What does college have in store for you? Here’s a first-hand account by someone who’s been there and done that.
Being accepted to University College Cork was the happiest day of my life. The delight of being finished secondary school and the joy of gaining independence was a feeling I can’t begin to describe. 
However, there are things I wish I knew before I started there last September. Hopefully my account of first year in a university will help you in the long run too. 
I wish I knew how to save
I was a bit late in setting up my own student bank account and was still relying on my mother to hand me my grant money once a month. To make things worse, I had the awful habit of splurging it all. 
Sometimes there will be unavoidable expenses, like books and stationary, but I soon realised that having a small bit saved up for that rainy day can really come in handy when you least expect it. 
Personally, I felt that AIB’s Student Plus Bank Account was so helpful when it came to saving. Offering free ATM withdrawals in the Republic of Ireland and free contactless debit card transactions, soon I was no longer relying on good old Pepper the Piggy Bank! 
Plus, this year AIB are sound enough to offer students a 20% discount off of Justeat.ie when you set up a bank account by the end of October. Trust me, it makes the world of a difference when you’re a big foodie like me! 
I wish I knew not to panic 
In addition to regularly being skint, I had an awful habit of working myself into a panic. Assignments and exams are of course going to come with some stress, but I set myself into panic mode anytime I so much as thought about it. 
With money issues always on the back of my mind, it left me distracted when it came to approaching my studies. The most important advice I can give to any new student is don’t panic. Take everything one step at a time and don’t try sort several things out at once. Focus on one assignment, get it done right and move on to the next thing on your list. 
Don’t let financial worries run into a long term issue. AIB have a specified Student Help Centre. Give them a ring, you’ll be amazed how helpful they can be. They can turn what seems like a huge issue into an easy solution. 
This advice can be taken with any situation – talk it out and don’t panic. I found that once I had solved my financial issues (which I made out to sound so much worse in my head, due to my flurry of panic), it was easier for me to focus on my studies. Always take one problem at a time.
I wish I knew to have some fun 
As important as it is to work hard for the results you want, it’s important to step back and relax a bit. College is supposed to be an enjoyable, fun time of your life. Work is important, but so is your well-being.
Remembering to take study breaks is key to top results. All work and no play makes for a stressful time and can affect your mental health. Taking a break from that essay or study for a little while can leave you with a fresh perspective when you return to it. 
There are so many fun events on throughout the college year, so make sure to get involved in all aspects of college life. Bonding with your new classmates can set beautiful, long lasting friendships in place. 
First year is a year that is meant to be fun. Being in a new place with new people is a lot less daunting than it might seem. We’re all in this together. Remember that you’re not alone, there are people around you with the same worries, trials and tribulations. 
I wish I knew that when I first started, because when I realised that, it made the rest of my year much easier.
Enjoy your first year in college everybody. I know I can’t wait to come back in a couple of weeks!
For further information about how you can manage your money effectively throughout the college year and ensure it doesn’t stop you doing want you want, click here to find out more about the many incentives that an AIB Student Plus Account can offer. 
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