5 things I’d tell my first year self

There’s this very vivid memory I have of being in George Square for the first time. I got off the bus two stops too early and wandered around in a panic until I saw a massive ‘University of Edinburgh’ sign. There were Dominos staff offering everyone free pizza, hoards of people queueing outside Potterrow.

It was raining. And I was late. Some things never change.

These are some of the things I would tell my first year self:


the face of ultimate confusion


1. Don’t pack the duvet.

It was the day before I was due fly out. Just as I’m about to zip up my case, my dad comes in with a duvet and a vacuum storage bag. Somehow we manage to stuff it into my suitcase, along with a set of sheets. My mum put her foot down when we tried to shove a pillow in as well.

Lo and behold, once I reached Edinburgh I discovered that my accommodation had a double bed and my single sheets were absolutely useless.

So little first year self, save yourself the overweight luggage fees and don’t pack the duvet. Edinburgh is in fact not a village, and shops do indeed exist. Also to my mum that shoved two packs of noodles in my case – the asian markets here are actually quite comprehensive.

2. Break the bubble

Of course, most of my bubble had already been broken – new country, new people, new norms. I hadn’t so much as changed schools before coming here. But soon I built a new bubble for myself, which consisted of binging Netflix and sitting in the kitchen with my flatmates. I kept nurturing my fear of change, of things unknown to me. I didn’t join any societies, I hardly went to any events. And although I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy my first year, it is 100% true that growth begins outside of your comfort zone.

So face your fears. Don’t let them hold you back. You won’t regret it.

3. Budget girl, budget

Let’s just say that a new discovery of online shopping (my parents never approved of it), Unidays, and copious amounts of free time did not bode well for my bank account.

4. Your tutors won’t bite

I remember getting three essays back in a row that all had the same comment: ‘please use a precise essay title’. I tried endless variations of titles, each one increasingly specific to the content of the essay, all to no avail. Finally a tutorial-mate told me that I should use the essay question as the title instead of making one up (face palm).

When in doubt young Steph, just ask the tutor to clarify. They’re not scary monsters, and they won’t bite your head off for asking a ‘stupid question’.

5. Embrace every minute, because trust me, the days go by fast

I admit to the homesick days where I would stay in bed all day and watch random Youtube videos. Days where I hated my degree, felt like I couldn’t do it, wished I was back home where the temperature rarely dropped below 10°C. But at the end of it, there is still a part of me that wishes I could be a uni student forever.

Also, stress less – it’s bad for the skin.