First Year in Five Questions

Coming to university is a big milestone. Whether you’re a home student, an international student, a postgraduate or a mature student, you are undoubtedly going to learn more about yourself and about others very quickly in the first few weeks of term. So here’s a quick list answering the top five questions asked by new students when arriving at university.


1) Do I have to buy and read everything on my reading list?

If you belong to the very small minority of students that have no financial worries throughout their time at university, then our answer to you is, feel free, buy all the books you want, show off your knowledge and your well-read brain to others. However, for the other 99.9% of students money issues are obviously a problem and in the first few weeks you will be asked (or required) to purchase expensive books for your course.

In many cases reading lists are essentially signposts for additional reading to assist you in your essay writing, research and general seminar preparation. You are not required to buy everything on the list, nor are you expected to have read every book cover to cover. If you are superhuman, you are welcome to try, but not everyone has the time and energy. If a tutor has specifically requested that all students need to have a copy of a certain book, then it is obviously a course requirement and you will need to buy it. However, there are many places to purchase books, such as Amazon’s marketplace and auction sites like eBay, or even older students who might be selling those particular books second hand. The library is also well equipped with numerous editions of books and you can make some keynotes to help in advance before they all disappear from the library stock.


2) I’m not very good at making friends. What should I do?

Our advice to anyone in this situation is firstly not to worry too much as you’ll only make things more stressful for yourself. Try and think of what your interests are. Whatever it is, there will be a society/team/group for you, and you should try to join one and attend some of their events so that you can meet like-minded people and begin making that all important social circle. Not all events involve drinking and partying. Many departments also host informal get-togethers in the first few weeks of term, so you can meet new people from your department or school very easily.

Chloe Averill, the SU’s welfare officer tells Impact: ‘Fresher’s week can be exciting, nerve-wracking and very daunting. My one piece of advice is that if you do not feel like you are having an amazing time and are finding it a bit difficult to settle in then don’t panic! Everyone adjusts differently and whilst Welcome Week can be the best week ever for some, for others it may be different to what they expected or just a bit too much. We have a range of amazing services here which can help students with issues from settling in, to academic issues, finance issues, mental health issues and more. Please contact any of our services if you need anything at all or give me an email on suwelfare@nottingham.ac.uk and I will try my best to get you the help you need!’


3) How do I ensure that my student loan lasts?

Tradition has it that if you don’t spend your entire loan in the first week or two, then you haven’t started your university life properly. However, this is just an out-dated cliché. Student loans are issued to assist you in your day-to-day living and/or accommodation costs. Budgeting is key in these kinds of situations, and you must be strict with yourself. That means no overindulging on luxury items such as chocolate, cakes or biscuits. Junk food will not keep you full for long.


4) I need to find a part-time job, where should I start looking?

There are many organisations within and outside the university that run various events throughout the year where you can meet and network with employers in the local area. For part-time work in particular, the organisation Unitemps has an office based within the Portland Building of University Park campus. Unitemps specialises in part-time and casual work for students, and many positions are well paid and are flexible to fit your timetable.

The Students’ Union and university services also offer part-time positions throughout the year, so keep checking the Union website frequently. Finally, many shops, bars, clubs and supermarkets in the area also frequently advertise for part-time positions. Go around and promote yourself with a CV in hand, you never know what might happen.


5) I’m an international student and I am very confused about UK student life. Where should I go for help?

The University of Nottingham is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university’, according to The Times Good University Guide 2013, so don’t worry as you are in safe hands. There are thousands of international students from all across the world studying here and the university is well equipped to answer any question you need answering or any problems you need resolving.

If you have very general questions, you can use the webpage of the International Office at the University, which has a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page for international students. However, if some of your questions are more personal and specific to you or your home country, you can visit the International Office located on Jubilee Campus and one of the advisors will talk you through any administration that you may need to do or offer any advice.

James Hewlett

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