We have finally reached it! The big day is upon you…are you prepared?
For first years, second years or anyone choosing to move away for university it is a daunting experience. You may not think so at first but the feeling sneaks up on you especially after Freshers. Freshers is a new experience for you, you are buzzed about being away from parents and having your freedom however, this is where your journey begins.
“Freshers Flu- a sickly feeling including symptoms such as a cough, sore throats, sickness etc. A general feeling of illness.”
Freshers Flu gets us all. Whether you are a partier, a quiet night inner or a mixture of the two. No matter what you will catch something because there are so many germs floating around based on the increasing amount of people surrounding you. I have a theory that lecturers either catch it and get on with their days or over the years have managed to build an immunity. Either way, they never really seem to be affected by it. As a recent graduate and someone who chose to move out I thought I would write a little blog post about tips I picked up whilst living away and attending university. So here goes…
Colour Co-Ordinate Your Things
Buy your cutlery, plates, and other crockery in specific colours. You will come with that silver cutlery, talk to your flatmates, and decide to mix up all your stuff in one draw which is all well and good till you move out at the end of the year because if you are not living with those people again how will you know which is yours? Also, if you are the type of person who prefers to keep their belonging to themselves then it will help a lot because your flatmates cannot claim to have used the stuff accidently. Finally, your parents will thank you at the end of the year instead of having to buy another load of stuff for you to move into your next place.
Stock Up on Medicines
We all get ill, it is a fact of life! So, if your family asking if there is anything left you need before you move out then ask for them to put a first aid/medicine kit together with the basics. You will need things such as plasters, antiseptic cream, paracetamols, blister plasters (girls your heels will take a toll), cold and flu calpols etc. but it’ll save you spending a fortune buying them when freshers flu hits if you already have them to hand. All you have to do is remember to stock up your kit when needed on a weekly shop or if you’ve popped into the city for a spot of shopping.
Little Sowing Kit
Do you know how much of a pain it is if you get a hole in your favourite trousers, or if the underwire is popping out of your bra (girls)? Well, its handy if you learn how to sow and perform small fixes to your clothes where possible. Already you have rent, food, and leisure activities to pay for already it is not always ideal to buy new clothes every time there is an issue or waiting until you go home next to dump it all on your parents. You are going home to see them because they miss you…not to dump all your stuff on them whilst you just go out with friends. Also, these little skills will help you later on in life because you’ll have to learn one day. If you are not sure how to sow then ask your family, I am sure they will be delighted to teach you something and if not, there is google.
First Year Does Count
And for some courses it might. But, there are other courses where they do not count the first year towards your final grade. Yet, this does not mean you should slack off and try and pass on the bare minimum. First year serves to raise everyone to the same level in terms of academic writing, teaching basic theories and completing assignments etc and it is true that only 40% is needed to pass into second year but that does not mean you should run off out every night, miss all your classes and then ask for someone to help you pass with the bare minimum. You did not work your butt off to get into university to blow it off. It does count…this is the year teachers assess how you write, research, work and complete assignments which allows them to understand where support is needed but if you are just scraping through so you can go out every night then you should give your place up for someone who really wanted to come and do the work.
It also counts to have some fun, to let go and be a little crazy. You have moved away, you are independent and you only attend university some of the time so go and have that extra drink, get that tattoo you have always wanted and make friends with a variety of people! First year counts in multiple ways. You have to learn to juggle the fun with work and well because second and third year do count and you cannot rely on just one year to get that 1.1 (first) if you do not have any other grades to fall back on. Everyone is different and I actually managed to get a 1.1 out of my last year but that is not always the case for everyone no matter how hard they try.
Don’t Lock Yourself Away
It is a temptation. You have finally settled in, you are all talked out and you have gotten through the first week of living away from your parents. Now, you may want to fall back into old patterns and locking yourself away from everyone to sit in your room. And that is your prerogative but it is a new place so go and explore, grab some food, and make a few friends. Have them over once you get to know them. Experience university to the fullest!
It sounds odd, I know! But if you like privacy and boundaries then let your flatmates know. They are not mind readers and you cannot expect them to either. If you do not tell people your boundaries they will not understand if they have done something wrong and it is not fair for you to take it out on them either. So, establish a few ground rules to make you feel comfortable and if they are ignored after people are aware, then it becomes an issue you can approach them about. For example, not touching certain foods or if someone uses your stuff but never replaces or washes them after. It is a stressful time to live away and so, you should try and make it as easy as possible for you.
Have a Good Relationship with Your Proprietor/University Accommodation
Whether you live in a privately rented student house or one of the university accommodations it is good to have a friendly relationship with your proprietor or staff at the university accommodation. This is because your life will become much easier if there is a problem such as a bulb out, plumbing issues, WIFI etc. It is as easy as paying rent on time, reporting issues as soon as they occur and keeping your accommodations clean especially if you would like your deposits back. Also, this links back to boundaries in that not all places will consider you separately from other flatmates so if they break something you may all have to pay. In that case, setting up boundaries that deal with this in some way may help.
A Cook Book
You may have heard the rumours that as students we all live on pasta, noodles and take out. I am here to tell you that is not the case completely. While it is handy to have these cooking short cooks in the cupboard for those days you are in a hurry or heading to the library, a lot of students actually prefer to cook. So, it might be worth finding a little cook book suitable for students to gain ideas or putting one together based on your favourite recipes at home. Parents/Other family and the internet will provide you with great examples. Plus, the freezer is your best friend! You could make a spag bol or chilli and freeze everything else. That will be at least three or four more meals. Or cook as a group in your flat to make huge meals as long as you all split the cost. You could even take it as far as a slow cooker. One of my close friends had one with her for university and she was always using it.
Do Your Assignments
You may want to be out all the time, seeing friends and having fun but there is time to do this and complete your assignments- especially if your housemates all take different subjects. Sometimes you will have to stay in and do your assignments or suffer the consequences. Personally, I found that getting up and heading to the library even if everyone else is in bed or going straight after class and staying till work is complete was the best thing for me. It was hard to concentrate at times where I was living and in the library, I could get into my own world, write my assignments, and do the research particularly if I produced very detailed plans. It does not work for everyone but in my case, I was successful. But do not let anyone else make you feel bad for doing your work because they have not started theirs and want you to fall behind with them. We all work differently and as first years some of you may struggle to find the balance initially but, this comes with time, confidence and setting boundaries!
Make Your Room Your Own
We all walk into bare rooms, remnants of blue tack from the previous tenant mark the wall, cork boards still have tiny bits of paper stuck to them but this is now your room for the foreseeable future. So, make it your own! Buy a few posters to decorate the walls, have a Harry Potter bed spread but make it somewhere you will feel comfortable to live in. After all, it is your space and you have to look at these four walls over the next year. Also, making it your own tends to make it feel less like halls and more homey which is something you’ll need for those wet days, sad days or lazy days.
I would like to end this piece by wishing you all good luck at university and with moving in this weekend or whenever you do. It will be a challenge at first but trust me it is a great experience that you have to immerse yourselves in to get everything out of it. You may have issues with flatmates or university as a whole but, it is how you deal with them that shows your true nature. Whether it is having roommates that annoy you, ignore everyone or feeling like university is getting too hard there are people to talk too. If you have an issue speak to your students’ union, people on your course, or the accommodation staff because they cannot deal with something if it is not happening. Here is an adage that seems appropriate…KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.