So, I had made it to my dream university and onto my dream course. I was delighted, over the moon. Then I checked my first-year timetable and saw that I only had 12 hours in uni per week. Just what would I do with all that extra time, in a new city?
Contact hours is a common worry for new students. Getting to grips with independent study is one thing, but the free time can be a big surprise too. So what do you do with the 156 hours a week that you’re not in lectures?
Here’s what I did.
I attended lots of events during freshers’ week, to make new friends. I wasn’t nervous about speaking to people because I knew everyone was in the same boat. I made some great friends and I really enjoyed hanging out with them before the serious work kicked in. We would go bowling, go for food and drinks, go to the beach, go for walks in the park. You will spend at least three years in your new city, so try your best to make friends and explore it.
Freshers’ fair is the highlight of any freshers’ week and mine was no different. I bagged enough free pens to last my whole course, and learned about all the different societies and sports clubs at my university. Don’t worry if you’re not sporty, there’s a club for every interest, from films and Harry Potter to politics and feminism - the lists are almost endless.
I joined the radio society, and now I host my own weekly true crime show. It gives me something to do - researching, recording, and editing - and I love doing it. I’ve gained vital skills, which I can use in my career, and made new friends at the society’s events and get-togethers. It’s a great way to de-stress from the pressure of university work.
Having a part-time job would be another fantastic use of your time, and a little bit of extra cash is always helpful. It also looks great on your CV. Just be aware that you will get busier in the lead-up to deadlines and exams, so be sure that you can juggle uni work and your job.
Unfortunately, I was unable to find a job whilst at university and couldn't transfer from my job at home. So I decided to make the most of my free time and earn some volunteering hours, which also looks impressive on your CV.
I currently volunteer as a student writer with Unite Students, which should help me in my future career and is also very enjoyable. But there are volunteering opportunities to fit any career or interest. Youth Clubs, care homes, and charity shops would be especially grateful for your help and you’ll feel great helping others too. Win-win!
In first year, you are usually just learning the basic building blocks of your chosen topic, so contact time is fairly minimal. But you will never have this much free time ever again, so congratulate yourself on making it to university, enjoy first year, and make the best of it!