Last week, I spent five days living and working in London. I'll tell you all about that in a post next week as well as giving some tips on how to get work experience. For now, we're going back to school. Well, university to be exact.

After a good, seven-hour journey, I arrived back in Exeter yesterday evening. Packing light didn't quite go to plan and the car was absolutely stuffed from seam to seam with kitchenware, clothes and additional decorative things that I deemed absolutely necessary. When I have finally stepped away from Etsy, I will take photos and show you what my room is like.

My version of packing light.

There are plenty of guides to what to pack online and seeing as I am most certainly not an expert on the subject, this post is going to be an open letter to my little sister who is going to university for the first time next weekend. I hope if you're about to head to the confusing yet wonderful world that is university, this will be of some use to you.

Dear Jess,

Take a deep breath. I know that this is probably quite scary, being in a pokey little room, on your own, in a city far away from home... but it will get better, just breathe. If Mum and Dad are flapping around your room, putting things in places you'll forget and shedding the occasional (or frequent) tear about their baby being all grown up, don't be afraid to ask them to leave. They'll come back and take you out for lunch the next day anyway.

Joking aside, although it's quite daunting at first, the best thing to do is to wave them off. They'll know what to do, they've done it all before. Now it's up to you. Prop your bedroom door open whilst you unpack, go and see who's in the kitchen and smile and say hi to them all. You'll find that they're just as nervous and will want to make friends too.

Get them together and go out for a drink one evening or order pizza in and spend some time getting to know each other. Sure, freshers week is all about going out and getting wasted but these are the people you'll be living with for the next year so make an effort to get to know them sober. Or if you really are planning on drinking every night, do it together a couple of times at least!

Before long, you'll be the closest of friends.

There are other ways to meet new people too. There will be loads of events during the first week for you to try out new societies and you should absolutely go for it and try as many different things as possible. They'll help you take advantage of the best things to do in the area too and whilst I know you won't have the beach like we do down here, you have a very famous chocolate factory right on your doorstep (jealous!)

It's good to get out and about and explore the best bits of your new city. After the first couple of days, you'll be running all around town, trying to find the best places to go and eat, shop, eat, hang out and eat. (And maybe study - on that note, check out Boston Tea Party. You will not regret it.) Some societies will even take you further afield (although make sure you're well prepared if heading further north).

It's also important to look after yourself too. Don't take on too much. That's something I'm prone to doing and this year I'm going to try and sit back and leave myself some time to breathe (breathing is good for you, see above). Be kind to yourself and don't stress about things too much. Whatever you're worrying about now won't matter in a month, three months, a year etc. (and first year doesn't count anyway!) Look after your physical health too. There's something called the 'freshers fourteen'. You don't need to worry about this as you're perfectly healthy but it's quite common for students to gain a bit of weight when they first come to university. Enjoy the drinking and the late night takeaways but make sure you get a good bit of home cooking in there too. And eat your vegetables goddammit!

But overall, just make the most of it. I know this might seem rich coming from me as I've not always been able to look at the positive side but I want you to learn from my experience rather than being bound by it. If things don't seem to be going right, there will always be a positive to be found. Every cloud has a silver lining. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Etc. etc. etc. Just keep your chin up in times of difficulty and persevere. Amazing things can come from difficult situations (see the rest of this blog for said amazing-ness) and remember you have a year abroad ahead of you. Go for it and grab every opportunity.

And never underestimate the power of your flatmates at brunchtime.

Loads of love from me, and good luck! 

Lucy xxx

P.S, go out and get drunk sometimes too. Make sure it's like this:

Not like this.