How to make the most of your first year in Nottingham

Nottingham University Freshers’ Guide

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The best way to make new friends at university is to join a club or a society.

The University of Nottingham has over 70 sports clubs. From football to rowing and rugby to golf, plus some more specialised sports like canoe polo, scuba diving, caving and motosport.

If you are not a sporty person at all; then UoN has over 200 societies to offer, ranging from the culture societies to some of the award winning arts societies like URN the radio station and Impact magazine. There will always be something for you. Some societies (like Quidditch & Harry Potter Society and TEDxUON) are so unique that you have got to check them out!

Participating in a club or a society is not only good for your social life, it is also good for your employability. If you joined in first year then by second year you might be a senior committee of the club. You will get to develop your team building, leadership and a lot of skills you need for the real world.


Get involved with Nottingham New Theatre


If you like plays, congratulations you have hit the jackpot! Nottingham New Theatre is the only entirely student run theatre in the country. This is not an amateur production; it has won several awards at the National Student Drama Festival. You don’t have to be good at acting to be part of it, there are a lot of ways for you to get involved: Stage Management, Sound, Stage Design, Publicity, Costume Design, Prop making & Make-up.  


Be a savvy shopper


Welcome to the life of being a university student. When you get the reading list of all the textbooks you need, don’t run to the bookstore straightaway. You might be able to find them in the library or at the Nottingham Students Buy/Sell/Trade Facebook page (where you will not only find books but also a lot of essentials you may need). It may help you save a fortune so you can use the leftover money on other things, like a dinner out in the city centre. Your student card is also very useful. You can get a lot of discount in stores and restaurants, including at the oldest pub in England - Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, and Rocket@Saltwater restaurant with their stunning outdoor rooftop terrace and great food. To find out all the discounts have a look at the ultimate guide for student discounts here.


Backup your lecture notes

7155283115_ff90b0ffddFirst year is all about adjusting to the new environment. The ways of teaching and learning are very different at university compared to A-Levels. At university how your lectures are taught depends on the lecturer and it can require a significant amount of independent study, you might only see the lecturer once a week. The best way to help you to digest the knowledge you have learnt in lectures is to review the notes from time to time and read through the module guide to know what is happening every week.


To do that, you have to make sure you back them up. Apps like Evernote and OneNote can give you a big boost to keep you organised. You will thank yourself for doing this when you have to find out the first week’s lectures note for revision.

Check out the 12 best note taking apps here


Work hard, play harder


On one hand, people make excuses for their procrastination by saying first year doesn’t count anyways. What does count is how well you have adapted to the university lifestyle, first year is a crucial year for you to adapt to the teaching style, to adjust your habits for all of the coursework, exams and essays. Staying on top of your workload will help your course run more smoothly, and nothing can beat the feeling of going out with nothing to worry about the next day. You can enjoy yourself more and you deserve to have a treat after all your hard work!


On the other hand, it is your first year at university so attend as many events as you can and meet as many people as possible. Your first year is the best chance to get to know your coursemates because everyone is feeling as nervous as you might be, don’t be scared to start the conversation.

Both sides are equally important and to make the most out of your first year ‘work hard, play hard’ should be your new motto.


Learn how to write a proper reference


Referencing is new to almost all of the first year students and it will haunt you through the whole journey. First year is a great chance to master referencing to make the next 3 years that much easier, because you get to practice writing university level academic essays without worrying too much about the marks.


Explore the local area


Welcome to Nottingham! There are a whole bunch of places for you to explore. You will be here for three years, Nottingham will be a second home to you so it is important to get to know the city, and the campus. While you have time you can take a walk from the campus to the city centre, visit the famous Wollaton Hall (also called The Batman house), go bird viewing at Attenborough Nature Reserve, and even just chill at Highfields park.


Start house hunting early


The early bird catches the worm and you can get the best student accommodation around December, so start looking in November since that is when most of the accommodation is available. During your first term it’s already time to start thinking about where you want to live next year, all of the good houses will be gone by the end of January after exams. If you want to make sure you have the perfect house to stay in for second year don’t delay your search!  


Find a summer internship

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First year will finish quicker than you expect, finding an internship is not as hard as you would imagine. Prospects gives you a thorough guide on what you can do with your degree, where to find placements or internships and it has the most detailed plan to guide you through step by step. Nottingham’s internal job portal also has a lot of opportunities. For finance and other competitive industries, start looking for your internship from January. Don’t give up your search by thinking companies don’t want students who have just finished their first year,. If you find one in your first year it will really help boost your career early on so it is worth the hard work.   


For more tips on how make your university life easier, check out our blog.