ADVICE: STARTING NEW

11:42:00

The beginning of September is always a special time of year. Saying goodbye to the warmth and freedom of summer, getting ready for cozier and colder days and at least for the last five years it also meant new starts for me. After high school I moved from my mom´s to my dad´s in September, a year later I headed up north to start my Bachelor in Sweden, in 2014 I moved to Göttingen for an Internship, in 2015 I came back to Sweden for my final year and last year I spent September travelling South America before starting my Master.
For many of you the first week of September is the start of studying, wether that means back to school, starting university or a new course. And a new start cannot only be exciting, it can also be pretty scary. I used to worry so much about finding friends, liking my classes, finding a flat... the idea of just taking off and start living in a completely new city used to be quite terrifying. However now after starting over in about six different cities and being quite happy in all of them starting over really has stopped being scary to me. I am confident that things will work out for the best, because they have up until now and I am quite accustomed to getting used to a new environment quickly. So in time for many new starts I thought I´d shared some of my insights into starting studying.


Preparation

You should know where to go and how long it takes you to get there. Realistically you will already be freaked out and terrified enough on your first day, missing a bus, getting lost and oversleeping should not be part of the plan. So be prepared, maybe choose your outfit the day before (as if you haven´t planned it for weeks already) and leave some wiggle room for mistakes. Now I was always fine with really just being myself in wearing the clothes I like and feel comfortable in who I am, but keep in mind that people will judge you based on your appearance as well. Then to be honest if you click with people, you will click with them. My boyfriend at the time dropped me off for my first day of Master classes and one of the girls who would become one of my best friends thought I was one of those super clingy girls, but soon learned I was actually an okay person and we have been friends ever since. So yes first impressions matter, but you will also have enough time to change them.



Orientation week

In England they called it Fresher´s week, in Sweden Insparken, in Germany O-Woche. They usually exist at all unis and if I can tell you one thing it is not to miss it. These weeks are designed to make your stay easier, they explain uni life, they force you to hang out with people from your class, they show you around town and next to all this organisational stuff they also get you drunk enough to actually talk to people.
The best thing about these weeks: everyone here is in the same boat. All those people are just as desperate as you are to make friends, everyone here is a little nervous and everyone has grand plans about starting uni and becoming a completely different person than they were in high school. No one is going to be annoyed if you just walk up to them and say hi. The don´t no anybody either, so usually most people will be pretty happy to just have someone to talk to. This is a little like pick up lines and a little "Hi I am very nervous, what about you?" will usually work better than you acting like you are super cool and unbothered. And just in general inviting people for an after lecture coffee or beer or for predrinks at your place will always be welcome.
Don´t be too shy or too afraid to not seem cool to not have fun. Just do those silly games, just talk to people, just go to that bar night where you know no one. This is the time people meet friends they will quite likely stick with for a while so missing out here can set you back weeks in terms of friendships. Those first days were everyone is terrified and in dire need of friends combined with one or two too many beers will glue you together like nothing else can.
Now in terms of alcohol I do get that you are finally free, no one controlling you plus usually you start drinking quite early, but know your limits. Have some water and don´t be that person who looses the entire group, strips naked or hooks up with five guys while you actually have a boyfriend at home. Everyone will fuck up a little, but not only to embarass yourself as your first impression, think about your safety. There is no mom making you breakfast tomorrow and you do not know these people enough to be sure someone will hold your hair while you puke or stop you from going home with the wrong guy. You are a grown-up now (or are at least supposed to) and while that can mean no  one can stop you from binge drinking it also means you are now responsible for yourself. Better learn that sooner than later.


A clean slate

There are probably no words to describe my excitement to leave high school and finally start over. To meet new people and have the chance to be a new person. But do you really have to? What actually makes university so amazing is the chance to be you. The person you are now at 19 or 20 or 22 not the person you were or were perceived as throughout high school. So don´t feel like you need to put on a show here, to act like someone you are not, or to act cool so you can fit in.
The beauty of university is that high school is over. People here are grown ups, who are here because they are truly interested in their subject. They are not a bunch of hormonal idiots forced to hang out four multiple hours five days a week doing stuff they hate.
You probably already have loads in common with your class mate, because you all are so interestedin the same thing you are willing to spend three years burning through money and living off ramen to learn more about it. That´s a pretty good common ground to start with don´t you think?
Plus cliques are not as closely cut or important as they used to be. Actually you will be able to hang out with jocks, nerds and goths in the same damn group, because you genuinely like each other. So why miss out on this chance to act like someone who you are not?
The realisation that people actually like me for who I am is the biggest gift and biggest lesson uni has ever taught me. By the way here are fourteen more if you are interested.



You will be okay

I must say that most of my introduction speeches were super uplifting and excited me majorly (kudos to you Scandinavia!), but German professors were not half as optimistic and the old "Look to your left, look to your right, only one of you will be here next year"-speech remains popular. You will already be worried and terrified anyway so this truly does not help. Uni can seem overwhelming. Everything is so horribly huge, you have no idea where you are, which classes are mandatory again and how the hell is anybody supposed to do all this reading?
Breath. Everyone here has started just like you: scared, overwhelmed and completely new at this. Uni can and will be tough at times, but don´t be terrified before it even begins. In 90 per cent of cases, things will work out. You will learn most things by simply doing them. These thing will come to you over time, plus they are a loads of people, who are supposed to help you with all these organisational tasks. But first of all just try!! This will take some time and some work, but actually making a schedule it is not as overwhelming as it may seem and while exam season is not fun, it is not hell and other people have gone through this. Complain a lot with your new friends. You are all in this together.


Housing

Now if you on exchange or your school is somewhat decent they usually will have housing. In England you will even be forced to live on campus for a year and share a flat with 10 other idiots who just moved out and have no idea about life (which is hell, actual hell, worse than exams so enjoy). Student housing is an experience that can be both horrible and great, but it is usually easier to organise than to just free floating, especially if you should move abroad or if you will only stay one semester.
Other than that it is up to you to find a home, alongside 5000 other people looking for a flat at the same time. FUN! First of all there is the question of shared or your own flat. Opt for a shared flat for the beginning in my opinion. Not only will there be someone to help you when you are dying from a hangover or are sick, but it can be built in friends! I would usually choose location over beauty. Not saying you should move into a literal dumpster, but at the end of the day it´s more important to be close to uni and some shops than to have stuck on your ceilings. It can be difficult to spy out the perfect roomates especially if you only meet them for a 20 minute casting session in which no one is going to be fully honest ("No I LOVE cleaning and I never party at home"), but reading ads for flats well and being true to yourself in substantial points like when you need it to be quiet, if you like or dislike talk before coffee or when/if/how much time you need for yourself is really important. See that you fit the profile, don´t write people looking for 25 year olds if you are 19 (no you are not a grown up yet as much as you like to tell yourself) and please don´t bring your parents.
Local friends are usually very helpful and Facebook groups cans sometimes be better resources than webpages for flats.
Don´t give up everything that is important to you about a flat afterall you will live here for a while, but be aware that you can always look for a new flat once you have actual friends in your new city and that it´s better to have any roof over your head than none at all.

I hope you all have an amazing first week at uni, I hope you find a bunch of friends for life and enjoy this amazing phase of your life to the fullest! I will honestly never forget that feeling of having the first cup of coffee in my new home and this intense feeling of excitement for a new part of my life to begin.
If you have any more tips for starting new please leave them in the comments and tell me about your first time starting over. Did it go well?

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1 Kommentare

Thanks so much for your lovely comments, constructive criticism and suggestions. I will try to answer all of you!

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