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As a recent (almost) graduate, I thought I’d reflect on my three years at University by talking about some of the things you need to know before starting University.
I know that for those who will be starting University in September, things are going to look very different. But whatever shape your University experience takes, these pointers would definitely have helped me when I was moving out three years ago!
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Things you need to know before starting University: Overview
- You don’t need to pack everything
- You don’t always meet your best friends in freshers
- Cooking is hard!
- Practice a good work/life balance
- Food is more expensive than you think
You don’t need to pack everything
This is good advice whatever your plans for next year. Moving into a new place can be daunting- especially if you’ve always lived in the same place. And it can feel necessary to take everything you own- whether it’s practical or not. But if there’s one thing I wish I’d known about moving into a new place, it’s that you definitely don’t need to pack everything. It’s not a survival course, and there is the possibility of picking up items once you get to University. You’re not going to need every single item from your childhood bedroom.
While it’s a great idea to bring some personal items- especially for those first few months when you might feel homesick- you should also leave room to make new memories. And you never know, that thing you forgot to pack might be something your new neighbour can loan you! On a practical note, it’s also a lot easier to move in when you’re not carting around everything you own.
You don’t always meet your best friends in freshers
I feel like this is the advice of a lot of student bloggers, but I didn’t see this advice until after my freshers experience. While I made a few good friends in freshers week, it wasn’t actually until the last day of freshers that I met the people I would live with the year after. And it’s those people I’m still in contact with, even after graduation. So while I would encourage new freshers to be friendly with everyone they live with, it’s not necessarily those people you meet in freshers week that are going to be your best friends.
This is one of the most important things you need to know before starting University. It’s also important to remember that first year is not your only opportunity to make friends- I’ve made friends throughout my three years at University. So don’t put too much pressure on the first week of your first term! And if you don’t click with the people you live with- that’s fine too. There’s lots of opportunities to meet people on your course or even clubs and societies.
Cooking is hard!
This was something which really hit me in my second year. In my first year of University, I lived in catered accommodation which was a lifesaver, but when I got into my second year I realised I didn’t have many cooking skills. One of the things I find most difficult about cooking is making sure I have a variety of meals. While I’ve mastered certain meals, I’m still not great at cooking, and my University meals weren’t very varied.
So my advice to someone starting University would be to practice their cooking skills in advance. It’s a great idea to also have a list of meal ideas on hand for when you’re tired after a lecture, and in need of some cooking inspiration!
Practice a good work/life balance
A good work/life balance is important to your mental and physical health whatever your situation in life. But I think when starting University, people often go one of two ways: some people forget about their course and see University as the typical “party experience”, and some people forget about having a bit of fun because they’re so focused on their course. So it’s important to remember that you’re there to study and get a qualification- but it’s also important to let loose and have some time off. This could be taking a self-care day or going to the pub, but whatever it is it’s important to remember to keep a good balance, just like you would at home.
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When I first started University I was very focused on my course, as I was stressed about the step up from A-Level. After I started to settle into a routine and a friendship group, I started enjoying the nightlife my University had to offer. It’s hard to balance work and fun sometimes, but it’s really worth remembering that you need both work and play to have an enjoyable University experience!
Food is more expensive than you think
In fact, everything is more expensive than you think! Toilet paper, soap, alcohol, food. You name it, it’s going to cut into your student budget. I would recommend doing a lot of your shopping at big supermarkets instead of smaller, on-campus shops. If you’re attending a campus University (like I did) it’s so easy to get into the routine of buying your groceries from the on-campus shop, but these can be really expensive. So don’t be afraid to shop around. Even if this means travelling a little further for your food, it’s a good idea to remember that you have options.
I would also recommend bulk-buying cheap items if you’re cooking on a budget, such as pasta and rice. These foods are very typical “student” foods, but they can really come in handy to bulk out a meal! Before going to University, I would recommend looking into how expensive the city is that you’re going to be living in. It can be quite a shock, for example, when you’re used to northern prices, and you realise everything in London is double the price. A little research beforehand could help with your budgeting!
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And that’s it! Whatever University experience you take part in, I hope these tips offer some helpful advice. I wish I’d had this advice before I started University- particularly remembering to not put too much pressure on that first year! Thank you again to Amber for featuring me on your blog, I’ve really enjoyed reflecting on my University experience now that it has come to a close.
Thank you for reading things you need to know before starting University!