What to expect in your first year of university

From learning to cook pasta like a pro to making your bed at least every fortnight - here's what to expect in your first year of university.

Date: 27 September 2017

Starting university can be an incredibly daunting experience particularly in a big city like London. Moving away from home, making new friends, studying something new and most importantly learning how to cook pasta like a pro. 

A whirlwind of opportunities, experiences and challenges; your first year at university can be just as exciting as it is daunting. Sure, you might be a bag of nerves and the last thing you want to do is stand up in front of the class and tell them “what you did over the summer holidays” but eventually you’ll be bowling it into class telling everyone what you got up to the evening before.

While the first few weeks will feel like you’ve inhabited a different planet, you’ll soon start to embrace your newly-founded home. From managing your money to making your bed, here’s what to expect in your first year of university.    

Fending for yourself

For most of you, starting university means moving away from home and into student accommodation. This basically means learning to fend for yourself without someone there to help guide you. From finding an alternative to baked beans out of the tin to learning how to get your mattress sheet actually under the mattress, you’ll swiftly learn to become an actual adult (sort of).

Learning what you want to learn

After two years of attempting to juggle at least three different subjects at college, you’ve now got to the point where you can study what you actually want to study. That’s exciting, right? You’ve now got three years to fully immerse yourself in a subject your passionate about.

The fresher life

Fresher’s week is the best thing about your first year of university. It’s an excuse to drink, socialise and participate in all sorts of fun activities. From paint-parties to fancy-dress, the likelihood is you’ll so be overloaded with fresher pamphlets, you won’t know which one to attend first.   

Meeting the deadline

University is a completely different ball-game to college. Yeah, you still get to call teachers by their first name but Phil isn’t going to care if you don’t get your work in on time. At university you’re expected to organised or, at least, in the process of becoming organised. Meeting the deadline is a priority and if you don’t meet it then bad luck.

Money problems

This is a given. Your first instalment arrives in your bank account and BAM, you’re the Queen of England. Then suddenly you’re two months down the line dressed in the latest designer gear trying to convince yourself it’s OK to be eating a pot noodle every night of the week because, hey, at least you look cool. Eventually you will learn to budget and realise that your health is slightly more important than your wardrobe – just give it time.

Finding freedom

University means independence. With no parents or teachers on your back, the world is quite literally your oyster. While this might seem slightly overwhelming at first, the opportunities are practically endless. Drinks on a Wednesday? Go for it. Lay in on a Friday? Only if you haven’t got class.


I’ll let you in on a secret - it’s completely natural to stress. Learning to handle this stress in first year, however, is necessary for your second and third years when the work gets slightly tougher. Everyone’s brains works differently and it can be incredibly frustrating knowing your classmate can get the work done in 24 hours but if that’s how they work then leave them to it. What’s best is working out what works for you, considering how far in advance you should plan and discovering what helps you to de-stress whether that’s meditating, taking a nap or going for a walk.    

Friends for life

Everyone is looking to make friends at university and if they’re not then that’s just weird. For many students, moving away from home means saying goodbye to friends (at least until Christmas) and saying hello to new ones. Finding people who are passionate about the same things is such an exciting opportunity and one which you shouldn’t miss out on.