The goodbye hug. The pride and concern in your parents’ tears. Car doors slam and away. Your parents, family, friends (and randoms accumulated along the way) have departed; you, my friend, have started university. It’s a moment that plays long in the thoughts of prospective students and one that lasts long in graduate memories.
The fear, the doubt.
’Was this the right decision?’
‘Didn’t I want to take another year out before this?’
‘Did I forget the hairdryer?
'Ooh I remembered the wine...!’
Tackling the first hour, let alone the whole first few days of university is a daunting experience for everyone. People talk up the build up to arriving at uni; the manic last minute packing, tearful goodbyes and the slow motorway crawl towards your new student home, as part of the fearful experience. In reality, whilst annoying, angering and anxious all the same, the real moment all new students fear is that moment, those first days spent in a new city, with new people, with a new home.
We understand this; we’ve been there, we’ve bought the proverbial t shirt and we know how lonesome, uncomfortable and downright, pit-of-the-stomach scary it can feel to stand on the edge of your university career, dip your toe in and feel how chilly the academic waters seem! So here we give you our own independent tips, hints and general advice on how to avoid the pitfalls we stumbled into when we started out in academia!
For most the nerves really kick in when the folks leave and you’re left alone to make this new student city your own. Easier said than done it may be, but don’t let this overawe you. It’s a horrible cliché but everyone you meet is in the same boat – they have the same butterflies in the belly, the same desire to meet friends as quick as possible and the same longing to feel at ease.
What’s important to remember is that this isn’t your home yet, so don’t expect it to feel like it. Many people get homesick throughout their university careers and beyond, so it’s ridiculous to expect yourself to be comfortable in this situation – one of the biggest, most independent moves of your life!
The first days and weeks are exactly that, the first of many, so try to relax, meet your housemates and accept that you’re all beginning your degrees together and that alone is a massive thing to have in common.
It’s pretty much a guarantee that if you’ve been listening or reading anything about going to uni, you’ve been told not to worry if friendship doesn’t blossom with your housemates, room mates or first acquaintances. Whilst very much the case for some people, just as many people get on great with their flat and floor buddies, sharing stories and shenanigans in first year they’ll never forget. Basically, don’t let the fact that you might not end up being best buds with the guy who turned up a day late or the girl who used (shock horror!) the whole shelf in the fridge; give these people just as much time and effort as you will do your course mates and you might just find a drinking partner for the next three (or thirty!) years.
Bring a bottle
Whether you see the discount boozing and clubbing of Freshers week as the best bit about starting uni or a sad indictment of the state of British boozing culture, it’s pretty much a fact that the undergraduate experience in Britain often goes with a beer in hand. If you don’t mind a cold beer or a glass of pinot grigio, it can be a good idea to have one handy in the fridge (and some chips and dip if you have the finances and want to become a Halls legend!) to offer your new roomies as you all chat and find out each other’s gossip.
The first days and weeks are a rush of new names, faces and hometowns. You’ll get to know your immediate neighbours pretty quickly; the first queue for the shower is a laugh, by the fifth you’ll be screaming for some house rules already! But amidst the nameless faces you remember the first weeks of uni it’s good to ask a few more considered questions to get to know someone. Whether it’s a chat about their gap year, who was good at Glastonbury this year or even the ‘fact’ that your long lost grandfather invented the sherbet dip, people will find out more interesting stuff about yourself and your fellow students than the name/age/hometown that everyone asks.
Don’t forget to feel text-y!
From the moment your folks drive off from your student accommodation you’ll probably drop into a completely self-involved world of discovering your nearest neighbours, off licenses and resident hotties. However, from that very moment your poor parents will be feeling all the fears that you’re doing your best to hard in these first few weeks, as well as their own... send them a text to say you’re fine, you’re room smells but you love the peeling wallpaper decor in the corridors. They want you to be fine, and unless you’re genuinely struggling, let them know you’re doing fine!
Most importantly, whether you’ve listened to our advice or think we’re talking rubbish, the most important thing when you start uni is like in most walks of life - be yourself. No matter what you think, being friendly, relaxed and just being yourself will set you out to meet some people you’ll know for the rest of your lives. Remember that you’ve come to uni to learn, have fun and get some independence... and what better way to start than realising what folly it is to pretend to be what you’re not.
- Best advice is just take it easy
- Don’t steal everyone’s foods space
For later in the week
- Prepare to get lost. In uni, in all the faces and names you forget, in the rush of activity confusion and excitement the first week generates
- Alarm clock – I forgot it, your phone isn’t loud enough, you will need to wake up
- For many freshers, student life doesn’t provide an instant sensation of hedonistic elation
- Friends aren’t always same as at home
Written for Student Source by:
John Staff - BA (Hons), Journalism and Advertising - 1st Class Honours From Lincoln University.
Photo by Kind permission of Digs Student - Property Ravenscourt