Uni can often be overhyped. From a young age, we put university on a pedestal and see it as an escape into independence and the beginning of adulthood. For those of us who have strict parents, it’s the beginning of a life without curfews and unfair punishments. For those of us whose school life could have been better, it’s a chance to reinvent yourself and be whoever you want to be. It’s different from the movies and from what we imagine it to be, but it’s definitely worth the excitement: just read these tips before you start and you’ll be good to go.
1. You don’t need half of the things you’ve packed.
This is so important. Before university, I packed twice the amount of clothes I actually ended up wearing, including themed costumes for non-existent events and loads of dresses for balls that wouldn’t even be happening. It is daunting to think that the items we naturally become accustomed to having in our house, such as toilet paper and soap, are all going to be our responsibility at university. But don’t overdo it: you will never use that window cleaner spray.
2. Money – don’t spend it all.
Alcohol and Apple Pay/contactless cards really don’t work well together: I would recommend just bringing some cash into a club. It can often seem amazing to see all this new money come from your student loan but plan out how you’re going to spend it. Think of food, events, clubs, the gym(?), etc. and ration it all out. Trust me, it’s the worst thing to have your card declined or to find yourself in debt in the middle of the month.
3. If you have friends from your old school, try not to use them as your safety blanket.
It’s so great to have someone from your old school, whether that’s a friend or a boyfriend/girlfriend, going to the same uni as you. But, before university it’s a good idea to make a pact with one another to try to not see each other, so that you can create your identity as an individual. However much the temptation is, don’t limit yourself to only hanging out with your one friend. It’s important that you both branch out and make friends separate of one another. You really have to throw yourself into Freshers’ and have people know you for you. After Freshers’, you’ll be able to meet all the great people your friend has made friends with and broaden your friendship circle!
4. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t like your flat mates.
One of the most cliché beliefs and presumptions that people make before heading off to university, is that their flat mates will turn out to be life-long friends. It is true that some people click with their flat mates more than others, but it is entirely normal to find that you may have quite a lot of differences. Lots of students end up making the mistake of settling with their flat, thereby confining their friendship circles. Yes, it would probably be a good idea to go out with your flat on your very first night to get an idea of who you’re going to be living with for the rest of the year, but it’s so crucial to have that time away from your flat mates and really push yourself to make friends outside of where you’re living. You may find some really great people who are more similar to you. University is all about getting to know a vast, diverse amount of people, so embrace it!
5. Don’t be a sheep: do what you want to do.
For me, this is the most important piece of advice. Remember that university is all about discovering your passions and finding out exactly who you are. If I could give myself advice a year ago, I would tell myself to stop going to events and stop joining societies that my friends were all taking part in. I had been too scared to face new people alone and so I wasn’t able to take part in things that would have really interested me. It’s incredibly terrifying, but it’s super important to take part in societies you want to go to, regardless of its popularity or how many of your friends are going to it.
6. Yes, you have freedom. Yes, you can drink. But don’t overdo it.
It’s a lovely thought to be able to go home absolutely smashed, and not have to worry about anyone discovering you. Some people, including myself, have taken this thought too far: you know you’ve done it wrong when the Estate Patrol has to pick you up in the middle of the road, passed out in your flat mate’s arms. It’s really not worth it, and it’s quite embarrassing to be completely off your face, especially when you’re meeting people for the first time or just getting to know them.
7. Sex: dos and don’ts
So obviously the most important advice I’d give is please, do not sleep with your flat mate. It’s not going to work out, it’s going to be awkward, and you’re going to cause drama in your halls. If, dear lord, you decide to get in a relationship with them and things don’t go to plan, you are going to be dealing with a very messy year. Speaking of relationships, Freshers’ is not the best time to be looking for one. Everyone is trying to meet as many people as possible, and most people are really initially just interested in sex. Just have fun and remember to use protection!
8. There will be times where you’re alone. And it’s completely fine.
It’s okay to miss home and your friends. It’s surreal to wake up and find yourself in a completely new room, and even in a completely new place. After coming back from a busy day and going back to your empty room, sometimes the reality of living this completely new life can be overwhelming. However, occasionally, sparing time to yourself is necessary. Just don’t spend it using social media to compare your Freshers’ week to your friends’ – it never goes well, and it’s stupid: snapchat stories and instagram posts are usually an inaccurate, warped representation of real life.
9. You will get Freshers flu. So be prepared.
Everyone is going to get it. It sucks and it’s inevitable: take some Panadol or Strepsils with you from home and you’ll thank yourself later. So will your friends.