When I first moved to Reading, having never travelled to far overseas to study before, the first thing that shocked me was the weather. Now, having spent a second year in the United Kingdom, it has been a bit easier for me to recalibrate and adapt. Here are some tips on making university life a bit more bearable.
Never underestimate what exercise and eating right can do for you. In my experience, whenever I felt mentally burnt-out or needed a break from researching for my assignments, I would go for a run around my university campus to clear my head and get me pumped to continue my reading. If your campus is small or not as runner-friendly (living in London can be sometimes), looks up gyms near you or join your university’s sports clubs. University sports clubs are the best in my opinion, as you can meet more of your peers and they may hold socials quite often, where you have the opportunity of getting to know your teammates better.
If there are no university clubs to your liking you always have other options. There are loads of great programmes you can find online, whether you want to improve your stamina, strength or for aesthetics. I definitely advise checking out Reddit’s fitness and bodyweight fitness threads and bodybuilding.com for workouts suited to any level. You can use Blogilates to work out to in your own room, or sports clubs where you pay a fee and they match you up with a team in the sport of your choice an example being Go Mammoth.
I know its hard to save and eat well at the same time, but here is what I consider the £1 meal bible by Jack Monroe if you have not come across it already - cookingonabootstrap.com. She is famous for creating £1 (or under!) recipes since the author herself has had to live on an extremely tight budget. Jack has been blogging her recipes for a while now, and even caters to vegans. Have a look at her list of creations, and if you can afford to splurge a little more on food, try mix-and-matching them. Then you can keep that money for your summer trip.
Trying new things
It is pleasantly surprising how getting out of your comfort zone can get you places you never expected. There is so much potential in the unknown. You may meet a future best friend, work colleague, or get a foot in the door in the industry you’ve set your sights on.
In Reading, as a third year law student I was more worried about my exams than anything else, because the third year average counted for around 65%- 70% of my overall grade. I became a recluse, stayed in my room and did not really go out. I barely made time to hang around in the common room with my flatmates. Thankfully my law school was very pro-active and secured multiple opportunities for its students to apply for internships and competitions. The only way for me to get out of that rut was to brace myself and just do it. I chose to join a negotiation competition. I teamed up with another student and we made it to the finals in the Norton Rose Fulbright negotiation competition. We didn’t win, but the experience and discovering that I had the potential to progress reasonably well in something I had never done before emboldened me.
If your university has an “experience and development” award or something similar, that is one of the best ways in which you can set a target for yourself to try new things and be incentivised to pursue it, since you have to complete certain activities within a time limit in order to receive the award. These activities usually consist of volunteering work on and off campus, and can take into account your work experience, (ie. if you have secured an internship for reading week, this may count to your award hours).
These activities are also great for meeting other international and local students, and since there is usually a mix of new and experienced volunteers who are very keen to teach each other, rest assured your nerves will disappear within a few minutes.
Early exposure to working in groups and socials in university is going to help you feel more at ease when you meet people at talks or industry-related gatherings. At the very least, you will have something to break the ice with.
These are my sure fire ways of getting over the initial anxiety we tend to feel when entering university or starting the new term. I hope it helps you guys.
Rachel A., Law student.
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