So, my first term is over and it’s safe to say that I’ve finally gotten over those first-year jitters. It hasn’t been all plain sailing (who can say that they didn’t make any mistakes as a fresher?), but overall my first term has been simultaneously extremely fun and a learning curve.
I thought I’d use my new-found wisdom to help others in my position, so read below to find out the five key things that I learnt as an English fresher last term:
- Speak up
As tempting as it is to just sit quietly in the back of your tutorials, a terms worth of awkward silences thoroughly convinced me that it’s vital to speak up. You may think that your ideas and opinions are ‘too basic’ or ‘wrong’, but I can guarantee that the rest of your group will thank you when you finally pluck up the courage to say something.
- Share your experiences
They might have spent the first term trying to hide it, but by Christmas it became clear that everyone was in the same boat. Nobody was born understanding Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and everyone is more than a little daunted by the prospect of reading Bleak House. Admitting this to your peers and comparing with them how you’re getting on is actually a really productive thing to do. But bearing that in mind…
- Do your own thing
Anywhere in life, there are always going to be the people who go above and beyond what they’re expected to do. Some people will have already read all the books for the first year of the course, and if that’s you then that’s brilliant: well done! But similarly, if you just like to read the books that interest you, that’s equally fine. The first round of feedback sessions has taught me that people will perform equally well in their essays regardless of their methods. So, block out the negative comments and work the way that you want to work.
- Get involved
Living with all science students, it became clear to me very quickly that if I didn’t get involved in any extra-curricular activities I was going to get incredibly bored. Unlike my other flatmates, as an English student I have had a lot more ‘spare’ time where I frequently found myself on my own. The easiest way to combat this is to just get involved with as many other activities as you can handle. It’s a great way to meet new people that you may not have otherwise met and it also breaks up the endless solitary hours spent reading.
- Enjoy your lectures
Although it can be difficult to drag yourself out of bed for your Intro to Poetry lecture at 10am after a wild night out at Wiff Waff, lectures can actually be enjoyable. I’m not saying that every lecture will be life changing, but it’s important to remember to enjoy what you’re learning and to finally appreciate your reward for all the hard work you put into your A levels. At the end of the day, we all applied to read English for a reason – so embrace your lectures for the love of learning that we all obviously share.