First Year is one of the most important years of your life – even if it is mostly irrelvant to your actual degree. It is a year of so much change, personal growth, academic challenge and it is a year in which you can either flop or surivive. Some people are swallowed whole by freshers’ week, and some people manage to stick it out, only to be tried later on in the year.

As I have come to the end of my first year of university at Durham, it’s a time for great reflection. It’s certainly been educational. So, without further ado, here are 7 things I learned in my first year of uni.

1. Always take your time getting to know people

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When you arrive at uni (particularly one like Durham where you’re all thrown together in a college and meshed together from 5pm on the first day for the rest of time), there’s a lot of pressure on making close friends. Generally, it’s assumed that the people you live with in your flat or on your corridor are going to be your best friends for the whole three years. Sometimes, that works out. But not for everyone.

In fact, you could spend two months believing that everyone is great and you’re all best friends before it all falls apart and true colours are revealed. Autobiographical much? Maybe.

Either way, one thing uni has taught me is that you should always take your time getting to know people. Never, ever place all your eggs in one basket and cast your net wide. Don’t pin your hopes on one group of people – they will disappoint you.

2. Trust your gut

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One thing that becomes essential when you move away from home and enter the wilderness of half-adulting is intuition and gut feeling. No longer do you have your parents or teachers or adult figures right by your side who have all the knowledge of their own experiences to help you avoid the inevitable landmines at uni.

You’re going to have to trust your gut when it comes to people and situations. If you go against your gut, just know that it won’t work out and that, in the end, you’ll know you were right all along.

If you don’t trust your gut, though, don’t worry. I didn’t either, and I’m still here. I learned it, and perhaps that’s far more valuable than just taking it as brute fact.

3. Never put personal progress on hold

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It’s super easy when you go to uni to forget about your own personal progress, especially if you meet people you adore and end up spending all of your time with them. If you meet someone at uni and you end up getting into a relationship/exclusive situation/whatever it is we’re going to call it these days, don’t postpone your life for them. It’s not worth it.

Personal progress is why you’re at uni, so remember why you’re there. Whatever you do, do not avoid joining clubs and societies in favour of lying in bed with your lover/friend/flatmate. You need to keep on doing you and moving on up.

4. You don’t need to worry about life as much as you used to

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Anyone who knew me before university knows how much I used to worry. You can read it in my old articles, in my advice to others and in my actions from that period of time. However, uni did teach me that excessive worrying about life is not necessary. In fact, it’s pointless.

Uni taught me that you have to go with the flow of things – that’s life at the end of the day. Worrying only soaks up all of your time and energy, which is needed at uni for other things. So, that is one positive thing my first year of university has taught me: to chill out.

What a relief.

5. Heartbreak is inevitable

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As much as many individuals try to protect themselves from heartbreak, I can confirm that it is impossible to avoid. Every single individual will experience heartbreak in some form or another, and it has taken my first year of university to teach me that.

Be it heartbreak from watching someone you love leave you, die, or go off the rails, heartbreak is inescapable. If you haven’t experienced it yet, then you will soon. This is not said to frighten you, though, but to enlighten you. There’s no point in hiding from heartbreak – you have to simply roll with it, deal with it and come out of it a better person.

Whatever you do, don’t let heartbreak run you into the ground. Let it make you better; let it make you grow; and let it be seen that you’re not going to be defeated.

6. There are some twisted people out there

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You thought you’d met nasty people at school? Nope, you didn’t. Not compared to what you’re going to meet at uni, anyway.

What you realise in your first year of uni is that there are some really, truly twisted individuals out there. Yes, they are a minority (thankfully), but they are there, and you’re going to have to deal with them. And that, reader, is life.

It’s how you deal with said individuals that defines your character, not how they treat you and the others around you. So, think carefully about how you act.

7. You will be fine in the end

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One thing I learned in my first year of uni is that you will always be fine in the end. No matter what uni and life throws at you, it will all be okay again.

My first year of uni has been one hell of a rollercoaster, but I wouldn’t swap the expeirence for the world, because it’s taught me so much and, in such a short space of time, changed who I am for the better.

In the end, you will be completely and utterly fine, no matter how impossible that seems when you’re going through the trials and tribulations of uni. I promise.