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Tips for settling in to postgraduate life

By Talk Postgrad

Monday 12 October 2015 Student life

We asked some postgraduate students for advice on how to make a smooth start when settling into a new course.  Here's what they told us:

- It might not be the most exciting task, but get your admin and finances sorted and find out how to get any scholarship payments if you're owed them.  You'll feel much better once this is all out of the way.

- Attend introductory talks. It might help to put your mind at ease about a few things and may prove useful later.

- Get to know the postgraduate work space you will have access to - it'll help you settle in more quickly if you feel at home.

- Explore the union – it's for everyone, postgrads included! Unions are good places to meet up with friends, study and get involved.

- Find activities to balance your studies, that might be a sport, a singing group, anything really.  It's good to have things to break up the occasional monotony of study.

- Making friends, both in and out of your course, can really improve your postgraduate experience and give you a broader sense of what's happening on campus.

- Make sure you keep on top of your study, reading over notes after each day's lectures.  Read a little of the next day's as well. Plan ahead.

- Take advantage of seminars, workshops and tutorials offered by your department as well as anything university-wide. Some could spark ideas for your own research and you'll get to meet new and interesting people.

- Make sure you're put on relevant mailing lists for seminars, PhD student socials and other activities, so that you don't miss anything important.

- Don’t try and do everything yourself. With so many services on and off campus that can help, from academic, social, careers to counselling, there's no excuse not to.

- Try to immerse yourself in university life as quickly as possible.  Identify anything that might be different to your previous institution in advance so that you're fully prepared.

- Chat to the librarian and staff to know what's on offer; postgrads usually have much wider library options. 

- There’s a lot of support for new postgrads.  A quick search of the student unions’ site will highlight dozens of events you can pop into, to meet new people. 

- Explore your new city or town. Visit a museum, attend a concert or show; do something different!

- Look for bargains and get to know where student discounts and offers are available.

- Try avoid old habits. With a new course and new friends, it would be wise to view it as a new experience, rather than a continuation of undergraduate study.

- Get involved in the postgraduate activities in your department such as research, seminars and conferences.

- It’s never too late to try something else and get involved in the different aspects of student life.

With many thanks to James (PhD candidate and PG Rep, University of Leeds), Amelia & Emma (Little France Postgrad Soc, University of Edinburgh), Tania (Postgraduate Convenor, Students’ Association St Andrews), Aaron (Postgraduate Students Chair, Union of Brunel Students) and Claudia (MSc student, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) for their contributions to this article.

You can see a variety of events laid on by universities, students' unions and postgraduate societies in TalkPostgrad’s Settling In album on Facebook. What's been happening at your University? Why not post your own photos and comments!