Freshers' End | Amber - University of Portsmouth

By Issy Goode - 20:08

My next Fresher of the academic year 2013/14 is a very lovely fellow blogger named Amber, who blogs over at Amber Love. Amber is a Biochemistry student at Portsmouth University, also taking a French language module as of next year, and has been kind enough to share her story of her first year...
'This is a pic of me and the two guys I live with, my besties,
 looking like weirdos'
Have you enjoyed your first year? 
Most definitely! I think it has been the best year of my life so far. I was so unhappy before I left and desperately needed a fresh start and it was even better than I ever could have hoped.

How would you describe your freshers week?
Confusing, exhausting and hilarious. Confusing because we (we being me and my three other housemates aka the best people ever) had no idea where we were going; we didn't know of the good places to go out or even where lectures or shops were. Exhausting because we were drinking every night and despite it being freshers week we had introductory lectures that started at 9am! What was that about?! Most nights I passed out in my clothes and stumbled into the lectures in the same thing I'd been wearing the night before. And hilarious because I got on mad well with my housemates. We didn't make it out of the house to all of the events but that didn't matter - I think we had more fun when the four of us stayed in and got mad drunk!

What were you must nervous about before you started university? 
I wasn't nervous about much to be honest. Probably finding a house actually! I found out only three weeks before starting that I didn't get into halls so I had to find a house last minute! I have to say, the uni wasn't at all helpful and it was very stressful. Warning to anyone going to Portsmouth - they hardly have any accommodation so even if you're a first year be prepared to live in a house not halls! I was also nervous that no one would like me, but that's my own hang up about myself and I've met the best people ever ever ever.

Did Portsmouth Uni meet your expectations? 
It exceeded my expectations! I could never have imagined meeting so many great people, and finding so many great opportunities. For me living away from home and being independent was even better than I thought it'd be. The first night in the house was me and the two boys I lived with and we just got on so well straight away, I couldn't believe how lucky I was and knew it'd be a great year with them. I expected my course to be harder and be in for lectures much more seeing as it's Biochemistry but it was a bit of a doss really, until exams!

Did you find it hard to get in the swing of university life?
Once I had a house to live in and had the keys in my hand I wasn't nervous about starting. My life was in a very bad way at the time, really bad and I knew things couldn't get any worse for me so I had no reason to be nervous, only hopeful.

Tell us about your first year accommodation...
As I said, I didn't get halls so I had to find a house. I did this by going onto the 'homeless Portsmouth uni students' Facebook group and started chatting to people. I found the two boys (M and L) and the other girl (H) who lived with us on Facebook and we lived in a four bed house together. I preferred not living in halls to be honest. We got away with so much more; we had a living room and a garden which provided us with plenty of communal space so we spent so much time together. The house was falling apart though. For me I love living away from home! I love my family to bits and miss them sometimes, but I'm very independent and like having my own lil' place to live in.

What's your second year student house like?
Next year I am living with the same two guys again, but H is moving out to live with people on her course and a girl I met this year (R) who's now my best friend is coming to live with me and the boys! I can't wait it's gonna be mad! We found a house a two minute walk away from the house we lived in this year, because we found that the location was perfect. Next years house is bigger, cleaner, better and cheaper! Oh and I get the big room!

How do you feel now your first year is over?
I'm sad it's over! It was amazing! I know the work load is gonna be huge next year and it'll be different but I'm excited for the changes - another new chapter. I'm excited that my course will be more specialised so I'll be studying what I'm interested in. I'm excited that all my friends are living in houses and my best friends on my course are all living in a house together so I'll be staying there half the time!

What was your work load like?
Not challenging at all this year. Biochem students had lectures with Biology and Marine Bio students so really, I found a lot of it pretty dull. But next year will be better! I was nervous about practicals and always said I hated them but always ended up doing well in them.

What have you achieved this year?
I have to say I'm so pleased I passed with a 2:1, not that it counts! But my school teachers told me I wouldn't even get into uni or wouldn't cope with science so to have come out of first year like this I wanna rub it in their faces! What else did I achieve? Well I was thrown in at the deep end living in a house so sorting my own bills and stuff which I did all of. As much as I love my housemates they were a bit useless with that! So for the youngest in our house I did pretty well figuring everything out myself. Not a proper achievement as much but the friends I've made, the cracking house parties we had! I also learnt more about other people from different walks of life, I understand feminism, politics and I want to help people even more than I did before.

Is there anything you would have done differently?
I can't think of anything I'd have done differently. I could have worked harder but I didn't need to so I had a great time with my friends! I can't think of anything else I'd have done differently. I mean I had some real low moments, still suffering from depression, anxiety and frequent panic attacks. But my friends helped and were so understanding. I still wouldn't change a thing. I'm getting really emotional talking about uni, actually got tears pricking my eyes.

Have you discovered any great money saving tips?
Money saving. Errr... honestly I'm quite good at saving anyway (unlike my friends)! I'd say plan your meals, find cheap places to go out, cheap booze. And say goodbye to Topshop and hello to car boot sales and charity shops - which are way more fun anyway! Also keep a penny jar - at the end of the year I had £32 in pennies!

What do you do to de-stress?
I took proper breaks with my friends. Left my bedroom and all my study in there and either watched a film or something with my housemates. Or went out to eat with other friends, we went to The Harvester once and it was so nice to properly get out away from studying. Also a lot of rescue remedy, cups of tea and help from a learning support tutor (hello exam anxiety).

What advice would you give to up and coming freshers? 
I really don't know what advice to give as everyone's experience at uni is different. Enjoy it, work hard, but not too hard, drink lots, embrace the hangover and order a lot of Domino's, do crazy things, have lots of movie nights in, find a friend who likes cuddling as well - nothing better than good snuggles when you're feeling down.

And a final note from Amber...
For me, university was exactly what I needed and I'm feeling pretty emotional after writing this. Like I said before I started university my life was in a very bad place, it couldn't have got much worse really. I've suffered from depression since I was 15 and anxiety and panic attacks for around the last two years. I still suffer from them, sometimes it gets really hard to cope but uni gave me something to live for. I was that desperate and I'm sharing this so that anyone who is in a similar position to me, can know that it'll get better. It can still be awful. But I found amazing people, and I couldn't live without them. Portsmouth has opened my eyes and I feel much more alive now.

If you'd like to know anything about Portsmouth University or Amber's course, or ask her any other questions, head on over to her blog! If you have any questions for me, or would like to get involved in either my Freshers End series, or my Over Half Way There series for second years, drop me an email at

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