My next ex-fresher is the lovely Emily (right), who studies at the University of Southampton's Winchester School of Art. She studies Fashion & Textile Design, with a Fashion Design specific pathway. And having seen some of her creations, I can say that she's going places! So, here's what Emily got up to during her first year...
Have you enjoyed your first year at university?
I've thoroughly enjoyed my first year! Its been a learning curve on so many levels. I've finally fully gained my independence in my studies and how I live which at nearly 21 is a great feeling. It's also confirmed for me that I am doing the right thing by studying what I love, as for so long I was convinced University just wasn't for me.
How you you describe your Freshers' week?
We were lucky enough at Soton to have a freshers fortnight though that did mean attending introductory classes (very hungover) alongside going out and partying. I wouldn't describe Freshers as anything special; we had some great nights out in Southampton, and while we aren't particularly spoilt for choice in Winchester we still managed to make a good time of it. I was particularly excited for my 20th birthday which we had planned to attend a bar crawl in Southampton, however our JCR team weren't the most organised of people after they had a bottle of wine and the transport messed up meaning I couldn't get there, so that and two days of very violent freshers flu were probably my low points.
What were you most nervous about during the run up to university?
People. Meeting new people is not one of my favorite things and living with complete strangers in a town I had visited twice in my life terrified me. We were at a service station just outside Southampton when my parents drove me to uni and I spent quite a while in the bathroom thinking I would throw up I was so nervous. I nearly told them to turn around a drive me home as I was so convinced I was making the wrong decision, but I'm very glad I didn't.
Once you got to Southampton, did it meet your expectations?
Yes, my course was everything I wanted and more, and while Erasmus Park wasn't the largest place to live it was comfortable enough and had a community feel rather than the flat/block segregation that tends to occur in other halls. Winchester is a wonderful place to live for a creative mind, and while it can be expensive at times it's not so different from Truro (Cornwall) so it felt like a home away from home.
Was is hard to get into the swing of university life?
The moment I started unpacking the nerves were gone (unpacking is a fantastic distraction and I recommend it's the first thing you do when you move in) and I took to independent living like a fish to water, after feeling quite restricted by my parents for so long.
Could you tell us a bit about your first year accommodation?
I had a top floor single bed en-site room in a mixed house of 10, in a block of 18 houses (one of two) with a shared kitchen which was ridiculously small, to the point where we had to cook in relay as there was only one cooker and a 4ring hob. While I loved my room with its high pitched ceilings you could hear the rain on (not always so pleasant granted) the kitchen was a stressful point for me throughout the year, as I may not be the tidiest person (guilty of having a floordrobe) but I can not stand dirt and mould left to the point of being unhealthy. Whilst we had cleaners they would just clean around the mess allowing it to fester. Living away from home was the easiest and possibly the most pleasant part, as while I missed my family a little (mainly my cats, sorry Mum) being able to come and go as I pleased and not have to ask permission anymore was wonderful.
What's your second year student house like?
I now live in a semi-detached 4 bed student house a 10 minute walk from my campus. I'm sharing it with three other girls on my course who are also good friends of mine. As my contract runs from July to July I decided to stay and work my way through the summer in Winchester, and while I miss Cornwall and the people there, the idea of spending an extended period of time back at home now I am so used to my freedom is not a pleasant one.
How you feel now you've finished first year?
Like I really need to knuckle down and actually put some decent effort into my work, as I am expecting second year to be harder and more challenging. Also I wont be able to pull the wool over my second year tutors eyes as I have so easily done this past year (pretending to know what you're doing is a valuable skill) so showing up to seminars over tired from procrastinating by marathoning tv shows having no sketchbook work done is no longer an option.
What was your work load like?
I didn't find the load too much more than my Foundation Arts year but there were new skills to master and more theory classes than I had expected so they kept me occupied as I may have gotten a little bored otherwise. I found many of the practical aspects of my course quite easy as I am much more adept on industrial sewing machines than many of my classmates and I recon my neat and tidy sewing made up for my lack of sketchbook work in many of my tutorials.
What do you feel you've achieved this year?
I passed with a 2:1 which is a great achievement for a girl who never thought she would go to university. I made a tie during my third year experience which was shown at Graduate Fashion Week and ended up on Vogue.com. I was elected president of my JCR Committee and this means I get to plan and run Freshers '14 for Erasmus Park. I didn't need to get an overdraft (Dad you were right).
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
No, as everything worked out well in the end, though in hindsight I should have attended more classes and maybe tried a little harder.
What money saving tips would you pass on?
Don't get an overdraft. You don't necessarily need it (unless it's to pay accommodation) and you can end up with no money AND in debt very quickly. You also don't need branded food. Tesco's own Jaffa Cakes still taste like Jaffa Cakes.
Amy tips on how to de-stress?
Luckily as a creative arts student I have no exams, but running up to deadlines I liked to go swimming or take a walk just for half an hour or so to clear my head. I'd also be really busy at times and forget to eat so I would make sure I had one decent meal a day to keep me going.
What advice would you give to up and coming freshers?
There is a whole world of people outside of your flat, my best friends at uni all lived in completely different houses or blocks to me, so don't assume your flatmates are the only friends you will make. Also having watched my friends blow all their scholarship or bursary money (some in scarily small periods of time) and then be struggling for cash I would say to anyone SAVE as much as you can, before and during uni and only buy what you can afford. If you have to pay your accommodation next week you really can't afford those new shoes.
I hope you enjoyed reading about Emily's first year! If you'd like to know anything about Emily's course or her university, then drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll put you in contact with Emily! If you'd like to share your first, second or study abroad year on my blog then leave a comment of drop me and email!