25 May student blogger – anna goodman – reflections on first year
Laughing with friends that I made five minutes before, my first blog “An Introvert’s Guide to Fresher’s Week”, seems a lifetime ago. Some parts of that timid Fresher remain: I still hate partying with strangers, forming deep friendships takes me ages, but over the course of the year, my confidence has flourished.
The second term was far more enjoyable than the first. I spent a lot of the first term working out who my friends were, what I enjoyed and how to cope with a constant barrage of work, emails and opportunities. As a beginner’s Spanish student, I was also getting to grips with a completely new language. Breaking my finger mountain biking in my first week did not help. Missing lectures for hospital appointments, as well as being unable to try out caving, scuba diving and orchestras meant that I could not socialise as much. Nevertheless, I met up with people from my church, halls, and the walking club, and slowly began to work out who the people were that I best connected with.
Joining the Spanish play before Christmas gave me a definite boost. Over the course of ten hilarious weeks I progressed from not having a clue what anyone was saying, to being able to garble out a few sentences as a highly affronted middle-aged woman. It was incredibly encouraging to watch Fourth Year students performing elegant soliloquys knowing that they too started on the Beginner’s course!
My second-year friends’ advice of not house searching until after Christmas proved wise. Most of our viewings were either new-releases or on sale from the first Term. It cut out so much unnecessary pre-Christmas stress! With hindsight, there are friends who I would have loved to have lived with who signed early, but after six weeks it was impossible for me to know who to live with. Far too many first years end up falling out with their future flatmates and moving house.
Now that I have found the freedom to fail, I can enjoy so many new things that I would never previously have attempted. I joined flute choir in March, took an International Politics module, and discovered that I love bouldering and mountain biking. My advice to any first years living in University accommodation is to use your Residence Life card! This £45 slips out of your bank account along with your deposit, and most Freshers forget that they even have it. I use it weekly for Zumba, fitness, biking and climbing. If sport is not your thing, they put on so many other social events. There is no better way of meeting other first years.
I am so glad that I came to Sheffield. After my gap year, I worried that burrowing in books would be soul-destroying, but actually, it has widened my knowledge, forced me from my comfort zone, and helped me to mature. I never expected to enjoy University as much, and I wish that first year did not have to come to an end!