I have just completed my first semester here at the University of Leicester. I’m just over an eighth of the way to graduating. There’s still a long way to go, but in the short while I’ve been here, I managed to figure out a few things about Uni life that I would use as advice for anyone willing to hear, and what to do for the rest of it to go as I want it to.
Coming from Brazil, I expected a huge change once I got to Leicester, change in language, in food, in temperature, everything was unfamiliar. At first, I thought moving to England would be a huge challenge, but I wouldn’t change a single aspect of my experience so far.
Months before coming to Leicester, just after getting accepted, I joined as many Facebook groups for UoL incoming freshers as I could find. Yes, that did sometimes mean I got a lot of spam but I also joined smaller Snapchat and WhatsApp groups where I got to know people and become friends with them. This made me feel a lot more confident coming to uni and I felt like I wasn’t completely on my own and the pressure of making friends was a lot smaller. Keeping friends is much harder than making them, but it is natural to drift apart from the first people you meet at any uni. Some friend groups formed in these online chats didn’t stick after everyone came to Leicester and met more people with similar interests, in their flats, or courses but I still feel like it was very important for me to already arrive with many contacts and acquaintances.
At the same time, some people I met on my first week when we arranged a meeting through a law group chat, have now become some of my closest friends and introduced me to my best friend and the person I spend all my time with.
At first, I was a bit worried about not wanting to go out to nightclubs all the time (especially with all the spiking cases). I knew there were going to be other people who weren’t too keen on going out all the time, but it's not like I never wanted to go out and party. I just wanted to be able to find a group in between, and I did. It is very easy to meet new people and make friends in uni, and I was able to meet people with similar interests and I know many people who go out three or four times a week, I don’t feel pressured at all to go out every time they do and every time we do go out, we still have loads of fun.
Societies, sports, pro-bono, extracurriculars are always important, they look good on the CV, you feel great when doing things you like, and they’re excellent ways to meet more people. I joined the Equestrian Society, the French Society, the Law Society, ELSA, French Courses, the Insight Project and I am a Student Representative for my course as well as a volunteer Peer Mentor. At times, it feels like I am doing too much but, at the same time, I am glad I am doing everything I wanted to and I’d much rather do everything I want to do in my first year and then carry on with the things I most like the following years.
The number of extracurriculars I am doing still allow me to have enough time to relax and do all my law school work. It is extremely important to figure out your style of how you manage your work. For me, I find it best to plan out how my day, my week and my month is going to go. This allows me to figure out how much time I will need to do everything I need to do and figure out when is the best time to do it. But at the same time, one of my top tips is to always stay very flexible with your schedules and plans. Of course, some things like in-person classes cannot be changed but very frequently, new events will pop up at very short notice and so you will need to shift a few things around and fit everything in again. When this happens, don’t do what I do, don’t beat yourself over the fact that you haven’t done everything you wanted to do that day. You will need to make a few sacrifices every so often and it's much better to have finished all the important work or completed your commitments than having gone on an ASDA trip or done the laundry when you planned on doing that.
If I had to emphasise one thing out of my entire experience it is the importance of maintaining a work-life balance, giving yourself time to rest and allowing yourself to have off times. Don’t beat yourself up for not being super productive every day. Sometimes rest is just as important so that the next day can be productive. It is extremely important to do non-academic things and give yourself some time every day to do what you like even if it’s something small like watching a movie, spending an hour making a good meal, or going for a walk outside. Keeping up with your mental and physical health is just as important as keeping up with your academic work and one directly impacts the other.
Reflecting on what my time at UoL has been like has been very eye-opening for what has gone right and wrong so far and what I can do to keep going like I want to. Sometimes the best way to hear advice is by giving it to someone else. I hope this post helped anyone considering starting university in the UK or already studying here at UoL. Even if it may sound like repetitive advice - eat healthily, take breaks, work hard but have fun - there’s a reason for it to be repetitive. These are some of the best ways to ensure your time at University goes as well as possible.