Things I Wish I'd Known in First Year

By Astrid Franciszka

Pictured: Me as a baby Fresher!

As my time at Cambridge comes to an end (how did we get here so quickly!) I’ve been reflecting a lot on what I’d do differently. Looking back, my first few terms weren’t great, and it was only last term (term 8 out of 9…) that I properly found a work-life balance that made me happy. I thought you could learn from my mistakes so have put together a list of tips I would give to myself if I had my time at Cambridge.

- Don’t worry about what people think – you were so preoccupied with worrying about looking stupid or failing at something that you tried nothing. But everyone at University is trying new things for the first time. So, audition for that play that looked interesting, apply for that role on the student newspaper! No one is judging you for trying.

- You don’t need to work as hard as you think you do – you don’t have to read the entire reading list, choose a few articles and read them closely instead of holing yourself up in your room with a pile of books. You don’t have to work for 8 hours every single day – if you’ve got no work to do, you don’t have to create more for yourself. You’re allowed to take days off, to go home for a weekend, to call friends, to enjoy yourself. Yes, you’re at one of the most academically rigorous universities in the world but that doesn’t mean that university is all about work. Get out of your room, and get involved.

- Start rowing in first year. You don’t know this yet, but in three years’ time you’re going to be obsessed with rowing. You’re going to love training and hanging out with your boat squad. And yes, I know you haven’t exercised since year 8 but sometimes miracles happen. Rowing is a great way of getting to know people from different year groups, and a really great way to find a supportive group of friends outside of your immediate social circles. Rowing might not be the sport for everyone but I can definitely recommend joining some sort of sports team or political group to get that same experience of socialising and big events to look forward to!

Get ready for the craziest, most intense, wonderful three years of your life.

Astrid is a third year English student at Jesus College, Cambridge. She has a YouTube channel with over 10k subscribers (Astrid Franciszka) and regularly posts about Cambridge on her Instagram account (@astridfranciszka) .