Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How To Prepare for University

Image of floral background with 'How To Prepare for University' overlaid

I thought I'd write this as this September will be my third time starting a new university course, so I think I'm getting to be a bit of an expert! Haha
I'm also going to follow up this blog with a post on how to pack for and decorate your dorm room/hall of residence, so keep your eyes peeled!

Get your documents organised

In Fresher's Week there will be a million documents given to you and so many things to remember to bring. I recommend getting a box to keep all of these things in with a document file - so you can easily transport things in your backpack without any fuss trying to find everything!

Get Yourself A Student Bank Account

For many people, living at university will be the first time they're living independently and entirely responsible for their own financial choices. Make sure to clue yourself up beforehand as your bank account is going to be with you throughout! I personally really recommend online banking - as it makes it much easier to stay on top of your money coming in and out. Perfect for quick balance checks.
There are many websites out there which can help you choose the best financial deal for you.
Some of these are:


Be careful about going paperless at first. Although it's better for the environment and I totally recommend it - some places might be funny about accepting an online bank statement printed out (as I have recently learnt to my frustration).

Image of folder and notebooks with a floral and bird design

Make decisions about what you (don't) want to do

There is going to be a whirlwind of information and people around you when you start, so it might be useful to have a few planned goals so you don't get overwhelmed. For my first degree my goals were:

- Attend Fresher's Fayre
- Don't drink too much (don't get drunk)
- Spend some time with new flatmates

Personally I'm really glad I set these goals for myself because it helped me keep focused and happy. For example, for some people drinking loads might be how they want to celebrate (no judgement here), but for me I felt much better knowing that I could get myself set up and ready to go in the mornings without any feeling of illness and embarrassment. Basically, if you have goals set for yourself you'll be set to keep yourself happy and setting up a great atmosphere for yourself, without getting lost in Fresher's confusion.

Get a planner (and use it) before you arrive

My first degree was a combined degree between two departments, so it meant that I had to jump from one place to another and couldn't just follow the crowd. You will get sent out a timetable for Fresher's Week before you arrive and it can be really useful to have things written down so you don't miss anything vital (like registration) or fun (like socials)!

Keep Up To Date With Your Uni

As an additional point to the one above, it's more than likely that your university will send out plenty of welcome e-mails and booklets for you to take a look at before you arrive. Try not to get over-excited and sign yourself up to EVERYTHING before you arrive, without giving yourself a chance to breathe. However, this can be a great way of getting yourself excited, calming any nerves and getting a better idea of what will be going on in the first few weeks.

Image of list book with two 'to-do' lists written

Make sure you have reliable means of communication

When I started my MA I discovered upon moving in that my phone didn't have any signal in my room and there was a delay in the internet getting set up! Not a great way to start when there are so many people to contact and new things to research.

Prepare A Homesickness Go-To

Chances are you may not feel homesick as you have so much to keep you busy and excited about! However, it can be nice to have a go-to for any lonely downtime. Maybe a favourite film, tv show or book which always brightens up your mood.

Sign up with a doctor's as soon as you get there!

I would advise taking a wander around your new home and finding out where your closest doctor is. Although proximity isn't the only thing to bear in mind, it helps! In my BA I signed up to a doctor's in Fresher's Fayre only to find out the surgery was a 40 min walk or taxi ride away from me - not what you need when you're already feeling ill! If you're not sure where your closest doctor is your hall of residence manager or accommodation officer should be able to tell you.
Fresher's flu is, unfortunately, real.

Make yourself feel safe

Fresher's Week can be a scary and tumultuous time, so any ways of bringing yourself some comfort and security will not go amiss! This does not mean be scared at all, but particularly for anxious people taking a few steps before you leave might help you feel calm and collected. This is personal to you, so you know what these will be, but I have a few suggestions:

- A personal alarm
- Condoms/Dental Dams
- 'Spikeys' - a plastic stopper you can put in the top of drinks bottles to prevent spiking
- Some teddy bears/photos of sentimental value. It might seem silly but when you're alone for the first time having some cherished items with you can help bring some warmth to your new surroundings. I'm 23 and still take my teddies!

Image of DVDs and tea bags lying on top of cream coloured blanket.

Bring something yummy for introductions!

There's not many better ways to start a conversation than offering a muffin and a cup of tea as a break from upacking.

Try To Keep Your Door Open

As much as I understand the importance of keeping fire doors shut for health and safety reasons, you may find that Fresher's Week is a great time to keep your door open, figuratively or literally *ahem*. In the first week everyone is looking for friendship and a bit of company to attend events with - so in halls or shared housing this can be a great time to make friends fast.

Unpacking As A Priority

As much as unpacking can get a bit tiresome after the essentials (do I really care where this extra notepad goes?) it's a great idea to try and get things unpacked as soon as possible. This way, your room becomes your own space of relaxation as soon as possible. You don't want to worry about the unpacking you've yet to do when all your new friends are going out for the evening! Your room can also be a good place to socialise with others if you don't have a living room and having your room decorated can provide some good conversation topics.

Keep Hydrated and Fed

Sorry to sound like your mum, but it's important! In the first week you will probably be running around from place to place trying to keep on top of everything. I would really recommend sticking a bottle of water bar and an easy snack, like a cereal bar, in your bag so you've got something easy to hand.
Also, if local restaurants are handing out coupons for free food and drinks. KEEP THEM! Fresher's Week is expensive enough as it is - so get yourself some free meals where you can.

Have Fun!

Although this is a list of recommendations, it is not prescriptive. You do you! You'll have a lot of new influences and recommendations and it's important to remember that ultimately, you will know the best thing for you better than anyone else :). Enjoy this time - it might be once in a lifetime!

I hope this blog post was useful! If you want, I can also write a post explaining 'University Jargon'. I was the first in my family to attend university - so understand that this can be a bit confusing when you first turn up!
Congratulations on starting university and the best of luck! If you have any other questions, comment below and I'll try to help you out! Also, if you have any suggestions or tips I'd love to hear from you.

Best wishes,
Nicky xx

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