Things I would tell my first year self

It’s easy to look at uni from the outside and see nothing but sunny days and cheap pints and social gatherings; all of these things happen, and a whole world of challenging and inspiring opportunities come into your life. Then there’s the flip side… uni can throw some serious curveballs your way, things that nobody seemed to mention when you were a kid, so here are things I would tell my first year self and some friendly advice to a first year looking not to lose the plot completely.


1. Keep your financial sh*t together!

You may have had small-time jobs and pocket money before, but when you suddenly get two grand from the government and have to make it last four months, you’re faced with a challenge most 40-year-olds struggle with. Research budgeting, think of it as a skill just like any other – you have to learn, practice and revise, but over time it will sink in and become the most valuable skill you have.

2. Don’t fall down the freedom rabbit hole

Moving out of home is by far the most fun thing to be able to do at this age, and uni is almost like a trial run to see how well you’ll actually do fending for yourself in the real world. At some point, everybody slips into the various pitfalls of independent living: take away food, uncleanliness, loneliness, even substance abuse can all take charge of your life when you haven’t got that supportive parental eye casting over you. It’s fine to slip up; you will do so to some extent, just make sure you’re okay and if things start looking bleak, reach out.

3. Forgive yourself!

It’s no wonder students are a bit barmy; uni is the best opportunity to behave disgracefully, lose it entirely and still be somewhat valued by the rest of society. As a young person going through your formative years into adulthood it’s going to be a rocky road full of mistakes, but forgive yourself – you’re human like the rest of us.

There’s a tonne of advice I want to give to first year me; I could write him a whole novel. The important thing is that everyone is in it together and none of us really have a clue of what to do. Our generation is faced with a bizarre-looking world, and we have to stick together to figure it out.

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