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Student Stories

Student Stories

Blogs and vlogs from students of the University of Edinburgh

What I wish I knew in 1st year – From a 4th year…

Image of the Vet School in the snow.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

…by Sophie / from Edinburgh / studying Veterinary Medicine and Surgery (BVM&S) / 4th year

As I reach the end of my 4th year here at Edinburgh Uni, there’s a lot that I’ve learnt from my time here, and not just academically! To save you taking 4 years to learn the things that I have, here’s what I wish someone had told me before I started 1st year.

Welcome Week and Making Friends

Really can’t stress enough – put yourself out there and go to any event that interests you! The most important thing is meeting people. Doesn’t matter if you decide the society you’re trying isn’t for you, you’ve just met 20 new people – big win. And if the event gave out free pizza, even better!

Trying out societies and going to events is a fantastic way to meet new people. And especially early in semester – it’s 100% socially acceptable to ask anyone you meet if they want to hang out again. Give them your contact details and bring them along to another event you’re heading too. Bonus connections if they also bring their friends along for you to meet!

Even before you arrive, try to find and join group chats for your course, accommodation and societies you’re interested in – you can always leave them again if they get annoying.

Don’t blow all your money

Large regret of mine! I worked part time during my last couple years of high school, and wasted those savings very quickly on many impulse spends in first year, so try exercise some forward thinking and budgeting – 2nd year you will definitely thank you.

Find part time work that works for you

Working whilst at uni definitely is possible, especially if you find a job that’s flexible for you. There’s many opportunities to work for the Student Union (EUSA), eg in their bars, shops or cafes, or roles for the University such as a Student Ambassador. I’ve also found that zero hours contracts or working only one day a week fits well around a busy degree.

Alongside part time work, I make additional income from taking part in market research, focus groups and paid surveys. Whilst these are definitely not reliable sources of income, they really do add up.

There’s also lots of grants available as a student, definitely apply to any you’re eligible for, you may as well try!

Meal Prep and Food Shopping

I found cooking a struggle the first 2 years of uni. If you’re the same, I highly recommend using recipe apps or websites to get you started. I use a meal planning app to keep me organised and know what ingredients to buy. Every meal I cook for dinner, I always make a double portion, to eat the rest for lunch the next day. This is a great way to save money, as buying lunch out every day gets expensive.

When food shopping, make sure to be realistic about what you’ll actually eat in a week. Make sure to keep an eye on use by dates, and don’t bulk buy too much fresh food unless you know you’ll use it before it goes off. Also try to sign up to shop’s loyalty card schemes, and scan your card every time you shop, even the tiny purchases can add up to lots of points to save you money later.

Turn up to classes prepared

To be honest, not sure I’ve improved much at this! However I do think to make the most of your classes, especially tutorials and practicals, make sure to turn up prepared. I struggled to keep up with lectures, so I often turned up to practicals with no clue what was going on – not the most fun. Check your timetable in advance and prioritise making sure you’re at least up to date and understand the material relevant to the next interactive class you have.

Get involved with Opportunities

It took me far too long to realise it actually is cool to sign up to extracurricular talks and events. There’s so much to explore at uni and it’s a great time to try out a range of things. If something takes your interest – just give it a go! And don’t let having to do an application for a big opportunity put you off – you might have a surprisingly good chance.

Reach out for Support

There really is a huge range of support available at uni. From topics like mental health and wellbeing, disability support, financial help to advice on a large variety of topics. These services exist to help you, so you may as well at least give them a try. If you need support in any way – reach out. Uni is about so much more than just your degree, so always put yourself first and make sure you can enjoy the most of your time here!

Want to find out more?

Chat with Sophie

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