I’m sat on the sofa, just started summer break, watching Friends with my cats by my side, and I’ve decided to start a series about University.
Around this time last year, I had finished my A-Levels and received an unconditional offer to study history. Of course, this somewhat relieved my worries as I was no longer dependent on my grades. However, I was stressing about other things.
What will I need? Will I make friends? What will it be like living away from home? How much money will I have?
I’m now at the end of first year, ready to start second year and feel that I’m in a position that I could give advice on how to deal with this. Hopefully, this post will give you some tips for starting University and calming the nerves in the months before you leave.
My first tip is to plan! I’m naturally a very organised person – my life consists of long to-do lists and endless post-it notes. This came in handy before Uni more than ever before. I wrote a list of everything I would need – kitchen, bedroom and bathroom items, when I needed to be packed by, when I was leaving. Grab a notebook or some paper and write a list of everything you need and plan out your timings. This made things a bit more certain during a time of uncertainty and I highly recommend doing this!
Research, research, research! Unlike I did, you probably don’t need to do hours and hours of research. However, a quick google search of cafes or shops around campus, any freshers events you may want to attend or looking at train or bus timetables can be really handy. Most universities provide a guide to first year, at least mine did, but finding out some extra info wouldn’t go amiss!
Be confident. I know this sounds very general, a bit cliché perhaps, and definitely a very basic statement. However, I found it SO important. I’m not really a naturally confident person but when I started University, I found this key to making friends. Introducing yourself to your flatmates (if you’re living in halls) is vital as its likely they’ll be the first people you meet and make friends with. After that, I started to make friends by talking to people whilst queuing for events, going to introductory sessions for societies and chatting to people attending the same lectures as me. Also, if you’re feeling nervous, everyone else is feeling the same. Once you chat to someone new for the first time, it definitely gets easier and you’ll be making friends in no time.
For this tip, I am speaking from personal experience and it may not be for everyone. Being away from home, especially if it’s quite far away, is pretty daunting! Although it may be tempting, I wouldn’t suggest going home straight away. When my family left and I was in my room alone, I really wanted to go home. But, I stuck it out and stayed and ended up not going home for the whole semester! Obviously, I kept in touch with family through FaceTime but this distance was so helpful for getting used to life in halls. This may not be beneficial for everyone but I personally found that waiting it out allowed me to feel comfortable quicker.
For me, money was one of my biggest worries. I got the lowest maintenance loan for living in halls (which all went on my accommodation due to a mistake I made – make sure you sort out your finance BEFORE applying and accepting an offer on expensive accommodation. Oops!) but I luckily had some savings and the generous help of family to get me through first year. But I still had to budget. I would suggest working out how much money you will have for each month and divide this up among what you will have to spend, considering food shops, laundry, nights out, study supplies and any extras. Doing this means that you will be prepared for the costs Uni involves so when you start, you will have a plan.
These are the most important tips I can think of for the months running up to the start of university and those first days. These helped to put my mind at ease and prepare me for the big change! I hope they help you, too.
Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or further advice for others!