Being a Fresher is huge. It’s the first time that many students have ever lived away from home, you’re thrown in with a bunch of strangers, and you enter a learning environment that is light-years different from anything you could have experienced in school.
That’s how it is for all fresher’s. However, we’ve got stuff added to that. All the amazing stuff that comes with being a student nurse. For me, there are a few things I wish that I had done differently, and I’m going to share them with you in the hope you learn from my mistakes …
- Meet People! It’s very common when you move into halls or a house to think you’re going to be best friends with the people you live with. And for some people, this happens, which is lovely. However for others, like me, you’re chucked in with people who you have nothing in common with, and who you clash with. And for the first few months I felt rubbish about this, because I was wondering why I as close to my flatmates as other people seemed to be. But after a while I started talking to new people and having a life away from my flatmates, and it was brilliant! I met people who I had great fun with; who I have loads in common with and most importantly, who I didn’t feel like I had to try and be friends with. Once I found these people, I started to enjoy my experience a lot more!
- Get a life outside of nursing. Our course is intense; there is no denying that. There will be days when it seems like qualifying is so far away that its almost out of reach, and everyone I know has felt like that. That is why, in my opinion, its important to have something to do that has absolutely nothing to with nursing whatsoever! If it’s all you talk about, all you think about, all you do, eventually it will exhaust you and you’ll begin to forget why you love it. When I’m in theory blocks, I feel like this, because without the patient contact you can forget what it’s all for. However, finding a world away from nursing helped calm me down, and it helped me meet new people. One of my friends plays hockey, another captains the rugby team and I myself work in a bar. It doesn’t sound like much I know, but I believe we are much happier, much more relaxed and we enjoy our course a lot more than those who do nothing except think about how many assignments they have to do. Of course the coursework is still extremely important, but so is having some room to breathe.
- You don’t have to find a house straight away! Within weeks, leaflets will start coming through your door informing you that all the good student properties are being taken up fast, and you’ll be left with nowhere to live! I fell for this. Twice. Both times we found lovely amazing houses by December and signed the contract straight away. In my first year, I realised my course wasn’t for me, and had to face all the problems that came with leaving a contract. In my second, I realised my housemates weren’t for me, and again, had deal with all the barriers letting agencies put in between you and leaving a contract. I was scared I would end up camping outside the student union, and using the showers in the uni gym! But after the second upset, I took some time to evaluate my options and hunt around properly. I was afraid to live with friends, in case I didn’t like them at the end of the year! I eventually found a house on a website dedicated to finding flatmates, and it was best decision I had ever made! I now live in a beautiful house, with wonderful housemates. And I didn’t find this house until July. It’s easy to get caught up in the house-hunting flurry, but take your time to make sure that it’s the right house, the right place and the right people.
The most important thing I can tell you to do is enjoy it. University is an experience unlike any other you will have, and you have to make the most of it! It’s incredibly hard work, and it’s both physically and mentally exhausting. But you get out what you put in, and when you get a positive review from a mentor, a good mark on an assignment, or, most importantly, a thank you from a patient, you will realise that it is so worth it. Also, remember that nursing is a huge community, and there are so many places be it your university, here at the Nursing Times, or even from the wonderful nurses active on twitter that you can turn to for help, advice or just a shoulder to cry on. It will be tough, it will be amazing, and it will be brilliant fun. Good luck!
Sarah Jones is the adult branch student nurse editor for Student Nursing Times.