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Hello! My name’s Estela and I’m a third year BA English Language and Literature student at York St John University.

While in sixth form, I explored a variety of post-18 options including apprenticeships and going straight into employment. I wasn’t  entirely sure of what career I wanted to go into so my sixth form career advisor suggested going to university to do a degree in a subject which I loved (English) because it would broaden my opportunities and give me a variety of career options.

Still unsure as to whether university was the right option for me, I sought the advice of family and friends who had been to university themselves. They all expressed that university for them was an unforgettable, enriching and invaluable experience for a multitude of reasons including making friends, increasing independence and facilitating their careers. This led me to realise that university was a step that I really wanted to take and so I applied.

Luckily, my sixth form were incredibly helpful when it came to the process of applying for university and so I found it a relatively easy and stress-free experience. I found attending open days a stressful but nonetheless exciting experience. York St John University was the last open day that I attended and after it was over I immediately knew that it was the right university for me.  York St John and the joint honours English course there tailored precisely to my needs and interests. For example, I knew that I didn’t want to have to walk miles to get between lectures and YSJ’s small campus addressed this completely. I also got a real sense of friendliness and community from the YSJ open day which I hadn’t experienced in the same capacity from open days at other universities. This made me really imagine myself attending York St John as an undergraduate student and so I firmed my offer there.

The prospect of moving away from home was very exciting to me. I really enjoyed going shopping with my mum to get kitted out with all the university essentials like kitchen utensils, bedding and fairy lights! I really liked the accommodation that I moved into in my first year (City Residence) because it was only a 15 minute walk away from university and in a residential area which was peaceful enough for me to get my work done. Flatmates are really the luck of the draw so I was quite nervous to meet mine on my first day in halls but luckily I got great ones who I’m still friends with to this day!

As a third year student reflecting on my first year experience at university, I have to say that the phrase that jumps to mind is ‘adjustment period’. Like many students, first year for me was a case of finding my feet; establishing new friendships, adjusting to a brand new style of learning and navigating the ups and downs of independent life.

My biggest advice to prospective first year university students is to get involved. When I was in first year I felt too nervous and unsure of myself to really throw myself into university life such as by joining societies, going to Students’ Union events and applying for a year abroad. As scary as these things may seem at first, this is what will lead you to get the most out of your university experience and settle in much faster by finding genuine friends with interests akin to your own.

As a third-year student now, involved with multiple aspects of university life including Musical Production Society, Dance Society, the Students’ Union as an academic rep, Student Ambassadors & an ESOL volunteering project I feel truly at home at my university. My only regret is that I didn’t get involved with more sooner because I realise now just how much I missed out on!

There is a saying that goes ‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone’ and I think this is entirely true of university! If you can muster the confidence, get stuck in with everything that university has to offer; you will have an unforgettable experience and make memories to last you the rest of your life.

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