Starting university in September? Here is a list of some things that you should know before you get there. You’re welcome.
1. The friends you make in your halls probably won’t be your best friends for the rest of uni
I met my best friend because he went to school with a girl in my uni flat. I’m not in contact with anyone I lived with in my first year but I met a lot of awesome people through them! Network! Get out there! None of the really good friends I made were in my halls or on my course. Freshers week is the time to meet all these random people you wouldn’t meet otherwise, and who knows, you may end up with an amazing best friend because of it!
Sub-Editor’s note: If you’re looking to make friends, we’ve put together some of the best advice on the web here:
2. If you can’t see yourself marrying your boy/girlfriend from home, then end it
It may seem harsh, but it’s true. You’re going to be at uni for three to four years. You will feel tied down if you stay in a relationship. Plus, with all of the new people you’re going to meet, you could end up meeting someone you really connect with. If you really do love them though, maybe you should stay with them. Just think about it before you go.
3. You’ll feel a little homesick
Unless you have no soul, it’s normal to feel homesick. For most people, this is the first time you will be away from home and needing to be so independent. But trust me, after the first day or two, you’ll be too busy with all your new friends to be homesick. If you do still feel a little sad at times though, your friends and family are only a phonecall or Skype chat away and they can come and visit. Remember to take some photos or something that reminds you of them!
4. Learn to manage your money
I learnt this the hard way! Unless you are lucky enough to land a part-time job or have parents that can help you out, you need to try and make whatever you get from your loan last for 12 weeks! Budget! Figure out how much you can spend in a week on food and social things. Try and budget it so that you have a bit left over towards the end of term to go towards Christmas gifts, a big night out with your friends before you go home for a few weeks or just to treat yourself and get that rad jacket you’ve had your eye on.
Info on debt, budgeting, savings, benefits, insurance, homes… the lot:
5. Don’t buy the textbooks!
It will save you a lot of money and you should be able to find the required reading in the library or online. I didn’t buy a single book at uni and I still managed to read what I needed to. You’re also only likely to read a chapter or two from each of the books that you are recommended to buy.
6. Don’t procrastinate as much as you want to
You’ll have a lot of social things taking up time and a lot of days you’ll just want to stay in bed with junk food and Netflix, especially if it is raining. But, I really suggest doing something most days, even if it is just reading something or making a ‘to do’ list. You don’t want to have to start your essay the night before it is due. Trust me!
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7. Respect the door staff at clubs
I was pretty good at clubs, never caused trouble. Often… And I actually had a good relationship with a few of the regular security at some of the clubs and bars that we went to. If you get on their good side, you’ll be grateful if you get into trouble and need their help. At the end of the day (or night, hah!), they are there to make sure you have a fun and safe evening – they don’t want to spoil your night unless you make the mistake of getting their attention!
8. Try not to hook up with people in your flat
Hooking up with someone you live with during freshers week and then having to awkwardly pass them in the hallways for the rest of the year won’t be fun. Starting a relationship can work out but a one-night stand is not the best idea.
9. Try and eat well
You’re going to want to eat rubbish, and that’s fine, but try and keep it to hangover days in bed, lazy days watching films, etc. You can eat healthily on a budget, sometimes it’s cheaper, especially if you make your own food! (Invest in a student cookbook!)
10. Cheap isn’t always good
You may find a student house for your second year that has really cheap rent or a second-hand car that doesn’t cost a lot. Do your research before signing anything or parting with any cash. Sometimes, it’s better to spend a little bit more and have something decent as a result. You don’t want to end up living in a house with damp and mould for a year or buying a car that breaks down on the first day and costs hundreds to repair!
11. Sleep, study, party. Pick TWO
You’ll struggle to try and do all three. If you only party occasionally, can run off caffeine or are good at cramming, then you may be able to pull it off, but it won’t be easy.
12. Naps are your best friend
Make the most of being able to nap. Once you graduate and get a real job, this will become a very rare luxury. Plus, if you’re trying to study and party a lot, you’ll want to nap any chance that you get.
13. You can create your own society
When you get to uni and go to the freshers fayre, there will be a LOT of societies trying to get you to sign up. It’s better to sign up to too many rather than not enough, as you can always take yourself off the emailing list if you change your mind. If you can’t find a society that’s right for you or you want to join one but they don’t have the one you want there, make your own! You are able to create your own society at all universities in the UK and most are really helpful in helping you start one up. They always look really good on your CV, especially if you are a founding member 😉
14. Always ask if there is student discount
Always. A lot of high street shops and restaurants offer 10-20%. What’s the point in being a student if you can’t get cheaper/discounted things, huh? Your bank account will thank you.
15. If you miss a lecture, it isn’t the end of the world
Obviously, I’m not advocating skipping class. But, at the end of the day, you aren’t in compulsory education anymore and it’s your money that you waste if you don’t attend. However, most courses will put the PowerPoint online for you to catch up with and you can always ask to borrow a friend’s notes (be kind and offer yours if they ever miss a lecture, too!) So, if you wake up feeling unwell, hungover or just reallllllly lazy, don’t fret. Just don’t make it a habit.
16. Start looking for a place to live before Christmas
All the good ones will be gone, if you don’t start your search until after Christmas! If you want a good house or flat for second year, decide who you’re going to live with and get looking ASAP! I’d also advise getting a place with no more than four or five people sharing otherwise it will be really messy and there will always be that one housemate who comes home at some stupid hour and wakes everyone up. Just try and find some like-minded people who want the same kind of lifestyle as you and you’ll be good.
17. Try and keep your place as tidy as possible
Flies, maggots, mice and rats are a real thing. If you don’t keep on top of things, mould will start to grow over washing up and mildew will appear in the bathroom. It’s just plain nasty. You’re a student, it’s unlikely your place will be immaculate, but at least keep it clean and hygienic otherwise you will make yourself and your housemates sick.
Uni is a place where a lot of people will experiment with drugs. Whilst I’m not recommending you try any, I will say this: don’t feel pressured into doing anything you don’t want to. If you do experiment with drugs, be careful. Just because your friend tells you that it is safe, it doesn’t mean it is. More and more drugs get cut with questionable things on the streets these days. Again, I’m not recommending taking drugs in any way, shape or form, but if you do, try and lay off the powders and pills and stick with something a little more natural and do your research before taking anything! You can get advice and information about any questions that you may have at Talk to Frank.
But we do condone honest debate and opinions as a way of all us understanding why and what we are doing and helping young people stay safe.
We’ve listed helplines and information sites that you might need here:
19. Freshers flu is real!
This really is a thing. People coming from all over the country bringing hundreds of different bugs and colds with them and congregating together? You’re gonna get ill. Just make sure to stock up on cold and flu medicines before you get to uni. They will come in super handy!
20. Make a list of things to take with you
Before you start packing, make a list of everything that you need to take with you and tick it off as you pack it.
If you want to take some things that you may not necessarily think of, check out my guide here.
21. Enjoy it!
It sounds cliche, I know, but they really will be the best years of your life. You’ll have some highs and some lows, you’ll meet amazing people and awful people… There will be great photos of you and some really cringey ones after a shot too many of tequila. All of this will shape you into the person you are going to become for the rest of your adult life. You’ll learn a lot of life lessons and meet a crazy bunch of people that you’ll be able to call friends for life. Embrace the good, bad and ugly parts of uni. This is the only time of your life that you’ll get to do the kind of things you’ll end up doing and get away with it.
Is there anything you can think of to add to the list? Anything you wish you’d been told before you went to uni? If you’re starting this year, what are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!
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