As a student moving away from home for the first time, I had lots of worries and unanswered questions. Things like what university would be like, how I would make friends and what support would be available to me when I started.
Moving to Preston to study at UCLan, I felt really welcomed by the friendly atmosphere and the many opportunities to make new friends. Read my blog to find out the things I wish I knew before starting university.
1. Making friends isn't that hard
Whether you are a commuter student or live in accommodation, there are lots of different opportunities to make friends when you come to UCLan. Welcome Week has something for everyone! There are activities during the day at the Students’ Union where you can meet people from across the campus. There are also evening events like bingo, karaoke, and a silent disco where you can have a laugh with flatmates and make new friends. Remember – you don’t have to say yes to everything. The friends that you make in the first week might not be the friends you keep throughout your whole degree, so don't put too much pressure on yourself.
2. Lots of new opportunities
During Welcome Week, there will be a societies and sports fair, where you can find out about the different activities that you can take part in during your spare time. From cheerleading to rugby union; from photography to the student radio. There are so many opportunities to get involved with student life, learn a new skill and make new friends. Not sure what you want to do? Most societies and sports clubs hold taster sessions so you can try the club before you sign up. You can also volunteer, either as part of the One-Off Wednesday scheme or as part of a campaign, working with the group on a regular basis. Through trying a new society, I met one of my best friends that I may never have crossed paths with if I hadn’t put myself out there and tried something new.
3. You don’t need to drink to have fun
It is really important to remember that drinking alcohol is not the only way to enjoy yourself at university. If you want to experience Preston’s nightlife, you can rule the dancefloor without a drink in your hand or indulge in a mocktail on a not-so-boozy brunch with your friends. There is a societal consensus that all university students do is go out drinking every night, but the drinking culture is not as common as people think. Students who do drink are very accepting of those who choose not to. Remember that, if you do not want to drink, you shouldn’t be pressured to do so – it's your choice!
4. Maintain a healthy balance
Having a healthy balance of studying and socialising is the best way to get the most out of your university life. When the university workload hits, it is easy to get overwhelmed, so remembering to take care of yourself is really important. Creating a study timetable can help you manage your workload if you remain disciplined. You can also plan points during the week where you either meet your friends, spend time exploring Preston or watch a new film. This will ensure that you are able to stay motivated and don’t burn out. The library is open 24/7 during term time so you can study when you are most productive and recuperate at your lower points. Remember – getting enough sleep is essential along with having a healthy diet, regular exercise and time for self-care, however you practice this.
5. Support is available for you
Moving away from home for the first time can be scary and homesickness is common amongst students. The welfare team are on hand to help. Support is available through counselling or signposting to the best services for you. University is a big step for everyone, so it is important to remember that you are not alone. Speaking to your friends about how you are feeling can help to lift a weight off your shoulders, but there is always someone to listen to you within the university too. There is also support for those with disabilities, for people that are struggling financially or for people that would like to improve their academic skills. Inclusive Support are here to make sure that the university can support you and your needs as much as possible during your studies. The Cost of Living hub is available to help you manage your money and explain if you are eligible for bursaries or scholarships. Study Support can provide assignment feedback, WISER workshops, one-to-one sessions, group sessions, dedicated support hubs for each school and online digital skills courses. Whatever you need, UCLan will support you in any way that they can!
Starting university is such an exciting experience and, hopefully, some of your questions have been answered. UCLan is here to support you throughout your journey and new opportunities are just waiting for you to arrive. So, embrace the adventure with an open heart and a positive mindset – you're about to embark on an amazing chapter of your life!