Thursday, 23 August 2012

My tips for those going to University for the first time.

I am a recent graduate [for the second time] who has completed two degrees which meant that I had two first time experiences at University as my degrees were in two different locations.  For me I was actually more nervous the second time around as I had spent three years at my first university where I had made wonderful friends and made many unforgettable memories. I was conscious that I would be a lot older than those living in halls second time around and worried that my experience second time around  wouldn’t match up to my first. I shouldn’t have been worried as I had a great time and have made many friends and created lots more unforgettable memories. For me both experiences were completely different, which is only natural as I had done a lot of growing up throughout my first degree and entered my second degree more grown up and more focused on my degree as I was very focused on starting my desired career. So as the new batch of students are getting ready to begin another chapter in their lives by going to university I thought I would share some helpful tips that will hopefully prove useful to some of you reading this. So grab yourself a cuppa and enjoy as this post is gonna be a long one.


Making Friends And Trying New Things:

First off, fear not. You may feel like you will never make friends and may fear that you will remain alone-this will not happen, after all we are all the makers of our own destiny. This feeling may be more evident in those who didn’t have a great experience at school/college or who may be moving to a university where none of their friends are going. When going to university for the first time I didn’t know a soul and tbh now I’m kind of glad I didn’t as I found that my friends who moved away together clung together and didn’t make as many ‘new’ friends. It is important to remember that everyone is in the same position as yourself and will be having the same worries as you. I’ll never forget saying goodbye to my family and closing the door behind them and looking around at the three strange faces looking back at me and thinking ‘oh crap.’ On first impressions none of the girls looked like my type and I thought I wouldn’t get on with them, how wrong was I. I am still very good friends with them to this day and even lived with one of them for three years. We were sat in our kitchen on the first night feeling slightly awkward when I came up with the idea of knocking on everyone’s door to say hello and introduce ourselves-best thing we could have done as we got to meet others from our courses and arranged to meet and walk to class together for the first day. The knocking on doors resulted in a huge party in ours where we stayed up until 6am having ‘the crack’ as we say here, and the rest in history. So don’t be afraid to be bashful, go knock on doors and introduce yourself.  Also another way to meet people is freshers week, it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and join in the activities offered. I strongly recommend trying new things as it’s a fun way to meet new people; I joined in the hip hop dancing, belly dancing and fencing clubs and had an absolute ball even though I was rubbish at all three.

Shopping And Money:

Don’t go mad on buying things for the house. Wait until you see what others have brought with them and they you can all chip in and get the rest or divide it amongst you on who buys what. Buy cheap as you don’t want to spend lots on stuff in case it gets ruined. There are always cheap household stuff in September and October as shops purposely aim their market at students around this time of year. I strongly suggest that you invest in a decent clothes rack for drying your clothes in your room as this will last you throughout your whole time at university and beyond. Ear plugs are also handy for those evenings where you want to block out noise. A printer is also a good investment as you will save so much more money in the long run as University can charge 5p for a sheet of paper and there are always queue’s at the printer. Argos always do good printer deals for around 25-30quid.

Clothes wise, I wouldn’t suggest rushing out and buying loads of clothes as in early October [normally when loans are in] many shops like DV8, Topshop, New Look etc will offer 15% and 20% student discount. Even keep your eyes peeled for student discounts in stores such as River Island that normally don’t offer discount as they will normally have a weekend where they will offer student discount, they will time this for when loan payments are in. So save your pennies for then. I also recommend that you don’t go mad on your loan. Remember its real money that you will have to pay back so make it stretch as nothing worse than having no money and all your friends are off out doing fun things.

 I recommend that you bring clothes that are easily washed and dried. Some clothes for both day and night. It would be good to have lots of basics that can be dressed up or down. Plain tops are great for this and mean that you can create lots of different looks without looking like your wearing the same thing all the time. I would also recommend you bring some sport/gym gear for activities that you may partake in. Bring any Halloween costumes or fancy dress outfits that you own as there will be many themed nights out. Popular ones are school discos, beach parties, pub golf, tennis hoes and pros and Greek themes. Flip-flops are also great to bring as it’s more than likely you will have a communal shower. Also a hanging shower caddy is great as you can take it to the shower with you to carry all your essentials in. Another alterative if the shower is only used by a small number of people is to buy a cheap plastic drawer set or vegetable rack to store your shower stuff on. Each person can take a shelf or drawer to keep their stuff in. I also recommend that you bring a something to keep your dirty washing in as you may have to use communal washer and dryers and want something to carrying your washing in.  I would suggest for those who will have communal bills such as electric or heating bills to divide the bills equally. I wouldn’t recommend taking it turns to pay the bills as I have seen this cause arguments so it’s probably best to all put a fiver in a kitty every month etc to pay for bills. It’s probably also worth buying some food items together such as basics like milk, bread, butter etc as fridge space is limited and its pointless to  have four loaves of bread for four people. Also take full advantage of your student card for example if you produce your student card in McDonalds when buying a meal you can get a free McFlurry, cheese/hamburger or fries.


Now onto safety, prepare for a lecture. Most universities would provide students with welcome packs where there will be lots of information-do read this, there are usually free condoms contained within this pack and they are often hanged out during fresher week. I would suggest that you keep a stash of condoms in your room and some in your handbag in case you find yourself in that situation-after all its better to be safe than sorry. Please be drink smart, do not get yourself in risky situations and do not wander off drunk alone as you are only making yourself more vulnerable. Personal alarms are often handed out in fresher’s week, grab yourself one and carry it in your bag. They are small and take up little room in your bag but could save you from an awful situation. Always make sure someone knows where you are going and when you should be expected to return. I also strongly recommend keeping money in your phone and keeping your phone charged.


Other tips:

You may not get on with everyone you meet but the good thing is unlike school you are not forced to spend all your time with those whose company you don’t particularly enjoy. A top tip I have is to always keep a spare loo roll hidden in your room. Believe me a time may come where you will need it. For those who worry about using shared loos especially where #2’s are concerned I would suggest bringing incense sticks with u to the toilet and light it to well you know,lol. Just remember to blow it out and take it back to your room with you if you don’t want anyone to know what you’ve been doing. Compile a first aid kit with plasters, Imodium, headache tablets etc as this kit will come in handy. Do gather up taxi numbers and take away menus and pin them to a board or the fridge. If in a new area I strongly recommend that you put a few taxi numbers in your phone in case you ever get stuck. It may be a good idea to have an emergency taxi fund hidden in the flat in case you get stuck and need a taxi home but have no money in your purse. Means you can run to the flat/house and get the fare from the kitty-just remember to replace any money you take out. Any snacks and drinks you do not want to risk getting eaten or drunk by others especially by those who get a dose of the munchies after a night out or want to party on I would suggest keeping this in your room. I also suggest locking your bedroom door. There will often be parties where there will be ‘randomers’ if you want to prevent your stuff being stolen then lock your room door-simples. I would also suggest making up house rules once you get to know each other better and regular house meetings is a good way to air any concerns and prevent avoidable bitching sessions or bust ups. To avoid arguments it would also be a good idea to draw up a cleaning rota. I would also suggest that you learn how to wash and iron and get someone to show you how to cook a few meals if you don’t already know how to.

Finally do try and stay on top of your university work and attend class. Make sure you look into what classes are compulsory as you don’t want your university experience to end due to missing compulsory classes. After all you have put the hard work in to get here. If you are struggling with university work then speak up. Go and speak with a lecturer after all that’s what they are there for. But you are seen as an adult now as are expected to speak up about such things whereas in school the teachers came to you if they thought something was up. If you are struggling with any other problems such as relationships, sexual health, money etc there are support systems in University to help you, no one will want you to struggle.

Finally enjoy every minute as take it from me the time flies. So buckle up and enjoy the journey.

I hope this was helpful.


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