I am very close to finishing my first year as a university student, so I thought what better way to celebrate this than writing a blog post about my top tips on surviving your year as a University Fresher.
Unfortunately, you can’t choose who you live with in your first year at university if you have chosen to stay in halls. Yes, you can usually choose which type of accommodation you would like, such as ensuite, single, self-catered or catered, but your actual flatmates may not be everything you’d hoped. When you arrive at university, there’s a chance that you’re going to have to re-adapt pretty quickly if you want to survive. Firstly, be prepared for sleepless nights, especially if you’re not used to living with lots of other loud people. I’m from Devon, so I’m quite used to the quiet life, and when I first moved into halls, it was a bit of a shock to realize just how loud everyone was, and that doesn’t just include my floor. I am used to it now, so don’t worry, it won’t be all bad!
Secondly, a lot of people are really lucky when it comes to getting along with their flatmates, but don’t be surprised if you’re not getting along with yours. That also happens to a lot of people. My one big tip on getting over this is to join at least one society, and/or make friends with people on your course. If you do this, then there’s less chance of you being lonely because you don’t want to talk to your flatmates, and it also give you a chance to get out more and experience different things with different people.
Fresher’s is the perfect time to sign up to activities and societies you are, or think you might be interested in. Definitely sign up for as many as possible on the day, and then go to a couple of sessions which really interest you and then decide if it’s for you or not. I mean, I did freaking Ultimate Frisbee for a whole semester, and I can’t even catch a ball properly! If you’re fairly shy, then you can ask your flatmates to come with you to Fresher’s Fayre or even the society you’ve joined. But if you don’t get along with your flatmates and you don’t like doing new things on your own, the only piece of advice I have is just go to one session, and see how it is. If you really don’t like it, you don’t have to go back. If you feel like you’ve embarrassed yourself, don’t worry! There isn’t a massive chance of them remembering who you are if you’ve just turned up to one session at the beginning of the year.
If you think of yourself as a social butterfly, and meeting new people doesn’t worry you in the slightest, then that’s great. But just remember, that the first person you meet at university may not turn out to be your BFF. I remember meeting a girl in the toilets on my first day, and I can’t even remember her name now. It sounds bad, and horrible, I know. But with time, you’ll meet people you truly get along with, whether it’s your flatmates, classmates, or friends you’ve made through societies. As I said, classes and societies are a great way of meeting new people, and not just those who are your age. Sometimes you get people who have been on a gap year, or have applied to university later, and with societies you can become best friends with people in their second or third year.
Alternatively, you can get a job. It doesn’t matter where it is, whether it’s on or off campus, but this is another way of meeting people outside of the university, and you’re also getting money. It’s usually advised that as a first year, you don’t get a job in your first term of university, because you’re still settling in, but at the end of the day it’s all about how comfortable you feel about it.
Money becomes a very important matter when you become a student. As much fun as it is going out with your new friends, going out too often does affect your bank account in a bad way. If you find yourself going out too much, and you want to save money, try limiting yourself to only going out once a week, or only buying a couple of drinks when you arrive, or only going to parties you think you’d actually enjoy.
I know parties aren’t for everyone, and even for those who don’t go out, money can be an issue. If you’re in self-catered accommodation, try and make sure that when you do your weekly shop (if that’s what you choose to do), then try shopping at cheaper supermarkets. In the UK this includes places like Iceland, Asda, and Lidl, but it really depends on where you are and what’s available. Try looking for things which are discounted, and look for the best value. Sometimes, the Tesco’s Value milk may not have the standards you are used to, but you are trying to save yourself some money, so is it really the end of the world?
This is something a lot of students have to deal with. If you know that you are going to miss your family at home in Devon when you’re thinking about studying in Edinburgh, then maybe consider studying closer to home. You shouldn’t want to go as far away from home as possible just because you want to look hardcore. You should only choose a university based on the course and whether or not you can see yourself living and studying there for at least three years.
If you do find yourself feeling homesick, you can travel back home on weekends (but if you take the train, remember that it can be quite expensive, even if you have a discount card!), or if it’s too late to go home, then you can always call people at home, Skype them, or simply message them on Facebook. Adapting to university life is hard for everyone, so there is no shame in shutting yourself in your room for an evening and talking to the people you miss, whether it’s friends or family.
Just try not to drink away your problems. That never works.
So those are my tips for being a fresher! I hope this was useful for those of you who are thinking of going to university this year/next year. If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below!