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  • Writer's pictureSarah Ingham

Are you prepared for University?

Starting university can be a rollercoaster of emotions, from apprehension to excitement, and there will more than likely be an abundance of things you’ll need to put in place before you go. Though it may seem daunting at first, preparing for life at university should be an exciting time as you get yourself ready for what has the potential to be one of the best experiences of your life.

So... what can you expect and how can you prepare? Well, firstly, every University and University experience is different, so make sure you do your own research and definitely try to visit if you haven't already.

However, we've put together our top tips below - hopefully they will help you!

Leaving home

Leaving home to go to Uni can be nerve-wracking, packing up your belongings and saying goodbye to your family is never going to be easy. You will find yourself with new responsibilities such as paying bills, managing money, cooking and cleaning, washing etc.

Like with anything, practise and planning makes perfect so a couple of months before:

  • do your own washing

  • cook dinner yourself

  • create a budgeting plan

  • do a family shop

  • ask someone at home what type of bills to expect

These might seem like small things but they will really help!

Meeting new people

Arriving at your student accommodation and being surrounded by people you don’t know can seem scary but remember that most people are feeling the same, even those that seem super confident. Initiating early friendships is key in settling into university life quickly and comfortably, so take a deep breath, step out into the hallway and introduce yourself. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to get to know each other!

How else can you overcome these nerves? It's not easy but:

  • Don't be afraid to just throw yourself into it and introduce yourself. And don't worry if you don't get on with everyone - that's life!

  • Avoid sitting in your room or waiting for people to come to you. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and get involved.

  • Take a deep breath, smile and just start chatting to those around you.

  • Ask questions! Where are you from? What are you studying? Are you thinking of joining any societies? What's your favourite Pizza topping? You will find common ground and conversation will flow naturally.

Like we've said, you won’t get on with or have things in common with everyone you meet so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Be polite and friendly but focus your time and energy on those who you really click with.

Grades and workload

Worries about grades and whether you’re going to be good at what you do go hand in hand and are completely rational fears to have. University courses are three to four years long for a reason; there is so much time to learn your craft and develop within your subject area. The first year of university is often based around introducing students to the topic they are studying as well as practicing methods of study and assignments. That being said, your first year won’t necessarily be easy, but with hard work and dedication you will do well!

Peer pressure

Most universities will have a ‘fresher’s week’, designed to ease you into university life, allowing you to explore your surroundings and get to know those around you. Fresher’s week typically involves plenty of partying with numerous events scheduled every night for new and existing students to enjoy. Getting involved and attending fresher’s events will allow you to bond with your new housemates or course friends, help break the ice and find out lots of things about the University, such as the clubs and societies you can get involved with (don't miss the Freshers' Fair!).

Starting university involves mixing with people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. This can also involve difference of opinions and lifestyle choices. Be open to this but make sure to stand your ground and don't be peer pressured into doing something you don’t want to do.

Sort out the basic essentials:

There's lots to think about when you start University and it's often easy to forget some basic things. Before leaving for Uni don't forget to;

  • confirm your accommodation (don’t forget, halls of residence are allocated on a first come, first serve basis)

  • arrange your transport to university

  • register with a local GP

  • set up your student bank account

Buy everything you need (within reason!)

If you’re moving into halls of residence, you will likely be provided with many of the basic facilities, such as kitchen appliances. As well, you’ll probably have limited storage space, so keep that in mind when it comes to packing up all of your worldly belongings.

When it comes to buying study materials for your course, it’s always a better idea to wait until classes actually start so that you can get a better feel for what materials are really necessary. This is especially the case when it comes to buying textbooks – your reading list could be a mile long, but you might discover that you really only need to purchase one or two core texts. And don't forget that the library exists - you probably don't need to buy every single recommended course text, just borrow them when you need to! Also, check out second hand and selling sites - ex-students often sell books they no longer need and this always works out much cheaper than buying new!

Set realistic expectations before you go.

If you’re moving away to university, and it’s your first time away from home for an extended period of time, it’s important to set yourself some realistic expectations before you go. It’s not uncommon for first-time students to be struck with bouts of homesickness within their first few weeks of university; if this happens, don't worry, it certainly doesn’t mean you’re not cut out for university life, but all the same, it can be difficult. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself, allow yourself to go through the motions and remember that there is plenty of help and support out there if you need it - student services on campus is a great starting point.

Spend some time getting to know your surroundings.

Once you’ve moved in, it’s worthwhile spending some of your spare time getting to know your surroundings. Explore the university campus, get to know the students’ union, the lecture buildings and other facilities. And don’t forget to go further afield – locate your nearest bus stops, train stations, local shops and supermarkets, and GP surgery. You could even turn it into an opportunity to spend some time with your flatmates by getting them to join you.

Work out a budget! (more importantly stick to it)

It’s no secret that, as a student, money will be tight. As tempting as it may be, the last thing you want to do is blow your entire student loan in the first week of university. As soon as you know what your expenses are, sit down and work out a budget that you can stick to throughout the academic year. Prioritise how much you have to spend on the essentials such as food and rent, and then how much is left for you to spend at your own leisure.

And last but certainly not least, If you’re struggling – reach out for help!

If within the first few weeks of university you find yourself struggling for whatever reason, whether it be due to homesickness or something else – don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

  • Reach out to friends and family – Having regular catch ups with new and old friends as well as family will help keep you positive and hopefully reduce some of the loneliness you may be feeling.

  • Stay active – It is important to keep your physical health in check as well as your metal health. Try to eat well, exercise regularly and allow yourself some down time in order to create a balance alongside your studies.

  • Communicate with lecturers, Uni staff and Student Support – If you are struggling with your uni work or have a question, don’t be afraid to email your lecturers. They may be busy and also feeling the pressure, but they want the best for you and will most likely respond and support you. All Universities will also have a variety of student support services, often located around the Students' Union, to help with all manner of issues; from finance and accommodation to study support and well-being they're there to help so make sure you check them out.

We hope this has given a little more insight in to what to expect when you start University, and ways in which you can prepare yourself. University is an amazing life experience, grab it with both hands and make the most of it. Remember though your experiences don’t stop, so keep adding to your globalbridge profile regularly - it's a great way to evidence all of your amazing achievements!

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