YAY IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME! If you’re a sucker for mince pies, movies and catching up with all your family, like me, then I can imagine you’re just as excited for Christmas as I am. But don’t get me wrong, Christmas isn’t always pretty lights and family bonding time, Christmas can also be the most stressful, chaotic and expensive time of year too. Much like university. So, here’s a survival guide for you freshers who are experiencing your first Christmas as students.

One of the most stressful things about Christmas as a fresher is buying presents. First semester has drained your bank account, and you haven’t quite mastered the art of budgeting yet, so you sit and stress about how you’re going to get your friends and family presents this year. But don’t stress, the best way to avoid spending money you don’t have and ensure everyone is happy, is to suggest doing Secret Santa. This way everybody wins; your family and friends all get something, and you only need to buy a couple presents for people, and most of the time there’s a set budget on how much you can spend. Sorted! Your friends and family will also be understanding and won’t expect much from you as you’re now a student - they’re probably just very happy to have you home for the holidays!

Now we all know that when your family are living on top of each other in a confined space for an extended period of time, things can get ugly, and fast. What makes things even harder is having been away from home for so long and having found your new sense of freedom and independence. So, when you go home and all of a sudden your mum tells you to make you bed or take the bins out, you are in complete astonishment that she thinks she can still boss you around. HOW DARE SHE!! Although you might find it hard, try and remember that when you’re at home, although you’ve temporarily moved out, you have to respect the rules you once lived under, and help around the house as much as possible. Show your family your new independence and the skills you’ve learnt, and offer to make them a meal you’ve made at uni – prove to your parents it’s not all baked beans on toast!

Christmas can also be a stressful time keeping up with uni work. My (easier said than done) advice is to stay calm and make a plan of how you’re going to spend your time, to still allow yourself time off to enjoy Christmas. You could split your day into uni work in the morning from 9 – 3 and then allow yourself the afternoon and evening off. It’s also important to set realistic goals of what you want to get done that day, don’t give yourself too much to do or it will overwhelm you, or equally too little. My biggest piece of advice would be to do all your work (if not most of it) during the weeks coming up to the holidays. That way you can spend a relaxing and enjoyable Christmas at home with your family and not have the guilt of needing to do work playing on your mind the whole time. Trust me, don’t do what I did in my first year and leave everything to the last minute, and then spend the first two weeks of term two living in complete and utter stress while you rush to meet your deadlines.

Christmas at university is one of the best times of year. I would really recommend doing Flatmas - where you do Secret Santa with your flat and uni friends and you all help make a Christmas dinner and get drunk off Bailey’s. It’s honestly some of the fondest memories I have from my first year and it’s become a tradition.

So, try to enjoy Christmas at home with your family to the fullest, because before you know it you’ll be back at university missing them.

Have a Merry Christmas!

Lucia, Second Year English Literature and Theatre Studies, University of Warwick

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