Whether you are starting uni for the first time or returning after a break that seemed to fly by, going back to class can be a stressful time.
In between scheduling classes, potentially moving into a new house and enjoying the social aspect of freshers, the first few weeks are chalked full of activity.
During the start of the semester, where the weather tends to lean towards that late-September sun and the days start to shorten, often the last thing on a students mind is relaxation. However, the early weeks of a new year are the perfect time to focus on you, your goals for the upcoming year, organising nights out with newfound friends and knowing roughly what this upcoming semester is going to look like for you.
There is no doubt that uni can be stressful, and I’ve found that one way to avoid being swept up in the deadlines and overall obligations that can have a negative impact on your mental health, is to develop a plan before the rush takes over. Although it might be tempting to take advantage of the fun and excitement of freshers week, knowing what the semester holds and creating a plan to avoid overburdening yourself is crucial to a good year. This can be as simple as putting all your deadlines on a calendar, and when you need to start working on essays and classwork and to get it done on time, and done well. It may sound boring, but having a plan is fundamental to enjoying your semester with minimal stress. After all, the less stressed you are the better time you will have enjoying the arguably more exciting parts of uni. So, get your registration and classes sorted, your deadlines mapped out and move all your things into your temporary home, and get out and enjoy freshers!
Alongside classes, another source of stress and anxiety for students is money. Specifically, not to blow your entire loan during the first week and consequently live off Pot Noodles and Tesco Value pasta the rest of the semester. Although it may be tempting to say yes to every offer for drinks or to eat out as much as possible to avoid cooking, your year will go much more smoothly with a budget. Figure out how much of your loan needs to cover essentials, like rent and food, and how much can go towards non-essentials like buying your friends a round or eating out.
One thing I’ve found helpful is withdrawing cash for the week and sticking to that. It’s easy to only use your card, but without seeing the physical money leaving your account it can be difficult to realise how much you are spending. In that same vein, a MONZO card functions in much the same way. It’s like a bank card, but you transfer money from your bank account and only allow yourself a set amount per week.
Plus, there are no withdrawal or usage fees abroad, unlike most bank cards. Having a budget and making sure your money lasts keeps you comfortable for the whole semester, not just the first week, as well as ensuring you have enough to heat your likely frigid student house once winter hits.
Uni can be one of the most exciting times of your life. The freedom to make your own choices and enjoy adult life is both liberating and nerve-wracking at times. Having a clear plan for some of the more ‘adult’ parts of uni life, like classwork and money, makes for a smoother year that keeps both your overall well being and your future in mind.
Enjoy the first weeks, where there are so many new people to meet, activities to take part in and (hopefully) good weather to savour!
The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.
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