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Student Stories

Student Stories

Blogs and vlogs from students of the University of Edinburgh

Things I wish I knew before starting at the University of Edinburgh…

An aerial view looking down on Bristo Square and the grand McEwan Hall
Reading Time: 3 minutes

…by Georgia / from York / studying Human Geography / 5th year

Starting university, be that for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree is a big change, and one that brings both excitement and curiosity, but also apprehension. I still very vividly remember the day I was dropped off at my first year university halls by my parents, and the slight gut wrenching feeling I had when they drove away. What now, I thought? I’m now beginning my fifth year as a University of Edinburgh student, and I have certainly learnt and experienced a lot in the last five years. Here are some things I wish I knew when I started, about university life and living in Edinburgh.

1.   Edinburgh makes a great place for friends and family to visit.

When I arrived at university, I hadn’t visited Edinburgh much so knew very little about the city. However, its abundant café’s, beautiful walks and green spaces, its walkability and vibrant day and night scene make it a great place to visit. Leaving home and friends can feel difficult, but I found Edinburgh to be a fantastic city to invite my friends too, and having people to stay gives you the chance to get to know the city better too…

2.   Welcome week is going to feel weird.

You might have heard that you meet your best friends during freshers week. And some people do.. but not everyone. You might also be lucky and get along very well from the get-go with your flatmates, but again that is no guarantee. Welcome week is a huge mix of excitement, nerves, home sickness and uncertainty, and rest assured it is completely normal to feel slightly lost, overwhelmed, and unsure of how to fill your day. I definitely felt like this. The good news is there is so much happening, and so many other people who will feel just the same as you. Make sure to head to the Sports Fair, the Activities Fair and try out a new society or activity to meet new people.

3.   Reaching out for help with your studies is not a sign of weakness.

University work comes with a newfound independence, and unlike school, its often down to you to understand the content, stay on top of readings and hand assessments in on time. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I got a lot more comfortable with reaching out to peers on the course, emailing lecturers and course organisers to ask about lecture content, clarify assessment criteria or even get them to read over an essay plan or title. They are there to help and it can make you feel a lot better about the work you are doing.

4.   Umbrellas are a NO in Edinburgh.

This sounds silly, but don’t bother bringing an umbrella if you are starting your studies in Edinburgh. The city is notoriously windy, and rain usually comes with heavy gusts that will leave you clinging onto an umbrella for dear life. I’d recommend thick thermal and a coat with a hood instead…

5.   Putting yourself first is productive.

Living as a student is a very interesting and exciting time of your life. But in all honesty, it’s also exhausting. It is easy to find yourself burning out, be that your social battery or becoming particularly tired when bogged down with assessments or exam preparation. I’ve found it very useful putting time aside either just to do something on my own, like a short walk, or leaving space in the day to just relax. It is easy to fall into a routine of being too busy, and this can have negative implications for your mental and physical wellbeing. Forget the FOMO and take the night off, you will thank yourself for it.

6.   Be excited about the thought that things might work out differently.

When I got to university, I had no idea what my first year would look like, let alone the next three and my life after an undergraduate degree. There are so many interesting opportunities that can come your way at university, and my advice would be say yes, and surprise yourself. I’ve been part of running societies in activities I’d never heard of before university, and now I am doing a postgrad degree and never expected to be doing so. Cherish your life as a student and be excited about the enormity of the possible.

Want to find out more?

Chat with Georgia

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