One of the most useful things to do before seeking out a guide or tips on going to university, is to ask yourself: what is it that you want out of uni? Do you want to have a career waiting for you when you finish uni? Do you want to be the President of a society? Do you want to try something new? Do you want to rave with the freshers?
I was asked to make this blog by a student thinking about going to university, and although it was five yours ago when I was a Fresher, I think these general tips will still apply. This guide is built on my experiences from going to uni. I wanted to make friends and enjoy the university lifestyle but first and foremost I wanted to secure a place on a Secondary PGCE History course – which I did! (I am now about to start a Masters). So here are my pearls of wisdom for heading to university. Below you’ll find a shopping/survival kit list.
SOCIETIES – Once you hit Freshers’ Fayre you’re going to want to join every society under the sun because 1. They look cool 2. Your flatmates are and 3. You were awkwardly persuaded. However, I’d advise that you join between 2-4 societies and actually commit to them. I say this because it is impossible to be a committed member of 20 societies or you could be too much of a wimp to actually attend any socials (like I was). I only really committed to societies in my third year (aside from yoga). However, I wish I did from the beginning because it gives you a chance to have fun and share interests with like-minded people. Societies are always looking for new members so don’t worry if you are going to a social alone to begin with!
SCHEDULING – Buy an academic diary! That way you can log important dates/meetings/deadlines/room changes etc. and not have to rely on a course mate. In regards to scheduling, it is difficult to begin with when learning how to plan your time.
That being said, focusing on your grades should be paramount. You may experience some serious FOMO when you miss an opportunity to go to a party with your flatmates, but there will be so many different chances to party throughout your degree.
FOOD – I never understood how people spent so much money on food during uni. I budgeted £15 a week for food shopping. Set time aside (a good hour) to go shopping or alternatively online shop, deciding what you want to eat for the week. Own brand foods like Everyday Value are decent! Remember you’re a ‘struggling student’ Tesco’s finest is probably not best. But please be mindful when buying products like milk, eggs and meat – if you eat them – think about where they come from, they’re cheap but are they cruelty free? In regards to cooking, uni is actually a good opportunity to learn to cook (beans on toast was my forte before going to uni). Student cookbooks are handy, as well as using some easy-to-cook meals like BBC good food One Pot recipes. If in doubt, ask your flatmates if they want share the cooking with you! It wasn’t odd to see photos of flatmates cooking Sunday dinner together.
FRESHERS – Go crazy. Yep. Do it. You’ve worked really hard trying to get into uni, it’s time to have some fun! It’s likely that the whole city has geared itself towards Freshers events as well as your university. Usually universities dedicate 1-2 weeks of Freshers’ events. Get it out of your system now rather than trying to go out several times a week when lectures begin. Just remember to be respectful of your surroundings and other Freshers!
BOOKS – In your first year it’s likely that you will be enrolled onto large compulsory modules; which means that a lot of students are going to want to be getting their hands on the required reading texts. My advice would be once you get the reading list, identify the main books and make a trip to the library to take out the books before they all go.
WORK – The reason I stated in the intro of this blog about thinking what you want out of uni, is because you get out of it what you put in. One of my pet hates is when people graduate and comment “Don’t bother with that degree, it didn’t get me a job.” That’s because you likely did the bare minimum and didn’t put the extra work in to increase your chances of getting one. I’ll be frank, just because you have a degree doesn’t entitle a company to employ you. There is a plethora of work opportunities at university such as volunteer schemes, placements and paid job opportunities like admin, student ambassador roles and casual work in supermarkets etc.
BE YOU – This sounds a bit cliché, but you’d be surprised to see how many people will try and act unlike their usual selves on your first night out. I would love to go back to my first pre-drinks in my flat and be a fly on the wall. It would have made a great social experiment watching the boys trying to ‘out-lad’ each other. If you went to Reading festival or another festival during the summer before uni, award yourself 10+ cool points. The reason I say to be yourself is that I guarantee once Freshers is over and everyone has Fresher’s flu, even the coolest lad or ladette will be wanting some TLC from their parents. It’s good to be yourself from the start and not to try too hard. You may want to be a legend and do the washing-up for everyone but people will take advantage of this! Focus on looking after yourself.
SHOPPING/UNI SURVIVAL KIT:
- Lemsip/berrocca/paracetamols – You will get Fresher’s flu, more than once, keep these handy and you’ll thank me later.
- Sturdy door stop – Sounds odd but if you live in uni accommodation/housing the rooms often have heavy fire doors. You’ll want a door stop for when flatmates pile in your tiny room or decide to have a gathering in the corridor outside your room (it happens, trust.)
- Sticky notes – These were brilliant when annotating books to stick on pages. Different sizes are great!
- Ear plugs – Some flatmates will decide to carry on partying throughout the week and once lectures start, which is really annoying when you have a 9am, but you don’t want to ruffle any feathers = earplugs!
- Hot mug carrier/flask – Super handy to take to lectures when you get up too late and haven’t had your morning tea/coffee.
- Blankets/cwtchy pillows – It’s nice to have some home comforts in your room from home when you’re feeling unwell/a bit homesick.
- Roll up shoes – Girls, these are amazing to keep in your handbag to quickly change into when your heels are absolutely killing your feet on a night out.
- Dry shampoo – Again, you’ve got up too late for a shower. Obviously, you’re going to shower when you come back from lectures…
- Pack of cards – I’ve never seen a pack of cards go so quickly in my life. They will get soaked with alcohol/lost. As a flat, you will need several packs.
- Extension plug/cable – ‘Noooo my phone charger doesn’t reach my bed.’
- Headphones – Noise cancelling if you can afford it.
- Fancy dress – If you have any random dressing up pieces at home, make sure to take them to uni because there will definitely be an event that requires fancy dress.
Thanks so much for reading my blog! Please share/like if you found this helpful or know someone who might find this helpful. Alternatively, other students, I’d love to hear your some of your own tips/experiences of Freshers – comment below! 🙂