How to survive your first term at University


Your first term of University can be a very overwhelming time, with many students living away from home, family and friends. For many it will be a brand new experience, delving into higher education and navigating the waters of university. These are the top 5 tips that I have learnt from my first term at The University of St Mark and St John, Plymouth, to ensure your university experience is the best it could be. 

The University Of St Mark and St John ‘Marjon’, Plymouth.


The minute I discovered that I would be studying at Marjon in the September of 2019, I booked a train and a hotel for me and my mum to stay overnight in Plymouth so that we could explore my new home, and get a flavour of what Plymouth city had to offer. One of the best things you can do before you set off for Uni is to scope out, not only the campus and accommodation, but also the location you will be living in when you start in September. Getting a sense of direction, knowing the amenities available, and familiarising yourself will soon make you feel more at ease with living away from home. 


My room in ‘Kay Shuttle-Worth’ halls at Marjon University, 2019. 


Top tip on curing home sickness you ask? Bring home to you. Decorate your Uni room with familiar items, such as photos, blankets, and fairy lights to make your space feel homely and personal. For my room, I chose a colour scheme of Grey, white and Rose Gold, to make all of my items look coordinated and put together. Make use of your pin board if you have one, or unused pace to hang your favourite photos of your family and friends to remind you of home. Fluffy rugs are even better to transform the often unloved halls carpets, into a warm sanctuary for your feet on cold winter mornings. 

Me and my flatmates in Fever, Plymouth in 2019.



Everyone, either in halls or commuting, are still all in the same boat. One of the first things you can do to show you want to get to know your flatmates is by leaving your door open on moving in day, and inviting people in. This small act will go a long way, and make introductions a lot more comfortable for both parties. Another good way to keep in touch, and make it easier to organise ways to bond with your flat mates is to make a group chat, so everyone can talk together. Never be scared to ask anyone for their number or socials! It’s very important to get involved, especially in the first few weeks, when strangers can become your closest friends very quickly, but be aware of getting ‘too friendly’ as you have to live with the people in your flat for the next year! Despite the reputation that Universities hold, getting involved doesn’t always mean drinking, there are a whole host of societies and experiences for everyone. Take full advantage of these societies, and find something you’re interested in, it is a great way of meeting new people. 

The Student Union Bar ‘Barjon’ is a great place to study during the day.


Respect your deadlines! They are there for a reason, and will give you a taste of what the working world will be like after University. Leaving things to the last minute will only add to your stress levels, it is much better to start an assignment as soon as it’s set. But on the other hand, over working yourself is unhealthy, be sure to allow yourself a break every once in a while, University is meant to be a positive experience after all! A top tip is to ensure you know you way around a library, and check out all the most important books for your course in order to get a head start. Creating a study group with people from your course is not only helpful for meeting new people, but is really useful for seeing all angles of an idea, and being able to support each other with the course curriculum and assignments.

Alfie Martin, a first year student at Marjon University says that “When you know what work you have to complete, you can plan it all out within your week, the most important thing for me is not letting myself get surprised by assignments I wasn’t aware of because that’s how you become overwhelmed.” Be sure to arm yourself with notepads and stationary to prepare yourself for the term ahead.

Me and Pippin, the University Chaplaincy therapy dog.


Last but not least, the most important thing to remember is to take care of yourself. Both mentally and physically University can put a heavy strain on your health. One of the first things you should do on arrival is to register with your local doctors, and ensure you are aware of how to contact your student support. There were many, many nights during my first term where I cried in my room, wishing I was at home watching Strictly with my Mum; it’s normal to feel homesick! Keeping in touch with your loved ones via Phone calls or video chats can really help ease your longing to be home. It can be especially helpful to have a calendar to plan when you’re next seeing your family and friends, that way your time apart can seem less overwhelming. 

Sofia Deville a student from Plymouth University says to “Try to keep yourself busy, like going out for food with your course-mates after lectures” to help with home sickness. 
She expresses that she often misses home so she plans trips back to her home town every few weeks to give her something to look forward to, and has her friends and partner come to stay with her, which she says “always gives me a pick up”.

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