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Your first year at university

Your first year at university is an exciting time but you probably have a million questions and even some concerns. Anna Veldman, who studied BSc Mathematics at Queen Mary, shares some tips on how to get the most out of your first year. 

What you need to know about accommodation

Luckily, London and Queen Mary offer many different housing options. If you are new to London, live far away or simply want to experience life in student halls, living on campus is a great way to do so. I’m an international student so I lived on campus during my first year and loved it. Being surrounded by other students and close to the city centre was so much fun. I was also able to walk to class and be at the university bar Drapers and society events in less than 5 minutes, which is definitely a perk. In my second and third year, students tend to rent a shared house or flat with friends, which is really exciting. However, if you have the option to live at home, this is a great way to save on rent. My tips for settling into your student accommodation are the following:

  • Make your room your own so that you have a place that feels like home at university
  • Join WhatsApp and social media groups for your accommodation so that you can see when meetings are being organised in the first few weeks
  • Make an effort to join these meetings, especially at the beginning

What you need to know about university workload

You will spend a lot less time in classes than you did at school. In your first year, you will have around 16 hours a week, (4 modules per semester and each one has 3 hours of lectures and 1 hour of tutorials). With Maths, there is no reading to do, only problem sheets and online practice questions. These can take anywhere between 30 minutes and a few hours, it really depends on the module. Overall, I would say I studied around two to three hours a day in addition to contact hours during my first year and I was able to achieve good grades. Of course, the number of study hours will vary greatly from person to person, but don't worry too much about the workload. As long as you put in the effort, it’s very manageable and you should have enough time to join societies, socialise and settle into university life.

What you need to know about London and managing finances

Studying and living at Queen Mary means that you will spend a lot of time in central London. While living in such a big city is fun, it can also be expensive. My top tips for saving money are the following:

  • Look into student loans and apply early for part-time jobs
  • Do not underestimate all the little ways you can save some money while still enjoying yourself. For example, if you live on campus, going to ASDA is worth it. There is a Sainsbury’s Local next to campus, which is very practical, but taking a 10-minute walk down the road to ASDA will save you so much money…
  • If you like going to bars, get the DUSK app! It is free and you can use it to get free drinks (up to one a day) all around London with no strings attached
  • If you are not in a rush, take the bus! For £1.75 you can tap into as many buses as you want for an hour. It often takes a bit longer than the tube but if you use the bus frequently, you can save quite a bit of money
  • Keep an eye out for free events advertised on social media, there is so much happening around London, and, if it’s free, you should definitely take advantage of that
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