Higher education is becoming an increasingly popular option for young people in the UK. In 2020, university acceptances through UCAS were at the highest on record, with well over half a million acceptances into courses across the country. University is rite of passage as well as a place of learning, and quickly becomes the new home of the majority that choose live on-campus. For these, figuring out what to do in your spare time can be difficult, especially if in the first few weeks of the semester – but there are myriad things you can do to fill your time, and enrich yourself in the process.
University is far more than a place of study, it presents many opportunities for extra-curricular activities that could inform your studies, open you up to new experiences or simply offer a way to meet new people and relax outside of your course. University union societies are an excellent and accessible way to find these activities, being university-funded clubs in a wide range of disciplines. You could get involved in the student newspaper or radio station via their societies or join a sports-related society to get fit and meet like minded people. If you don’t see a society that aligns with an interest you’d like to learn more about, you can even apply to start one up.
This might seem like an obvious suggestion, but it is particularly easy for socialising to fall by the wayside when you get caught up in your studies. University is a unique academic pressure, and it is absolutely possible to lose yourself in that pressure at the expense of your mental health. Make plans to get out of your dorm room and be sociable, whether with your flatmates or course friends. Try to plan things that take place off-campus, to get clear of your studying environment and give yourself a chance to reset.
In a similar vein, making time for your friends and family at home is crucial – both for your mental health and to maintain your relationships. Leaving your belongings behind while you travel back might be a point of concern, especially in a large halls of residence full of relative strangers. As such, you might make use of private storage spaces to ensure the safety of your personal effects while you travel. For example, if you were travelling back from Liverpool University to meet family members, you could place your valuables in self-storage units in Liverpool for safe keeping. Seeing your family between semesters can be a real mental-health boost, and a brilliant way to recharge before the rigours of university tests and coursework.
Exercise and Self-Care
If you find yourself at a loose end between study sessions and social hangouts, you should use this time to take care of yourself in other ways. Exercise is a key way to look after your body and mind, keeping you limber and alert and ensuring your university diet doesn’t take hold too much. Other forms of self-care such as meditation and mindfulness exercises can help your recover from the stresses of your course, and maintain your mental health while preparing for exams.