Heading off to university, especially when you’re doing it internationally, is an exciting but scary time. Universities across the world work hard to build excellent support networks for their students, and an important part of that at many places is the link between you and your tutor. Often, the tutor you are allocated will teach you a class, which means that it is even more important to befriend them. Not only will they be a guiding and supporting force for you while you settle in, but they will also be imparting their expert knowledge to help you get the best grades you can. This week, I’m recollecting my experience befriending my tutor when I headed off to university - and giving you all my tips and tricks to make sure that you become the best of friends within just a few weeks.
The first hurdle in befriending your tutor is finding them. This seems silly at first, and honestly it depends on the university, but they will probably have an office in a slightly obscure building on campus. My tutor was hidden in the depths of a sprawling historical building - the first time I attempted to find her office, I didn’t write down the room number and managed to get lost in the building. It was pretty funny at the time, but looking back, being an hour late to our first meeting wasn’t the first impression I wanted to make! Planning your route to classes is something that is always encouraged, but planning your route to your tutor’s office in case you need them is equally as important.
If there’s a book or an article, read it
Most tutors are also academics in your field, which means they inevitably will have (and be constantly) producing a wealth of articles and books about important things going on in your field. Reading some of their work is important to understanding not only how they prioritise (which helps when you’re producing things they mark - trust me) and also means that you have a better understanding of the research going on in your field. Tutors are an accessible wealth of information - this way, if you have any questions you can ask them personally and without other students. That’s an opportunity you should make the most of while under their guidance.
Don’t be afraid to see them
Sometimes it’s easy to be intimidated by the reputation of one of your Professors or tutors. Remember, they’re people too - many of them will understand the challenges you’re facing and will be able to direct you to the right place if they can’t personally support you. Most of the time, they’ll be able to help, so try not to be scared to seek them out when you need them.
Bring a surprise gift
My favourite thing to do when meeting a new tutor is to bring a homemade gift. Making something (in my case usually food) that reflects your personality or home culture is a great way to bond. You’ll probably spend quite a bit of time with your tutor over the year (or years) you’re under their wing, so investing in a small token of appreciation is always worthwhile. You can bring it to your first meeting with them, or alternatively leave it at their office with a note - providing you with the perfect excuse to find their office for the first time without the pressure of time!
Remember, most importantly, to be yourself. Your tutor’s job is to help you settle and flourish in your new home and they form an important part of the support network at university. By being honest with them about your worries, concerns and fears, they can help put your mind at ease - and also help to make sure you have all the support you need to do the best you can at university. They also have brilliant tips and tricks for places to eat, learn and study on campus (often they’ve been at the university for a long time)!