In the latest in our student reflections series, first-year student Solomon Lewis tells us about his experiences.

In my first year at University it is fair to say I struggled, as I did not fully appreciate what the transition from college life to University would actually be like. I missed spending time with my family and friends. I was overwhelmed for the first couple of weeks as there was a lot to do so many people to try and talk to and get to know. It was fun anda little insane. I would say the best thing about Newman University is that as a small University you get more contact with the staff than you would at bigger universities which helped me settle quickly and calmed my nerves. University opens your mind as well as your eyes. You will be shocked at the amount you can learn simply through meeting new people and facing new challenges.  

As a mature student I was used to having a disposable income and was uncertain how I was going to manage having to adjust to counting the pennies! I was lucky enough to be awarded a Newman academic scholarship; this has helped me with the majority of the day to day costs at University.

Before going to University my friends told me that in the first year you did not really have to apply yourself. However I found the workload was heavier than I had expected. The levels of organisation you need to stay on top of things were even more of a surprise. Things did not get off to a good start; I missed my first lecture as I did not take note of the room number. Gone were the days when you could depend on teachers to help you. Yes, it is easy to spend the first year, lying in bed at home, having nights out or missing lectures and spending a whole night trying to catch up but if you are serious about your degree, you will need to motivate yourself and organise your time.

 As a history student I find the lectures and seminars to be engaging and stimulating as there is always constant interaction between lecturers and students. Lecturers encourage group activities and debates on issues and themes.

Spending time on campus I discovered everything got to be social. There are chances to mingle and meet individuals constantly. Lunch times are used to discuss campus gossip, library times are long-planned trips and even walking through town you will bump into many friends since Newman University feels more of a close community full of likeminded people.

Despite many challenges as a fresher, my first year was pretty awesome. I imagine that University is going to continue to be a journey of personal development; one year from now I will most likely glance back at second year and wonder where the time went. I am under no illusion that I will be facing new challenges of workloads such as my final year exams and dissertation- however that is what University is all about.
Solomon Lewis

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