After all that hard work at college or sixth form you have secured a place at university — congratulations! Starting your degree is a very exciting time, but with it can come worry — after all, you’re going into the unknown and will soon be living a whole different life to the one you’ve been living for the past 18 (or more) years. With university comes new challenges: new living arrangements, new housemates, a new city, and new friends… in fact, the learning won’t just be happening in the lecture hall over the next three years!
Try not to worry, although it’s completely natural to feel some apprehension for what lays ahead. Remember that most people refer to their time at uni as the best time of their life. Getting prepared can help alleviate the worry, so take a look at our suggestions below.
Learn to cook
When you start uni it can be tempting to live off takeaway food for the first couple of weeks, but I guarantee you’ll soon be missing your favourite meals from home, and also realising how much takeout food costs! So, before you leave home, ask your mum or dad to teach you how to cook a few of your favourite dishes. Not only will this ensure you’re able to eat nutritional meals while you’re living away from home, it means you’ll be able to impress your new housemates too! You’ll also find it’ll work out a lot cheaper than ordering in.
Explore your student town
If you arrive before term starts, it’s a great idea to familiarise yourself with your new town or city and your university campus. Track down your local shops, GP surgery (you could even register!), bus stop and train station, as well as your lecture halls, the campus library and the student union. If your new house or hall mates have also arrived early, you could take this opportunity to bond with them while exploring the area.
Decide what to take with you
Now is the time to make sure you’ve got all the living equipment you might need. Depending on if you’re moving into halls or a private house share, there will be different items you need to purchase. Check what you need, make a list, and start collecting it all together. Don’t forget all the smaller items too, such as stationery and cleaning products. Don’t take too much stuff with you though — you’ll have limited room! One item you absolutely must pack is photos from home — you’ll be so glad you took them on those days when you’re feeling a little homesick.
Sort out your finances
It’s time to upgrade your bank account to a student bank account. Make your choice based on the overdraft facilities, and enjoy the extra benefits that are often thrown in such as free NUS Extra membership or gift vouchers. Your student finance is probably already sorted by now, but if not, get it done ASAP! Once you know exactly how much money you’ll have to live on, including any part-time job income, you can work out a budget — not very exciting, I know, but very useful when it comes to living within your means and not running up debts.
Many university courses release their reading lists online or email them out a few weeks before term starts, so it might be a good idea to get started on buying the core texts you’ll be needing for your studies. Don’t buy the whole list though — that’s what the library is for! Getting ahead on your reading will give you a confidence boost, too, and put you ahead of your peers in your early lectures and written work.
Spend time with friends and family
Depending on how far away your university choice is, it could be months before you can make it back home to see your friends and family again, so make the most of the time you have left with them now and enjoy each other’s company. While you’ll be full of good intentions to call home regularly, new students are often too busy having fun to do so. However, once the excitement of the first few weeks of freedom wears off, you’ll be feeling homesick and will appreciate the extra time you spent with your loved ones before uni started.
If you’re moving into a house share for your first year, find out why that was a great choice, here!