Perhaps one of the hardest things you will ever do is move away to university. For the first time in your life you won’t have the safety net of home surrounding you anymore and despite the fact we all claim to be independent, sometimes we’re simply not. It’s a fairly overwhelming experience to get free roam of your own life. The first few weeks will be a whirlwind with the three ‘p’s becoming a staple of your everyday life: pasta, pizza and pot noodles. Freshers events fill your evenings and sleep will fill your days, but as much as the social aspect will contribute to an unbelievably quick first semester, the reason you’re there soon establishes itself — the dreaded education.
Days one to five are awash with icebreakers and trying to find your way around. But then, the deadlines start to slowly fill your calendar and the nights out lessen themselves. Five a week becomes three.
Managing your life can be tricky, regardless of your age, but doing it for the very first time can be daunting. So, if you’re heading off this September to do a whole lot of growing up, we suggest looking at our definitive guide to student survival.
Odd socks are a getaway, but a Christmas jumper in November isn’t a style many of us can pull off. It’s rubbish, no one likes doing the washing but the longer you leave it, the worse it gets. Every time you take something from your drawer, adjust your habits so once you get changed, you put the dirty clothes into the wash basket. Red and white aren’t an advisable combination, unless you’re using colour catchers. Likewise, if you don’t know how to use the washing machine, guessing can be a rash decision. If the instruction manual isn’t close by, call upon your good old friend, Google.
As previously mentioned, the three ‘p’s will prove to be a popular choice of sustenance, however, long days at university require brain food, and that just won’t cut it most of the time. Cooking on a meal by meal basis can often prove expensive and similarly wasteful. Meal planning is essential if you are to save both time and money. A packet of mince, a tin of chopped tomatoes, a few different vegetables and some spaghetti can be bought for £3, providing enough food for four meals. Freezing food is something you probably never did before, but at university it becomes an absolute lifesaver. Did you know you can freeze milk to prevent it from going off?
Virtually every university throughout the UK will provide training facilities. It may seem like a lot of money, especially when you’re scraping pennies together to buy a pint, however it’s a worthwhile investment. Studies have shown that most students put on somewhere between one and two stone in the first year of university. The weight gain usually has been found to have links to drinking, stress and an unhealthy diet.
Alongside indoor gym facilities, university sports teams offer a great way of maintaining a level of fitness. The wide range of clubs means you’re almost guaranteed to find something you like. It’s not just football, hockey and rugby anymore!
Travel can be a rather tricky task, especially if the weather is most typically British and the campus doesn’t sit directly facing your bedroom window. Most inner-city campuses tend to be okay in this regard, however if you’re living or studying on the outskirts, taking a car with you might be the more economical option. The Renault Clio has established itself as a firm favourite amongst the student population, thanks to its low insurance costs and its positive relationship with parking.
Step out of your comfort zone
It might be easier said than done but if you’re going to enjoy your experience you need to get involved. Put yourself out there, as Snow Patrol once sang, ‘This is your life, this is your time.’ Sign up for clubs, go along on course nights out and most importantly, try with your flat mates. It can be incredibly scary moving in with new people for the first time, but remember, they are in the exact same boat as you.
Obviously if you aren’t enjoying yourself then don’t hide it, and certainly speak to someone. Again, universities provide free counselling for students, but don’t give up until you’ve given it your best shot — nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Money, Money, Money…
Abba sang it, and now its up to you to manage it. Perhaps the hardest thing about the whole experience is budgeting. Just like cleaning and washing, no one enjoys doing it, but it is a necessity. The congratulations cards you receive, or the twenty pounds your grandparent stuffed in your back pocket before you left won’t last forever. Find out the different things you can do for free in your city, plan your trips home well in advance and don’t constantly buy takeaways. As much as salted chili chicken or a Texas BBQ pizza may be your favourite hangover cure, think of how many meals you could’ve made for the same price.
University will be the best experience of your life and time will fly. Make the most of it and by following our simple plan you might just be able to make things a whole lot easier.