Fitting in at university

Starting your university journey can be daunting at first. Everything is new, you worry you’ll not fit in and things can feel a little overwhelming. Relax – it’s okay. It gets easier, trust me.

On starting University, I had the feeling of nervousness, constantly asking myself “am I going to fit in?”, “will I make friends?” and “will I enjoy the halls I’m living in and get on with my flatmates?” It was a constant battle of self-doubt and questioning myself. Now that I’ve been through my first year at university, I think I have a pretty good idea of just how to get stuck in and find the place where you can leave your mark.

These tips outline how I was able to find my place as I embarked on my university journey. I hope that when you embark on your own journey you may find some of these tips helpful to find your perfect fit.

Living in halls

Living in the University’s halls of residence was a great experience in adjusting to university life. It was a constant buzz of activity, meeting new people and attending common room events such as pool tournaments and pancake nights. It’s also helpful feeling as though you’re starting a life at university with people in the same situation as you.

Living in halls was a great way of making and cultivating new relationships, with groups of people with different nationalities educating me on their different cultures and beliefs.

I found living in halls helpful in my transition to starting university, especially being an international student. I was able to be around people who could help me locate different things around the campus, Derby city and just help me adjust to UK life and the cultural differences that I may not have been used to.

Joining a society

Joining a society really helped me in finding my place. Not only was it a great pastime for trying out new hobbies, but it also helped me to connect with people who shared similar interests to me. This really helped in making friends who were on the same wavelength as myself when it came to hobbies and interests – it became a strong connecting point.

They say university is one of the best places to find yourself and to get to know and cultivate new interests and hobbies, and this has been especially true for me as I started venturing out and trying new things.

I started off being part of the Christian Union society and it was a great way of making new friends. As I settled in more at the University, I started new activities such as hiking in the Peak District and at Calke Abbey while taking in the sights with friends, as well as taking up a bit of mountain biking.

Taking part in various activities the uni has to offer

Another great way of finding your place is taking part in activities that are offered by the University. This may be joining a society, perhaps subscribing to the health and fitness centre or maybe even just being spontaneous with friends and going out and about exploring Derby or surrounding areas and cities.

The University of Derby also offers various opportunities to travel, such as course related fieldtrips and the International Travel Awards where undergraduate students can apply to visit a country and experience its culture and heritage. This is another brilliant opportunity that helps to widen experiences and shape the person you want to be, both at uni and as you enter into your adult life.

Derby Difference

Exploring Derby City

Derby as a city has many places of interest and is a buzz of gentrification. There are various nightspots that appeal to students, bars and pubs where people can get together and just have good conversation over a pint or two, and there are some amazing restaurants that cater to even the skimpiest of students’ budgets.

Students are spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping at Intu Derby, a favourite among students given the selection of shops in one place making it easier to look for what you want. However, there are various other shops and boutiques that specialise in more niche areas.

Derby city has some amazing areas of interest such as the majestic architecture of cathedrals and churches dotted around the city, the spectacular Peak District with its picturesque landscape and towering mountains, as well as the famous Alton Towers that can be a great day out at the weekend. Derby Theatre, which puts on superb productions, is also a great place for theatre goers and people looking to try out new activities within the city.

Getting a job

Getting a job whilst studying is not mandatory, but largely it’s a necessity. For me, finding a job has not only helped earn a bit of extra money, but it’s been useful in gaining responsibility and giving me exposure to what working life is actually like. Not to mention I was able to expand my social circle through the people I have worked.

Getting a job at uni has also helped me to network with various professional colleagues, supporting me in widening my perspective on working life and broadening my career options as I work towards attaining my degree.

Getting involved on your course

Once again, as I look at how I found my place at university, I cannot help but think of the primary reason why I’m at the University of Derby in the first place – to get a degree at the end of it all.

Getting involved with your course not only helps you understand more about the degree you are studying, but it may also help you to enjoy it more and gain a passion for the subject. This may entail participating in any course related trips, joining a society that may be relevant to the course you are studying, or even seeking a temporary work placement to gain more hands on experience of working in your field of study.

I found this to be especially true in my case as I actively participated in a fieldtrip to Scotland as part of a Geology module. This helped me to gain a better appreciation of what I was studying and helped to vary the routine of attending lectures and learning theoretical data, as opposed to being out in the field actively seeing or doing what you’re learning about through a more hands on approach.

In conclusion, I believe university is the best time of your life to just put yourself out there and try out new things. Gain new experiences, meet cool people and let those things and your own personal values and morals shape the way you want to be and how you interact with the world. Eventually you’ll be able to find your place and your path as you progress through your university career and in day-to-day life.

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