10 things I wish I'd known as a Fresher
University is an experience like no other; remembering the strategically economic ways of living life to the full while on a student budget will always bring a smile to any graduate's face. Similarly, living with your closest friends will prove to you that life at university is much of the time 100mph, and that cheese is actually rather expensive.
But, these are all lessons we learned along the way - and some were pretty tough lessons at the time. However, from those now on the other side of the first year at university, we thought we would share some first-hand advice to anyone starting the experience this year. Think of it as a free upgrade in tackling this whole new life stage, one that we were not privileged enough to gain access to and so made all the rookie mistakes you SHOULD be able to avoid after reading this. Most of the time. You’re welcome, people.
1. It’s completely and utterly okay to feel not okay for the first day or two.
Okay, so you have arrived at your halls, your parents have just left you, it may have been an emotional goodbye and you’re trying to keep calm and not freak out about the fact you have traded your former life/friends/job/comforts/pet behind to live on pasta and share a bathroom with strangers. You find yourself wanting to cry and run. That is completely normal. Everyone – and I literally mean everyone – is feeling the same. But just roll with it, it's okay to feel a bit nervous, but don’t let it take over the experience entirely. And as much as you may want to, don't run home and try and stick with it! The first few days are always the hardest.
2. The people you meet on Day 1 are not necessarily going to be your friends.
So, your flatmates are not your cup of tea. But you are sat there trying to convince yourself that you can be life-long friends. Don’t do this. University is a hub of meeting new people everyday – you will meet people through Halls, lectures, friends of friends, nights out… the list goes on. Don't panic if you haven't found 'your people' yet - you will!
3. Do not get carried away with your first inheritance of your student loan.
We’ve all been there. The pound signs start flashing as soon as you receive that first chunk of money, and your bank account has arguably never looked healthier. But LISTEN UP FOLKS, AND LISTEN GOOD. This money can very quickly be wasted away – and has to last you until the next term. That’s a long time, especially if you aren’t in employment whilst at uni. So hold your horses and budget before you blow it all.
4. Order your food shopping online.
If possible, do not make the mistake of getting a bus to the nearest large supermarket, going around every aisle, filling up the trolley, spending 4x what was planned to then complete the worst part of this awful trip by lugging it home. So many bags. So little strength. Order online! Not only does this help with budgeting, but it is delivered to your door. Thank us later.
5. Buy a dressing gown.
This is probably going to be the best investment you will make whilst at uni. Need the closest thing you can get to a hug? Put your dressing gown on. Want to slip into the comfiest thing you own? Put your dressing gown on. Cold? Put your dressing gown on. Want to sneak to the kitchen for midnight snacks? Put your dressing gown on. Nipping outside briefly? DRESSING GOWN.
6. Get involved with Fresher’s events.
It sounds like a cliché, but Fresher’s events are the helping hand you need to get out there, meet new people and have a great Fresher’s week. By going to your Fresher’s Fair, you can join societies on-campus and find out what social events are lined up for the week.
7. Don’t plan to go home for a little while.
As tempting as it may be at 8am when you need to wait 3 hours for your turn to use the shower, resist the urge to book a home journey. This isn’t us advising you to stay at uni until the summer, but for your first 2-3 weeks try to stay within the uni environment. This will help you settle in so much quicker, trust us.
8. Make your uni room yours.
Let’s face it – the room you will be in for the next year will be your new home away from home. You may not be able to paint it, but buy fairy lights, wall posters or hangings, lamps, photos, cushions galore. Go crazy. Get your room looking Oh So Pinterest. If anything is going to make you feel more at home, it’s going to be having a homey room!
9. Get a railcard/coachcard/NUS card
Okay so when you do go home for the term holidays and for visits, you’re going to need to budget your travel. And if you chose a uni that is far away from home, travel can really start to add up. So make sure you get a railcard or coach-card ahead of going to uni. And as for the NUS card – picture that you have become a VIP in most high-street stores and restaurants. This is how the NUS card makes you feel.
10. Try in your first year.
It is no secret that for a lot of undergraduate courses, your first year’s grades contribute nothing to your overall degree. Which leads most students to realise they can get away with doing the bare minimum to obtain just over 40% across the whole year. This is logical thinking on the surface, but some lecturers will argue that your first year is most important – it is where you gain fundamental understanding of the basics of your course. So get in the zone early, and put yourself in amazing stead for second year.