It's coming up to that time now where you've received your results and you're frantically running around homeware stores with the aim to hunt down every last kitchen utensil. The reality of it all is, is that you'll end up with a cupboard full of unused dishes and someone else's knives and forks.
This time last year I was searching for every possible description about university life, however I soon realised that the answer can only be found through personal experience. With this post, I hope to answer some of my own questions that were floating around my head a year ago, and point some of you in the right direction too.
1. Don't over pack
It's fair to say that as soon as you're a confirmed university student, you and your parents minds are more than likely to go into overdrive. Endless checklists are going to be made about what you may or may not need and unfortunately you won't be certain of this until you have settled in. My advice is to not pack in excess; you will only need 2 sets of dishes, not an entire dining set etc.
Always check with your university about what is provided. I'm certain that every year the kettle/toaster/iron scenario is debated. Leave these items until you have all moved in, as one flat member may have already taken one for the team. And if not, you can all explore your new town by taking a group trip to buy them. REMEMBER: your university city has shops too!
2. Follow your university on social media and find flat mates
The strongest piece of advice I can give to nervous/anxious freshers, is to follow every single page your university has on Facebook/Twitter. There's always a main page but often there are smaller sub pages which are more specific to your needs. For example: your freshers page, various societies, your halls, international students, events or local bars/clubs. Derby's 'Get More' page offered free trips to London, themed BBQs as well as local tours of the city. Most importantly, from following your accommodation page you can make a post to find your new flat mates (I did this as soon as I got my room number, so I found mine from March onwards). This allows you to set up a chat so you can get to know who you're living with and also lets you discuss any concerns you may have. I found this really helpful as it reminded me that we're all in the same boat.
3. Make a book of important paperwork
As you're growing up, more and more documents and important pieces of paper are sprung upon you. In my last moments before moving out, I bought myself a folder so that I could store all of these, this folder was literally my bible! I had various sections; Passport + photos, medical card, national insurance number, uni confirmation details, bank account documents, doctors notes etc. This was very handy on moving in day as a lot of these documents were needed in order to sign onto my course.
4. Have fun at Freshers
Freshers is possibly the most talked about thing of university. Even if you're not a massive party animal and prefer catching up on your soaps than going out, you're more than likely to be converted at this point. If you've done the above and researched your university, you've possibly found out your freshers programme by now. If not, this is usually between 1-2 weeks of day/night events, from freshers fairs to various themed parties with your SU (Student's union) at local clubs. Do not be fooled by the Freshers wristband trick, it can work out to be a waste of money unless you attend all the events. But try and get involved with as much as you can, this is the perfect time to make new friends. BE WARNED you will have to attend lectures the next day.
5. You don't need a new wardrobe
I got myself in a panic as I only had a handful of 'going out' outfits, but everyone completely forgets about what you wore the other night. It is almost guaranteed that any outfit has the potential to be ruined during freshers, so be wise about wearing your favourite dress to a mosh pit. Actually, you don't need many clothes at all, student life is spent predominantly in pyjamas.
6. Manage your money
Possibly a good one to follow after Freshers. The countdown begins for your student loan to come in. For some, this is the first time you'll see a large sum of money come into your bank account and it is important to not blow it otherwise you'll be starving up until Christmas.
Everyone will have a different way of managing their money, it's up to you to find your preference. I made myself a termly calendar of the money I spent and saved each week as well as a running total of my loan that term. I divided the amount of weeks into my loan to work out a weekly budget. I roughly spent around £20 per week on food and used the rest to buy clothes or equipment etc. Do not worry about religiously sticking to this in your first few weeks, you're likely to be spending a fair bit on going out or stationery.
7. Freshers Flu is a thing
I thought it was all a joke but I seriously could not shift this for the first few weeks! There's no way of avoiding it, to will come to you with time. Swiftly on to my next point...
8. Register at the doctors and sign for free NHS prescriptions
This usually happens on moving in day in the main area of your University. You'll be able to find a stand where you can sign up to a permanent residency for the doctors - this is where your 'bible' comes handy. Also be aware that as soon as you turn 19 you will have to pay for your prescription, look out for a blue form for a HC2 certificate so that you can apply for free treatment (this will depend on your financial circumstances).
9. Join societies
Something I majorly regret from first year. Join any societies that may be of interest to you, it doesn't matter if you're a professional at it or not just give it a go. It's a great way to find people with a common interest and I believe they host great social nights too.
10. Give first year your all
I think the most repeated phrase I've heard in the last year is 'It's ok, first year doesn't count'. You may only need 40% to get into the next year but it's important to show your lecturers what you're capable of. Make sure you concentrate just as much on your studies as you do having fun. Balance is key.
I'm forever told that university years are the best years of your life so ENJOY IT because it will go so fast. Get lots of pictures and videos so that you can laugh about these in many years to come.
I hope you enjoyed another post of my uni series, see the previous post HERE.
What are you most looking forward to? Let me know in the comments below :)