Starting University // A Brief Guide

It's summer and those who have applied to university will be opening their results and finding out their next big adventure in life. Going to university is definitely up there with one of the most life-changing experiences you will ever have- you’ll be living away from home, moving away from friends and family, taking the right steps towards your chosen career path and basically, starting a new life. I wish someone had written a guide for when I was starting university (2 years ago!) because I was ridiculously nervous and really had no idea what to do or what to expect, so here is a little light hearted guide which should help you along your way...

Take Advantage of Freshers Fair - We're talking a serious amount of free pens and with the frequency I seem to lose them, that can only be a good thing! If you're not as thrilled as me about receiving pens (because let's face it, most of you probably aren't!), don't fear. You'll get vouchers for exclusive student discounts, free slices of pizza, free shots, free SWEETS(!!!!) and other miscellaneous bits and bobs (frisbee, anyone?!).

Buy A Onesie – Or some seriously snuggly pajamas. In my first year, I just paid a set fee for my rent so could have my heating on as often as I wanted, but as a thrifty second year in a little terraced house, my housemates and I rarely had the heating on due to how much it cost. My extensive collection of onesies came in handy here.

Don't overpack! – I was a total NIGHTMARE. I packed absolutely everything from my bedroom at home, bar the bed! I couldn't bear to leave behind any of my clothes and so I took everything. My wardrobe space in my room in halls was about 90% smaller than in my bedroom at home so I'll leave you guys to imagine the state of my uni room (the very definition of a floordrobe). Not only did I over pack with my clothes, but everything else too! Books, DVDs, kitchen stuff (technical term), etc. If the image below isn't high enough resolution, feel free to e-mail me and I will send you a copy of the checklist!

Use Student Websites To Your Advantage - The mistake I made in first year was buying an NUS extra card. Don't get me wrong, I did use it and at only £11 it did end up being cost effective but as far as I'm aware, it doesn't offer discount at extra places when compared to Unidays- which is FREE!! Just be sure to sign up to Unidays, and get the app, and you'll have all the discounts you'll need. (Also, I'm not sure if this is the case anywhere else, but my Huddersfield uni card doubles as an NUS card so it's worth asking someone at your uni about this). 

Ordering Groceries – Whilst walking to the supermarket sounds ideal, lugging back countless bags full of heavy stuff is less than ideal. Believe me, your Tesco (or other brand) delivery guy will become your new best friend! Tesco do delivery slots from £1 and being a student with an intermittent timetable can definitely work to your advantage, and you can make the most of the cheaper delivery slots. While we're on the subject of supermarkets, it's worth getting their loyalty card for extra deals. You can use these online too!

Don't be tempted to spend all your loan– if you're lucky enough to have a little bit of money left over from your loan or grant after all the essentials like food and books have been bought, transfer it to your savings account. Don't be tempted to spend it just because you have it! I've saved mine up and I'm hoping to use it to put towards moving into my own place after uni, and have already spent some of the money I've saved on driving lessons. 

Buy a 16-25 Rail Card – I set up a student account with Santander for my time at university and got this card for free, but buying it (£30 p/year or £70 for 3 years) definitely works out cost effective as you never know whereabouts in the country you might go, visiting friends at their universities, and also just heading to different cities to shop and eat. This was a particular life saver for me as I live in Huddersfield for uni and there isn't really a whole lot of things to do there. 

Print Lecture Notes - If you can afford a printer (or bring yours from home!), it's definitely worth it. Making notes in lectures is all well and good, but sometimes it's difficult to keep up or sometimes you get home (like me) and read through your notes absolutely baffled because you have NO idea what you're talking about. If your own printer just isn't financially viable, then that's okay! You can buy print credits at university or go halves on a printer with a new uni friend.

Look for a PT Job – I know, I know. It's super difficult to get a job when there are thousands of students all recently moved to the same area looking for all the same jobs as you. If you are lucky enough to get a job or even just an interview, please PLEASE google your prospective employer. I had a horrendous experience regarding my employment which has basically ruled over my life for the first two years of my uni experience- but that's another blog post in itself!

Drink Water - Take it to your lectures with you, even if you're not a crazy party animal who goes out every night, you'll be well hydrated and on the best form for learning all the time. Plus water has crazy-good skin and general health benefits

Do Try in First Year - Ignore anyone who says 'you only need 40% to pass'. Yes it doesn't technically count, but in first year, lecturers tend to go slower and by second year you're expected to have decent knowledge of most areas of your course so the pace is much faster. This tip will come in very handy if you are a nightmare with stats like me!

Comfy Shoes - Living in the centre of a city means that everything is within walking distance. There's no need to rush out and buy trainers but you need to be aware that you'll need comfy shoes if you're going to be running errands round town or traipsing round the supermarket. Don't make the mistake I did, and wear shoes with glitter socks on a day full of being on your feet- hello blisters!

First Year is For Settling in - Don't worry if you don't immediately enjoy yourself. I'm not ashamed to admit I really didn't enjoy first year all that much. I liked being in uni and with the girls on my course, but my living situation wasn't that great and I spent a lot of time in my room which led to feeling isolated. I kept logging on to Facebook and seeing all my school friends posting pictures of their new flatmates all having an amazing time together and I felt really rubbish. It's okay not to feel great about uni, it's a massive change and not necessarily what you expect.

Everyones uni experience is different and I'd love to hear about yours. Are you going to uni? Have you finished uni? If you're not going, does this make you wish you were? Also, if you have any burning questions this post didn't answer for you, please let me know!


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