‘Some advice for my 1st year self’ – a second year student looks back

Experience is the best teacher, right? Well, looking back on my first year, and reflecting on the changes I made coming into my second, I feel there is some useful information that I can pass on.


I spent my first year  in Trinity Halls. Now, Halls is close enough to supermarkets like Tesco, Lidl, and Aldi… but I still found myself – nonstop – consuming ramen noodles. They are cheap, easy to make, and honestly… not even that bad on the palate. However I would recommend caution! They are not sufficient meal supplements (don’t let your diet become overtaken by the things!) Make sure to eat plenty of REAL food! I’m talking about MEAT (unless you’re a vegetarian, then I suppose that is reason enough to go without). Eat your VEGETABLES (yes, vegetables). Those green things which haunt the majority of your mother’s meals, feared by most under the age of 12, are actually important. If you eat at least some of these two things, in addition to some other select choices of the food pyramid, you won’t just survive – you’ll thrive.

fruit and veg

One easy way to eat healthy as a student is to shop at Lidl and Aldi, two great discount stores which will have most of what you want, and they also sell alcohol. I bring this up because saving money is obviously important to students, and let’s be honest – going out is expensive. A cornerstone to student life at university is social interaction and one form of such is going out with the friends you’ve made. On one hand, clubs and pubs are fun, but paying 4 euro a pint can become awfully costly! Try staying in with friends. The four euro you may have spent on a pint can be stretched much farther with a quick stop at an off-license.


The second, and more important, form of social interaction at university is clubs and societies. They are the best way to meet new people with similar interests, and to engage in activities you enjoy! Just think of something you’re interested in and see if there is a group for you, and if not, maybe start one for yourself. Odds are you aren’t the only person who is interested, and there’s nothing more fulfilling than taking something you love and building a club around it.

My final note will be on academics, that is the foremost reason for university after all! Lectures are important, and you should be in all of them. My old American football coach once eloquently said, “It is voluntarily mandatory”. Even if your lecturer isn’t taking attendance, if you think you have nothing to gain from this particular class, go. There is always something important going on, and there are things which come from the lecturer that you can’t find on the online notes – and that is if the even provide such a wonderful resource. Also, note-taking is an art form and unique to each individual – take the time to figure out what’s the most efficient way for you to take in all the information being thrown at you. Personally, I have a simple flowchart which helps me decide how to take on a class:

  1. Are there online notes?
    • No – option (2)
    • Yes – option (3)
  2. Write what they are putting on the board for you
  3. Sit, and listen. Pay attention to their lecture on the subject, and try to understand and follow along. You already have the notes!


Best tip of all though… enjoy your time! Manage you time wisely, and avoid stress. This should be a fun time for you as well!

Charlie Stein is a Student Ambassador in the Global Room from Chicago


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