Hello, I’m Lauren and I study English Literature at Newcastle University. I have just finished my first year and hope to provide you with some insight to what university and student life is like.
9am – Lecture
English Literature has very few contact hours, meaning that we have less lectures and seminars than other degree programmes. The biggest change from school to university is that you will find every day is completely different. This is something I didn’t really expect due to being used to the set hours in place at school. Some days my university schedule is very full whereas other days I may have only one lecture to attend.
10am – Working in the library for a few hours
Having very few contact hours means that it is your responsibility to do additional work that isn’t allocated in your timetabled teaching hours. My advice would be to use the resources your university has available especially quiet study spaces such as the library because you are less likely to become distracted by your flatmates when working from home. Working on campus also gives you separation from your flat so that space is saved for socialising. This ensures you have a healthy work-life balance.
Another tip I wish I had been told before starting university is to plan the week ahead of you. For example, I would usually plan my days out as if I was at work (9am-5pm) so I had some structure to my week, as this is what I struggled with initially when I started my course. I’d write down when I had lectures or seminars and then fill in the gaps with independent tasks I needed to complete. Writing this down meant I was more likely to carry out the tasked, prevented me procrastinating and greatly helped with my organisation.
1pm – Meeting friends for lunch.
Although studying is essential, it is important to take time out to meet friends. It allows you to talk about your experiences with other people. If you are moving away from home to go to university, making sure you have regular check ins with your friends is a big part of adapting to university life and helps with not missing home too much.
Even if it’s just meeting up somewhere for coffee or for a quick catch up in the student union can be important in maintaining a good wellbeing.
3pm – Seminar
I was quite nervous when I first started university because you are introduced to new teaching styles. My timetable for first year mostly consisted of lectures and seminars in equal amounts. For English Literature, you will find that two lectures are usually allocated per novel/collection of poetry, which means the lectures are really engaging as you are constantly being taught new topics.
Seminars (small group teaching) is what I most worried about going to university as there is an expectation for you to contribute ideas to the discussion. However, you soon realise that seminars are completely fine and working within study groups brings you closer to your peers and is actually a really good way of making friends at university!
6pm – Having food with flatmates
My flatmates sometimes cooked meals for each other. This was made by our international flatmate and was a good way of understanding different cultures more.
To unwind after a busy day, my flatmates and I usually cooked our food at the same time and ate together so we could discuss our day. Due to having different timetables it was also a great way of ensuring we spent some time together. We often watched TV together when we could with The Chase and The Great British Bake Off being strong favourites of our flat. If you are living in university accommodation and you are living with new people, I think it is important to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Everyone at university comes from different backgrounds and have different interests so I found it helpful to get involved with things I would not have usually considered. For example, one of my flatmates was very active within the Christian Union Society which, coming from a non-religious background, was something which was out of my comfort zone. However, by attending some of the events it allowed me to meet new people, learn different perspectives towards religion and also develop a stronger friendship with my flatmate.
Another great way of making friends at university is getting involved with societies. I am part of the English Society, Film Society and Indie Society. It is good to join the society of the degree you are doing because you are likely to meet like-minded people who are academically going through the same thing as you. I joined Film and Indie Society because it was something I was interested in and thought it would be a good way to socialise. Film society run weekly screenings of different films which is super fun! Indie Society is particularly good for social events such as bar crawls where you are likely to enjoy the music more plus you also get discounts at certain venues or gigs which is a good money saving hack at university. As you would probably expect from student life, going on nights out is a part of university culture. However, I was surprised at the number of social events which are run which don’t include alcohol, so there are definitely social activities for everyone to get involved with!