What I wish I knew before university: Carrot Team’s best advice

What I wish I knew before university: Carrot Team’s best advice

The Carrot Editorial Team share their best advice (some rather unconventional) for freshers that will help you prepare for university.

Eeek! We are so proud at the Carrot Team to be welcoming so many students to City, University of London and congratulations to all students who will be starting their university journey in September. Now it’s time to focus and get your notepad and pen ready, as over at Carrot we share our best advice that we wish we knew before we started university.

Before you read our helpful tips, remember not to compare your university experience to others’, and don’t anticipate every day to be perfect; instead, accept each day as it comes; it’s a new chapter in your life – embrace it!

“Don’t feel embarrassed if you are feeling homesick” – Mansi Vithlani, Editor-in-Chief

For many people, university is a completely different lifestyle than they are used to, especially if they are going to a big city. It’s natural to feel homesick at times, regardless of how happy you are to embark on your university journey. I used to get homesick a lot in first year and was made to feel ashamed or embarrassed about it. My best advice is that you should allow yourself to feel homesick for a while. Feeling homesick isn’t a flaw, and it’s not anything to be ashamed of. Missing home is a common occurrence among students, and seeing it as a source of guilt will only exacerbate the situation. Remember to pack some home comforts with you, keep in touch with home as often as you can, familiarise yourself with your new surroundings and be open with your friends – remember so many are often in the same position.

“Do not bring your whole wardrobe!” – Anna Fox, Managing Editor

I waved goodbye to my family home wedged into our VW golf, caved in by multiple suitcases, pillows, blankets and a washing airer. I packed for every occasion possible, leaving my wardrobe at home barren, minus a wetsuit and my prom dress. I can now confirm that I sincerely regret packing an excessive number of outfits and shoes, as by Sunday I would face a mountain of washing and a long wait at the machines. Remember, just pack the essentials! You will not need six hoodies and seven pairs of trainers, trust me. Share with your friends, create a swap, and share scheme, it will not only benefit you but the environment too!

MORE: How to prepare for on-campus learning after a year online

“Step out of your comfort zone” – Claudia Scuturici, PR and Communications Director

As scary as it seems, get out of your comfort zone. Starting university is a challenge itself, but you have to try thing you normally wouldn’t. Not only will you meet some of the best people on the way, but you might also discover new passions. Your university years are the time for self-discovery and growth, make then count and don’t let fear bring you down!

“Ditch the handbag”- Aylin Aliev, City News Editor

To those of you who are itching for a start and are thinking of bits and pieces you may need, this is for you. My advice is to ditch the handbag! In my first year I was ready to get rid of my beloved Vans backpack that carried me throughout my secondary school/sixth form life and bought a rather large handbag. I used it for about 2 weeks to realise that it was incredibly impractical. Despite its size and roominess, my whole body started to ache carrying that thing. That’s when I realised that I was not ready to get rid of my backpack and went crawling back to it. Your books, bottle, pens and laptop will weigh you down – take my advice and keep your backpack, your back will love you.

“It can take time to find your people” – Maeve Schaffer, Politics & Current Affairs Editor

I wish I’d known that it wasn’t the end of the world if I didn’t get on with my assigned housemates. University is an opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, and the odds of you clicking with your first-year flatmates are very slim. I found that the people I met through societies, my course and mutual friends were the ones I got on with best and subsequently lived with for the rest of my time at uni. There is no rush to find ‘your people’.

“Have a tidy space” – Kezia Reynolds, Arts & Culture Editor

This may seem the simplest of advice but it really is important. Having a clean living space seriously benefited my mental health during term time. There is nothing worse than coming home to a messy flat when you have four deadlines and the worst hangover ever. It can feel incredibly overwhelming and when you’re stressed, last nights bottles and takeaway packets are the last thing you want to deal with. A tidy space equals a tidy mind. This is something I wish I had remembered during my first two years!

“Bring a doorstop” – Becky Gelder, Head of Social Media

Although it sounds really silly, my advice to everyone starting university this year moving into shared accommodation would be to bring a doorstop! You can use it either for your bedroom or the kitchen, and it just helps break the ice and make you seem more approachable to your new flatmates!

“Join students clubs and societies” – Alessandra, Lellamo, Social Media Manager

Joining a society is a great way to meet new people and learn more about university life. Also getting involved in activities is a great way to make your uni campus feel like home. Whether it’s a sports team, a radio or a photography society, make the most of Freshers’ week and use it to find out more about what you like, or things you never had the chance to do but that you always wanted to try! And remember that this is a once in a lifetime experience, so enjoy it and have fun!

MORE: What Will Campus Life Be Like Post-COVID?

“Reach out to Neurodiversity support” – Nicolas Ng, Executive Head of Design

Something that bowled me over in my first year was the support for students with learning differences. If you have anything that might be in this category, make sure to reach out to City’s Neurodiversity support. The people there are supportive and easy to communicate with. I had procrastinated about booking my appointment, thinking that it would be a waste of time and that they couldn’t do much. That is not the case at all and the help they gave me was enough to feel that I would be on a level playing field with my course mates. 

“Don’t lose yourself” – Yoga Barrathwaj, Head of Design

University is a time to meet new people and make friends. It’s a time to get out of your comfort zone and take risks. Often, we find ourselves with people to who we no longer relate. We continue to be with them even when it doesn’t make us feel good. There could be many reasons for this but the most common one is being alone. You were able to take the big risk of getting to know someone new once, you can do it again. Being uncomfortable/unsafe with someone and not being able to be your best self is not worth it. Break it off, move away and be yourself. The right ones will always love you for who you are.

“Prioritise yourself” – Eleana Ntagia, Social Media Manager

Don’t be afraid to meet new people and make friends! Remember everyone is on the same boat as you. Be bold and speak to everyone. Joining student clubs and society’s can help. Starting a new journey away from your friends and family can be overwhelming so remember it’s okay to take a break. Last but not least, eat healthy and if you don’t know how to cook learn (LOL!), it is such a fun experience learning with your friends… best thing I ever did. Nothing like cooking with your friends and listening to music sipping to a glass of wine!

“Redefine the university experience to suit your needs” – Inayah Shah, Opinions Editor

It can be so easy to be sold this ideal experience and idea of university by people around you. I was told uni was all about the night life, going out, parties and having fun. While I had some glimmer of that – nobody could have predicted finishing my first year way earlier than expected because of a global pandemic. My advice to first years, is try not to beat yourself up if your university experience doesn’t match up to the one that has been sold to you. University is unique to everyone, and I found myself heartbroken when I realised I wouldn’t have the same experience everyone boasts about. Be kind to yourself and redefine the experience to suit your needs, rather than everyone else’s. Being kind and open minded is key to adjusting to this new university experience. These past two years have proven that anything can happen, so take everyday as it comes so savour the highs and learn from the lows.

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