If you’re about to start university this September, you may feel a little nervous, but here are a few tips from a girl about to start her final year that will make your first year easier.
- Don’t bring too much stuff
Your first year room will probably be small, and if you try and pack all your stuff in there, it will feel even more cramped. Don’t take your entire wardrobe, you can swap in pieces, especially seasonal ones, when you visit home, take photos, but only a few frames, take fairy lights, only take the amount of non-study books you actually think you’ll read and don’t think you have to cover your room n posters- keeping it minimalist will make it feel bigger.
- In the first few months, hang out in the kitchen
Whatever your halls situation, you’ll most likely have a room and some sort of social space, most likely the kitchen. When you’re trying to make friends, keep doors propped open and spend a lot of time in common areas to try and be more social. Bringing something baked like brownies and/or a toastie maker will help!
- Don’t panic if you don’t get on with the people you’re living with
More often than not, it’s luck of the drawer, and while some people immediately click with their house/flat/corridor mates, you might not! Don’t panic! There are so many places you can make friends and trust me as long as you’re not really really nasty, you WILL make friends! There are societies, course mates, church friends etc. I met someone when my bag handle got caught on a door and I flew backwards into her and she’s one of my closest friends I’ve met at uni!
- Try not to church hop
This can be tough, because you might worry you’ve missed out, but no church is perfect and you can sometimes miss out on events or meeting people if you’re at a different church every Sunday. Persevering in your faith can be tricky when you move away, so finding a church community is super important. If you go to one and it feels like you’re meeting people, the teaching is good and you feel comfortable there, just stay! You don’t have to try out every single church, and if it ends up not being the right place for you, you can move on, but church hopping might not be a great idea if you want to really settle somewhere.
Lots of people will tell you that first year doesn’t count so you shouldn’t bother. Having that ease of pressure is great, and the fact that it doesn’t count can and should be a bit of a relief, but don’t take it as an opportunity to slack. First year can be a time to get to grips with a new academic style, whatever you’re studying, the jump from A-Levels is big, so it’s a good idea to get feedback on work you’ve actually put some time into, understand how to research and reference properly, get to grips with essay writing at a higher level and figure out what resources, like the library or support from your professors, are available to you.
- Join a society, but not all of them!
There are so many societies at any university, so there will definitely be something that interests you. There will probably be a freshers fair at some point, which is a great chance to look around and decide what sort of thing you might like to get involved in. However, no matter how much of a keen bean you are, don’t sign up to everything. Check time commitments, but 1 or 2 should be enough. If you only have a few societies, it means you can really commit and get to know people. It also means that if in your 2nd or 3rd year you want to run for committee or go for first team, people know your face and know that you’re committed to that society/sports team.
- Don’t panic about housing
People will freak you out by starting to talk about who they’re living with/where they’re gonna live in November. DON’T panic if you have no clue yet. There are ALWAYS houses and there are ALWAYS people to live with or rooms to rent. Don’t just grab the first people you’ve met. If you get on with the people you live with, that’s great, it’s good to know that you work well as a house. But if not, there are so many people in your shoes and believe me, you will find a living situation.
- Don’t buy everything
Oh man you are gonna be so poor. But don’t worry, pretty much everyone is! Don’t blow your student loan in the first month, definitely don’t buy all your course books full price within the first week. You can normally get them from the library, or students from older years will be selling them cheaply. Try and keep a vague eye on money. It is tricky being financially independent for the first time, and don’t beat yourself up if you’re in your overdraft, but try and keep debt to a minimum. Creating financial goals for yourself is good i.e. “This year I’m going to save £200 for my holiday”, “This year I’m going to pay off my overdraft”.
- Learn some staple recipes
If you’re practically Delia Smith and you can’t wait to cook up a storm then you go girl! But, if you’re anything like me and don’t know a taurine from a tuna, then you might want to avoid eating slightly dodgy spaghetti for a week. Meal planning is KEY. Write down what you’re going to eat (especially for dinner) that week, shop from that list and cook from recipes. Pinterest, BBC GoodFood and the TESCO magazine all have great recipes in them, and try to eat vegetables on occasion and not just frozen kebabs!!
- If you need help, ask.
Uni is flipping amazing. It is also flipping difficult. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Call your mum or your mentor or your best friend, ask the university for academic support, use the wellbeing services or the financial advice service that your uni should have for you, pray a lot! It might feel like you’re meant to set up this whole new life for yourself in a new place and have the best years ever, but if it all goes wrong, there are so many options for you, and if it just feels like a struggle, there are so many places you can turn to for help, don’t be afraid to do so!