Five Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting University

Admissions, Helpful tips, Student community
7 June 2023

I still remember how daunting the first day at university was. On the way to class, I was so pumped. I was going to be an international student. That too in Prague, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. As soon as I set foot in the lecture hall. However, a feeling of dread started rising in the pit of my stomach. Maybe it was the sight of over a hundred students crammed into a confined space or the slow realization of what being a medical student in a prestigious institution like Charles University actually meant. Looking back now, I’m quite sure I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. So, here are five things I wish I had known before starting university.

1. It is okay to feel overwhelmed
It is so easy to start developing negative feelings when everyone else seems to be smarter and working much harder than you. People don't realize that most of us are trying to hide how terrified we are on the inside. You should know that you are not alone in feeling this way. There will always be people you meet that are better than you in some things but don't underestimate your strengths. You are here because you got through those endless hours of studying, preparing for the entrance exams, and eventually passing them. You belong too. Make sure to check in with yourself from time to time to prevent yourself from falling into a deceptive spiral of comparison!

2. Look after yourself
This is one of the most important things students should be aware of. Look after your health. Exercising regularly not only benefits your physical well-being but also your mental health. Eat lots of fruit and incorporate greens into at least one meal every day. Of course, treating yourself to a delicious McDonald's burger and fries every now and then doesn't hurt but making this a habit could have deleterious effects on your health.

3. Making the right friends and networking is key
This includes befriending people in the years above you, so they can guide you throughout the year. They have been through all the struggles you are very likely going to face, and their wisdom can be of great benefit to you. In addition, having friends or acquaintances with whom you can plan study sessions can be your key to success.


4. The library is your best friend
From getting access to books that would otherwise be expensive to locating a tranquil environment that facilitates your work, the university library is a universal student lighthouse. There are study rooms, computer rooms, and, in many places, even a small cafe area, where you can spend your time in between classes to grab a quick lunch. A lot of students prefer to pack their own lunch and heat it in the microwave present here, so you really don't have to worry about it getting all cold and unappetizing. Just as a side note, this option may not be available to you in every library.

5. Fresher's flu is real
The first week can be a bit rough. Not only because you are adapting to an unfamiliar environment and trying to socialize with a lot of people but also because you might fall victim to the ruthless fresher's flu. Just make sure you know where your nearest pharmacy is so you are well prepared to buy some over-the-counter medications. I would like to give you a particularly useful tip here. Your comprehensive health insurance can reimburse you for these types of medications up to a certain limit!

Hope you found this article informative and useful, and I wish you the best of luck with your studies!