So you’re starting University. Persuaded by the shiny, free-spirited dream of ‘student life’. But what exactly is student life? Sure, you’ll meet a ton of new people and spend large parts of your first-year either going out or recovering after going out. But sadly, Uni isn’t just a problem-free parade of lazy days, communal bliss and cheap beer come nightfall.
Realistically, living in a new place with people you’ve never met before will likely include a few moments of stress and wonder. Regardless, you shouldn’t let morning lectures, cleaning kitchens and missing your mum put you off getting that two-one degree in 3-4 working years. To help you through the tough times and testing moments, we’ve prepared a guide for what you can do to improve your first-year university experience.
The Student Loan
You’ve just enjoyed a lavish summer fuelled off the back of a half-decent paying job in your local Supermarket. But now you’re broke! The money-well’s dried up and with a full year of education ahead of you, it seems you’ll be eating ramen noodles for the foreseeable future. Enter the student loan. A hefty pay package designed to cover your necessities and maybe a few drinks on the side. Unfortunately, for many, it tends to be more of the latter than the former.
Sure the drinks may seem cheap, but those £2.50 Jägerbombs soon start to add up. Couple that with the post-club chicken burger and then multiply it all by every day you’re out during Freshers, and it starts to add up. Soon, your bank account starts to look a little thin and, before you know it, £1.7k has gone down the drain. We’re not saying don’t enjoy yourself and put all your money in a pension. Just keep an eye out, do a little budgeting and maybe have a day off from your local club every so often. Trust me, you’ll be happy you did down the line.
Don’t let Loneliness Get to You
Despite living with friends and having them close to you at almost all times, you will sometimes find yourself alone and with little to do. This is when the homesickness can set in. You start to miss you mum, your group of mates at home and suddenly home-cooked meals starts to feel a long, long way away. But I assure you, this is natural. The vast majority of students will experience this same feeling at one point or another, no matter how many friends they have. Generally, many will start to feel this way around Christmas when the days are shorter, colder and considerably more depressing. At this stage, it is also likely you will have (some) work to do, either in the form of assignments or exams. This coupled with the fact you haven’t seen you dog in 2 months makes winter a difficult time.
Trust me when I say this feeling will pass. You can always choose to visit your family if necessary. In fact, use these times to consider how dull life at home is in comparison to University. You quickly miss the constant noise of your student halls and being able to drop in on a friend whenever you please. If, god forbid, you decide to drop out, don’t let loneliness be the deciding factor. It’s temporary and apart of becoming independent.
Find a Balance
Sure, Freshers may be almost completely dominated by going out and sleeping. But soon your social life won’t be the only factor in your time at Uni. At some stage, you’ll have to do a bit of work. Now I know what you’re thinking; ‘I only need 40%, doesn’t require much effort anyway’. This is true. Well, the 40% part anyway. But you’d be surprised at how much dedication the work side of University requires, even in first year. Once you’re a couple of months into Uni, it is important you develop a lifestyle that fits in work, social life and maybe a bit of exercise. This will lead to a far more fulfilling experience and you won’t find yourself wasting the days away. Besides, putting in that little bit of extra work can really make a difference, particularly if your course requires a work placement year.
Learn How to Cook
This is something I cannot stress enough from my experience at Uni. Having spent the first one and a half years eating frozen food and instant meals, trust me when I say it gets boring. Chicken and chips slowly becomes less and less appetising and you start to despise the taste of mushroom Pot Noodle. Cooking good food is also a great mood-improver. Learn how to cook a variety of simple, cheap meals. Your mind and body will thank you. There’s so many different student recipe guides online and you’re free to experiment and find what you enjoy. Sure, it’s a little bit of extra effort on your part, but there’s no need to submit yourself to repetitive, culinary torture.
Explore the Town
Why sit inside your student accommodation, when there’s a whole town/city out there to explore. Go experience the beaches of Bournemouth, the nightlife of Newcastle, the beauty of Bristol. Wherever you’ve chosen to do your degree, we guarantee there’s a whole lot to explore. Not only does it give you an excuse to leave your room, but you can get a much better and fuller understanding of the surrounding areas of your uni. Knowing the location that you’re going to be living in for the next 3 years is important, especially since a new place can be pretty scary for even the most fearless of people.