By Raveena, a final year Warwick Law School Student.
Starting university can be daunting. I remember the mixture of nerves and excitement sitting alone in my new room for the first time, my unpacked suitcases around me. Everyone’s experience of Fresher’s is different but a common theme is that it’s a bit of a roller coaster!
My first friends were my flatmates. After my parents left, I kept my door open while I unpacked. During the day, each person who walked past said ‘hi’ and we had our first conversations! Popping into the kitchen for a cuppa or to prepare meals allowed me to meet the rest of my flatmates.
Tip 1: Do things your own way! On my very first day, a few of the students in my flat wanted to play a ‘Truth or Dare’ drinking game. This is fine if that’s your thing, but don’t worry if it’s not – don’t feel pressured to do anything you don’t enjoy.
I made my closest friends through societies and Law Society events allowed me to meet lots of other law students. Events seemed to take place almost daily in my first few weeks and made it easier for me to get to know other students on my course.
If you find that you’re still struggling to make friends, don’t give up! I know lots of people who took a while to find those who would later become their closest friends. Enjoying university isn’t always immediate. Don’t let your friends’ Instagram stories fool you: there’s no point comparing your experience to what you see on friends’ social media, often they’re only sharing a small part of their day/experience!
Starting law at Warwick means a shift to just 12 contact hours a week so how you spend each day is largely up to you.
I’d recommend going to events run by the different law-related societies. Look out for Law Society’s ‘Introduction to the Legal Profession’, Bar Society’s ‘Demystifying the Bar’ and CLAW’s ‘crash course’ early in Term 1. The Law Fair (22nd October) provides an opportunity to meet many of the larger commercial Law firms. Bear in mind that this is not the only route into the legal profession and getting involved with a range of societies will help give you a wider understanding of legal and other opportunities.
Tip 2: Remember you have time to work things out! The intense focus on careers when lectures had barely begun was a little intimidating for me. Law firms generally recruit two years in advance and students tend to start applying in their second year so this gives you time to settle into university life and learn about yourself and your interests. I’d really recommend getting a law student mentor (Law Society organises this) who can give you friendly advice on all things uni-related.
I signed up for the First Year Mooting Competition despite not knowing what ‘mooting’ meant. Preparing for each round improved my legal advocacy, time management and self-confidence and allowed me to form opinions and draw connections with topics I studied in Tort, Criminal and Property Law.
Tip 3: Keep track of the opportunities available. Follow the law-related societies’ social media and Warwick Law Careers.
It’s not all about law! It’s great to have other interests. I tried out a Wind Orchestra rehearsal, signed up for RAG raids and volunteered to help organise UNICEF on Campus’s fundraising event. Warwick has relatively short terms (Term 3 is mostly spent taking exams) so it pays to get involved early on. Even if things seem daunting, try to channel your nerves into motivating yourself to try new things. You might be surprised at what you achieve!
Make time for yourself
Personalise your room and make it a space where you can relax and unwind.
The addition of a few posters gave my room some colour, making it feel a lot less empty. Sticking up photos of family/friends from home reminded me that I had people to turn to if I was feeling overwhelmed. To begin with I rang home every few days for a little catch-up and called my best friend from school once a week, a pattern which is still going strong two years later.
Tip 4: Make time for things that you can look forward to. If you enjoy nights out, now’s a good time! If you prefer chatting over a hot chocolate, go for it. Term 1 gives you the most time to enjoy the freedom and independence that comes with starting university so make the most of it before deadlines and assessments start to appear.
Good luck! Feel free to send me a message through the Student Opportunity Facebook page.