assignment mark you receive falls way below your high standards. Detach yourself from it emotionally and look at the feedback objectively to improve next time. You are not your work. You are so much more than what it’ll say on your degree certificate: a culmination of talents, dreams and hopes that make you unique. Trust in yourself and your ability to deliver when it matters the most. Remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Above all, embrace it. Your uni experience is what you make it and you can shape it entirely how you want but enjoy the journey. You’ll probably never have an opportunity like this again, to meet people from all over the world, from different walks of life, to appreciate the joy of learning…...and you’ll never get to enjoy three months off in the summer ever again (unless you decide to become a teacher, *ahem*). It’s not going to be easy but then again, nothing worth achieving in life ever was, right? This is university after all, a microcosm of the world beyond it. You’re going to change for the better, emerging a brilliant, resilient graduate who is a bit surer of the world and their place within it.
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