Chereen Francis-Roberts Written by

1st year

BA (Hons) Computer Animation Arts

Starting university can be very overwhelming, especially as you’re absorbing so much information to do with so many different things. It can be a bit of a sensory overload and figuring things out as a fresher can be tricky.

Here are 5 things that will hopefully make your first term of uni go that extra bit smoother.

Start your assignments ASAP!

For the love of all that is good, start your assignments as soon as you get them. I know pizza, parties, building pillow forts and going Lollipop are excellent pastimes, but I think avoiding any kind of stress induced mental breakdowns towards deadlines means not leaving your assignment till the last minute is essential.

Start now and get it out the way. I’m not saying don’t have fun, but plan your time wisely. If you’re really feeling pizza, bring the party to the labs and you can bond with your friends while that ambient occlusion pass is rending…for 14 hours…


Join a Society or two

Even if it’s halfway through the term, join a society. You’ll get to meet awesome people, learn a new skill (be it a language or sport). Being an animation student can sometimes leave you in an animation orientated social bubble, being in a society can help you to expand it. Joining a society and going to an event every week helped to pull me out of the working mind set and made uni feel less like just a study space. It can be really refreshing to meet new people in an environment aside from lectures and lab sessions and also, it’s a great way to broaden your perspective on things whilst having fun.



Being cooped up in the computer labs all day is never too good for you, so learn to take a breather. Whether it’s finding a place that does crazy good coffee, or exploring the natural beauty that Dorset has to offer, use that free bus pass while you can and do some exploring. Find out if anything interesting is happening in Bournemouth or the surrounding areas, be it going to an Independent film festival, visiting Corfe Castle or a going cycling with some friends in New Forest. You’ll make some great memories and you’ll get to know the local area and communities better.


Don’t be shy! Talk to your peers.

The joy of having 3 different strands of the animation course (although seeing someone from SDAGE is as rare as seeing a unicorn) is that you can learn a lot of new things from each other and get new perspectives and inspiration. Nerd out with one another, talk to everyone, laugh with each other. You’ll find that you’ll not only make some valuable friends, but that they’ll also be the people you may be working with in industry once you start your career.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask them questions. I can’t tell you how many times in my first term I was stuck in front of a computer for 2-3 hours trying to figure something out in Autodesk Maya, only for it to be solved by a peer within 5 minutes of bashfully asking for help.

It’s good to be curious and learn how to figure things out yourself, but if something is taking up a lot of your time to fix, just ask!

Perfectionism isn’t everything.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to get that crispy first and be fired up to do anything to achieve it. Sometimes you’ll find that this approach may be counterproductive.

Don’t stress about trying to make things perfect, if anything, make mistakes, and make lots of them. First year is like a trial period where you can figure things and learn what works best for you out without being penalised. By all means aim for that first, but don’t panic if things don’t go well or stress about the little things. It’s okay to make mistakes, and sometimes you’ll find that you’ll learn a lot more from them in the long run.

And so there you have it! Hopefully this helps all you fresh-faced freshers out there. Here’s to a good first term at Bournemouth University!

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