Human's Of Portsmouth - Niamh's University Story

Guest blogger alumni Niamh has shared their experience, tips and tricks from while they were studying at the University of Portsmouth.

  • Posted Tue, Jan 16, 2024 3:00 PM

Joining the University of Portsmouth this academic year or progressing into the next stage of your studies? Here are some things I’ve learned from starting as a wide-eyed fresher to becoming a recent graduate of the University of Portsmouth. 

Starting at a new university is already intimidating, let alone succeeding in your studies, joining a new workplace, managing your own finances, making new friends, and figuring out a new city by yourself.

And now you have to do this all at once – and pretty quickly.

In 2018, I arrived in Portsmouth from Ireland to begin my Applied Languages course, never having visited before, knowing absolutely nobody. 

Last year, I graduated with a Bachelor of Honours degree, a city I now call my home and life-long friends. You will get there! 

However, it isn’t always easy, so if you’re currently feeling the anxiety of starting university, hopefully the things I’ve learned, may help you too.

Financial Concerns

This is one of the more daunting worries you may face. With everyone eligible for varying student finance payments, with different financial backgrounds, it’s easy to compare yourself to others. As the saying goes, “comparison is the thief of joy” and everyone will face different struggles throughout their time at university. Some of your peers will struggle with aspects of university, that you will consider a breeze.

If finances are concerning you, visit the Student Finance Support section of the University of Portsmouth website where you can access support from the Student Finance Centre. Advisors can assist you with a multitude of financial concerns, such as appealing student finance loans, money management and budgeting advice.

Help is always available at the university – you won’t be the first to ask for it and you won’t be the last. 

Social Concerns

Finding yourself in a new city, where you don’t know anyone can be terrifying, and I found this when I arrived for my first year. For me personally, the best advice I could give if you’re struggling to meet people or make friends, is to get a job - if you’re in a position to.

Throughout university, I worked four days a week in a bar – not that I recommend this line of work while studying – goodbye sleep!

But practically all the friends I’ve made throughout university, weren’t made at uni. I had amazing classmates, but my course was small. I also had to work due to financial reasons, but throughout the beginning of first year, I made an effort to socialise with my colleagues, outside of work – and these people are now friends that I will have for life. I genuinely believe that I wouldn’t have met most of my friends, if I didn’t work throughout university. 

This is one of the many social concerns you may feel throughout university, which leads me to my next nugget of wisdom, well-being advice!

Wellbeing Concerns

With the amazing adventure you’re about to go on, there will still be times in life where everything just feels pretty crap! When I was in second year, the university closed due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, and like many people, I saw my mental health decline.

Whether it is support-groups, therapy or just guidance and advice, you WILL get the help you need through the university well-being service. I have benefitted from it on many occasions (and it’s free!)

Visit the Health and wellbeing page on the University’s website for further information.

Whether it’s been low-lows or incredible highs, I’ve always found the support I’ve needed. I’ve earned my degree, made incredible friends, and now feel at home in a new city – and you will too. 


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