First year students

How to balance your life at university during first term

Starting university is a very exciting time. Whether you are moving away from home to study, a local student or mature student, it doesn’t matter because either way we understand that this is a completely new experience for you. Even starting university abroad comes with a lot of anxiety.

There are a lot of expectations when you start your university journey – one of them being that your student life will be the best time of your life, that you will make lots of friends, but in reality, everyone experiences the first weeks of university differently.

Some students may decide to dive right in and visit an exhausting number of bars and social events, getting to know people. Others may decide to take some time to explore the university life.

That’s why we have prepared a handy guide to help all of you navigate through your first weeks at Uni.

Moving out – settling in

If you are moving to new place to study, there will be a lot of opportunities to meet new people when you first move in – there are a number of social events organised by student accommodation representatives and by NTSU throughout the year. Even by knocking onto your flatmate’s door can be a great start to meeting new people. It’s very natural to feel a bit shy and silly introducing yourself to someone you don’t know, but remember that everyone is in the same boat, and everyone is there to meet new people!

If you are an international student and feeling the language barrier, the best place for you to start off would be going to events for international students at NTU Global Lounge!

When feeling social pressures

Being at university where a lot of students are going out to drinking events, you may feel pressured to do the same. Especially when it comes to drinking alcohol. You may not be a big fan of it, or your religion and belief forbid you from drinking alcohol. Whatever your reason, remember that social life at university doesn’t have to revolve around drinking.

Consider something fun like watching Netflix with friends, going out to a gig, or cooking with your flatmates. Check these fresher tips for more ideas. At NTU there are also several different small and friendly events, societies, and sport clubs that you can join. There is something here for everyone!

Don’t be afraid to talk about mental health

We all have mental health, and we are all concerned about our mental wellbeing these days. Including how we feel emotionally, physically, psychologically, and socially. It is normal to experience difficulties with it, especially after taking such a big step in your life like going to university.

Poor mental health can stand in the way of ability to control emotions, relaxing, socialising and even completing the simplest daily activities. It can sometimes be challenging to recognise the signs of poor mental health, or mental illness, both for yourself and for others that we care about. Mental health is a very personal experience and sometimes it can be difficult to speak about the challenges that you might face during your studies.

Poor mental health can have a wide range of effects, and some can be more serious than others. You may find this article useful if you need help identifying them. The new student mental health hub from Mind and Student Space also offers a lot of information on how to manage student life and how to overcome mental health challenges at university and beyond. The latter is a great source if you want to find out how other students are responding to their challenges at university.

If at any point during your studies or university experience you may feel like you could use some support with your mental wellbeing, don’t be afraid to talk to NTU Wellbeing Services. They will offer you a ton of advice, wellbeing support and counselling to help you deal with any personal, emotional, or mental health concerns.

In fact, at NTU we also have Healthy NTU Blog which as this one, is ran by fellow students who are sharing own experiences and a ton of useful advice on all things mental health and wellbeing. Make sure you check them out!

It is never too early to set a budget

It might seem like a windfall when you receive your first student loan payment, but chances are you will need to budget to make it last the first term. As we discussed in our previous article, managing your day-to-day costs can be challenging. Student bank accounts are helpful for unexpected costs as many have interest-free overdrafts. Also, Nottingham Trent University is always there to support you if you are struggling.

Learn about NTU apps and tools and financial support for managing student money.

Keep track of your spending by setting a budget for every type of purchase that you make on regular basis and be open about your budget to your friends so that you can stay on top of it.

You may also be entitled to a bursary – check with the University once you arrive if you are eligible or follow the link above.

Try not to skip your lectures if you can..

It is unjustified to shock students after a week of carefree parties by starting introductory lectures at 9am on the second week, isn’t it? No matter what subject you’re studying, I can tell you from experience that the 9am lectures never get any easier. That said, try to find the right balance between social life and your university course. Make sure you don’t fall into bad habits – they are difficult to break. Start as you intend to continue, and you’ll be in good stead as you progress through the year.

During the first few weeks of University, you may find the amount of work a bit daunting, especially if you have just studied for your A Levels. That’s because lecturers are always trying to help you to adjust to the fast pace of university. Enjoy your slow weeks as much as you can!

It is important to attend your lectures so that you can get a feel for what the entire course is like. It is also possible that you will decide that it is not really for you after attending them.

A lot of people switch courses before or after the reading week (half-term). This is not always possible and depends on the type of course and curriculum. If you are considering switching course, you should definitely tell your tutor as soon as you can, but make sure you give yourself some time to think it over.

..and enjoy every second of it!

In your first year at Uni, you are more concerned about getting settled in and learning how to survive independently, than focusing on your degree. In your second and third years, the academic side of your university experience will begin to take over.

The first term and year of university is a time to get used to the university style of learning, make mistakes, and meet new people. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn about your new surroundings, making new friends and enjoy your time!

Let us know in the comments if you found this guide helpful.


If you are a second-year student and have any suggestions and advice for first-year students, we would love to hear from you!

If you want to blog for us please follow this link and send us a message!

Blog Administrator. Currently ran by co-author Emilia Denis. Emilia has studied Fashion Communication and Promotion at NTU between years 2017 and 2020.

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