It’s your first year at one of the top schools in the nation, the University of Georgia. Now what?

You may be living on your own for the first time, having to learn how to study effectively and efficiently, learning what to feed yourself, or making new friendships. Being a first year student can be a hard adjustment because there are so many changes happening all at once. Below are FIVE tips to help you thrive during your first semester at UGA.

1.  Make your space comfy to promote mental well-being

Moving out of your parent or guardian’s house is an adjustment. You have to be able to wake yourself up, remember to do all your work, and cook for yourself (thank goodness for UGA Dining Services). Moving into a residence hall can be daunting, but one of the best ways to promote a sense of well-being is to make your space comfortable and home-like. Coming home to a calming dorm room will help you feel happier and give you a place to seek comfort after a long day of classes and extracurricular activities. Many people study in their residence hall as well, so making sure your residence hall is less like a classroom and more like a small house will help studying seem more laid back to keep stress levels low.

2. Find a meal or snack you can make yourself

If any of these tips stick, make it be this one because learning to cook a meal you love for yourself can change everything! I don’t know about you, but coming home from a long day and getting to have a nutritious meal can turn my whole day around. Even with limited kitchen equipment, making a meal is possible. For example, if you love grilled cheese and they make you happy, turn on the toaster and get to cooking. You can also pick up a simple can of tomato soup to heat up as a side in the microwave. This tip can also apply to sweets. Visit the Nutrition Kitchen recipe archives to find plenty of nutritious, budget friendly options, including residence hall friendly desserts like banana graham freezy treats, chocolate chip mug cake, and no bake energy bites. Another great way to get you on your way to a healthier year is to include fruits and veggies in your meals. Of course, you can add a side of veggies in the dining halls, but another great idea is to buy frozen veggies that are microwaveable, like those you just steam in the bag. As for fruits, you can easily store those in a mini fridge or choose fruits that don’t require refrigeration like apples and bananas. The best advice for how many fruits and veggies you should incorporate in a day can be found at www.choosemyplate.gov.

3. Connect on campus

Get plugged in! No matter what your interests are, getting plugged in on campus will make the biggest difference in building your community network at UGA. There are so many different things to get involved with at UGA including club sports, intramurals, department specific clubs, interest specific clubs, 4-H, religious organizations, Greek Life, and Campus Kitchen. You can find a full list of organizations here. Visit the UGA Master Calendar to find events on campus or the First Year Odyssey event calendar to find events pre-approved for FYOS credit. The University Health Center calendar will keep you up to date on all the things happening through UHC and you can also be sure to follow UHC on social media @UGAHealthCenter.

4. Write down important dates

Seeing important dates multiple times every day can help you remember what you need to do and when you need to have it done. The worst feeling would have to be getting to class only to realize you’ve forgotten to do the homework or a discussion post. Writing down your dates in a planner or on a calendar, even just a to-do list will help you remember to complete assignments and study for quizzes and exams even when you get busy! Some people like an electronic format, like Google Calendar, and some prefer a written agenda. You can even find free printable calendar templates online. Having trouble getting organized? Consider booking a free wellness coaching session at the Fontaine Center to get started tackling your goals related to adjusting to campus, getting connected, time management, and more. 

5. Make time to move

Everyone knows how important exercise is to overall health, but does everybody know what it can do for your academic performance? There have been multiple studies completed that show that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory are bigger in people who exercise than those who don’t. Exercise can also improve mood and sleep and reduce stress and anxiety. Here’s the sitch: exercise = better sleep, less anxiety and stress, more happiness, and improved grades. Who can say no to all those results? Exercise can be as simple as walking to class, but don’t forget about the amazing facilities available at Rec Sports including Ramsey Center, the intramural fields, and Lake Herrick. Ramsey offers great group fitness classes for a fee. Check out their fall schedule here.

The Athens area also has a ton of other gym options as well, offering anything from standard gym memberships to specialty classes like Cross Fit and barre workouts.

For more information on the studies being done on exercise and brain health, here is an article from Harvard Health.

And remember, you’re not alone. The University Health Center is here to help. Visit us at the #BeWellUGA page to find out the latest programs available to promote your well being on campus, from yoga pop-ups to body positivity workshops to support groups. 

Written by: Caroline Hubbard, Dietetics Practicum Student, UHC Health Promotion