Ah yes, the student lifestyle. Long the stereotype of many, the way of life of a student is probably the most famous – or notorious – part of university. I had a vague idea of what to expect when I went to university, but even now I get surprises every day.
With three or more university years to look forward to, your lifestyle and what you do is not just a ‘university thing’ – it’s a way of life that’ll define what you do.
So what exactly is involved in the ‘lifestyle’? Well, you can include diet in there, sport and leisure, partying, your academic work… I could go on. The point is, there are so many different aspects to your ‘lifestyle’ that it can be tricky to get the balance right everywhere. However, little things can have a big impact on your daily life around uni. Here’s a few secrets that I have that, when applied, will make a big difference:
Party wisely! – When you get to uni the temptation is to adopt a “go hard or go home” attitude to partying. Drinks offers will be outrageous and aimed at you, clubs will sell you wristbands to get you into places cheaper, the music will be loud and the spirit bottles will be lined up on the wall for you to see.
However, just because you have all the necessary ingredients to have one heck of a good night, the idea is that you should remember it, not end up being so battered you can’t remember what happened, how you got back to the flat (or indeed, how you ended up on your mate’s sofa.) When that happens, there’s always the potential for things to get worse (getting thrown out, passing out or potentially even a trip to hospital – I am informed that having your stomach pumped is perhaps one of the more unpleasant experiences of your life.)
It’s not just how much you drink, it’s about how often you drink. Let us push aside Fresher’s Week for a bit (that’s one time when going out every night is perfectly acceptable) and consider mid-term when you’ve got work to do. Going out every night is really not going to get your work done.
Avoid drugs, just don’t do it – I suspect you’ve already had this conversation with your parents (and schools drill it into you enough at it is…) but seriously, stay away from them. There will always be a small group of people that try things. I don’t get the appeal, personally, but I can imagine they have their own curiosities that they want to satisfy. The trouble is, where do you draw the line? Trying something once is sometimes how a nasty habit comes about. Even in the short-term, they have potentially horrific side-effects, especially when you take them in the most likely of environments… at a party, with alcohol. Give it serious considered thought before you try anything and think about what it could do. (I take no responsibility for whatever you decide on doing!)
That issue – Alright, it was going to be brought up at some point. I’m not going to dictate to you what you should be doing at uni when it comes to sex. I believe it’s your choice entirely. However, I will say this: Just because you’re in student accommodation with 500 other teenagers it doesn’t mean you have to sleep with every one of them. You can get a bad or nasty reputation, especially if someone misinterprets ‘what it all meant.’ And of course, there is always the risk of catching pretty grim diseases and infections from not taking the correct amount of care.
Stick to your principles, have respect for the people around you and take the precautions that you think are necessary. Oh, and remember, it’s far harder to shake off a bad reputation than it is to get a good one.
Get active! – Given my love for playing American Football, I’m probably a little bit biased. However, even if you’re not that athletic, getting moving and active is probably one of the better ways to fill any free time you’ve got.
If you’ve got a passion for sport, go and find that sports team at your uni – at the beginning of Fresher’s Week there’ll be a chance to see what’s available and teams will probably offer trials/tryouts. Get down there with a positive outlook and who knows! If you already play a sport to a high standard then the university may be inclined to offer you financial support to develop yourself further and be an ambassador for them.
If you’re not that sporty, it’s still a good idea to keep fit. Your uni will likely have a gym of some description that should be cheaper than the private-run gyms in your area. Get a membership there and keep yourself active! You’ll feel fantastic on the inside, trust me.
Find some interest groups – Societies must be the reason bars and nightclubs get such good business nowadays… Just kidding. Societies are a great way to meet people with similar interests (my mate is part of the Lincoln Gaming Society, I know people who have joined up to Anime drawing.) Of course, there are specific groups for a variety of backgrounds, ranging from the Afro-Caribbean Society to those for International Students. If you are homosexual, bisexual etc, pretty much every uni out there has a LGBT society who offer support and give you a chance to meet others.
Societies offer activities and social events for members – for example, the Business Society ran conferences, got entrepreneurs in to speak and kept people up to date with the news of the Business School, where we all studied.
Getting yourself into a group like this is a great way to get involved and looks great in your CV.
So why is it a good idea to get your student lifestyle right? Well, clearly the main benefit is based on the reason why you’re at university in the first place: to get that degree you’ve worked hard for. However, there are a few other good reasons:
Getting regular exercise and laying off the booze will do your brain no end of good. A healthy body is a healthy mind and so getting exercise and keeping a reasonable schedule of activities and getting out of bed will mean that your head is far fresher. Keeping away from the booze will mean your head feels fresher (easily the truest statement on this post) and you’ll be in a better state to concentrate.
Having a sensible attitude to sex and drugs will keep your mind focused on what’s important. In terms of the former, sticking to your morals is of huge benefit to you.
Getting in with the activities and societies may benefit you in that you’ll be around people who might have different ideas to you. Certainly I saw the benefit of being in the Business Society when it came to writing my economics assignment!