It's September which can only mean one thing for universities; a new intake of Freshers and if you're not already at university, you're likely to be heading there in the next few weeks. Myself, 4 years ago on September 15th I was stood in my new bedroom door chatting to (what would later become my flatmate and bestie of 3 uni years) whilst my parents walked the 3 flights of stairs with all my shit. I was cute.
Freshers week and the few weeks. heck months, can be pretty daunting but most of us go through it and we all come out the other side one way or another.
Here's a few words of wisdom for new Freshers from a country girl who moved 4 hours away to a town where she knew nobody.
1. Everyone Is Nervy- Say Hi To People!
There are a few exceptions obviously but mostly, nobody knows anyone else and everyone is a bit nervous to get there, to settle in and most importantly, to make friends. I have never been in such an intense environment as Freshers because there's so much going on and you're meeting so many people every single day and night but the fact of the matter is, you're forced into being sociable and getting to know one another. And whilst some friendships won't last past the second week of term, others will but the important thing to remember is take a doorstop and have a chat to everyone you meet.
2. Living Independently Is Hard- Learn From Your Mistakes.
Let's not beat around the bush, 99% of us are reliant on the rents when we're living at home and moving away and living by yourself is bloody difficult. You'll probs burn a few meals, you'll probs not eat fresh fruit for a month cos HOW MUCH ARE STRAWBERRIES??? You'll probs dye all your white bedding pink by bunging it in a colour wash. You'll probs waste A LOT of money but hey, it's all a learning experience and it was hands down one of the best things about going to uni for me.
3. Plan Ahead.
One of the freakiest things about waving goodbye to your teary family members standing in halls is thinking it might be Christmas before you see them again. No matter who you are or what you think you'll be like, at some point you'll get homesick. Myself, I thought I'd be a wreck but was surprisingly chill about the whole thing, not getting homesick until 3rd year when my personal life went all mad. Having a plan of when you're going home next gives you something to count down till, gives you something to aim for and gives you a little beacon of light when you're feeling a bit poop and just want to smell your own home and see your dog.
4. Get A Decent Phone Contract.
Fun fact, I bought my first iPhone and my first Pay Monthly contract when I got my very first student loan. It was pretty responsible of me I know I know. On the plus side I for the first time had a decent amount of texts and minutes and for the first time had data and it is a LIFE SAVER when it comes to university. Make sure you have a decent contract so you can ring or text the people you've lost on a night out or make sure you've got a taxi home or Google Maps can point you in the right direction when you're lost at 3am in a still relatively unfamiliar city.
5. At Least Try With Studying.
Coming from someone who is a self confessed workaholic and is fully accepting of the fact I was the class swot and suck up....even I was awful in first year. I'd leave tutorials in the half way gap, I'd go home for dinner and just not go back in for the afternoon, I'd just not go in at all or miss study trips. We all did. 99% of courses the first year grade doesn't affect the overall degree and once you know it, it's basically a free pass to doing whatever the fuck you want. Don't forget though, attendance will come into it and you will be pulled up on it so at least try yeah? Sometimes?
6. Make Your Room Homely.
I've already done a homeware edit and tomorrow's post will be on things to take and things to leave behind but making your room homely makes such a difference to Freshers. Just having your own pillow from home or a familiar cushion or some pictures on the shelves makes it feel more and more like yours and helps you settle in much quicker. Combine that will shopping for new bits and bobs and you have a winner! Also it gives you something to do, something to organise and decorate and arrange if you're not feeling some of the Freshers activities.
7. Take A Duvet Bigger Than Your Bed.
Bit of a niche one I'll grant you but bear with me here. When I was in my student halls I had a single bed for the first time since I was 17 and it took me a while to adjust. I didn't sleep well for the first month because my room overlooked the student union and I even went and bought a V shaped pillow to save my neck because I am a princess but one of the best things I ever did was take a double duvet for a single bed. My bed was up against the wall so I used to tuck one half down the side so I was cocooned and it made all the cosy difference when we used to take our duvets to the sofas for HP marathons. Seriously, do it.
8. Call Your Family.
You might be having the best wildest time of your life but spare a thought for the rents back at home worrying how you're getting on and if you're making chums. It's like the first day they let you through the school gates when you were 5 except this time you're likely to be hundreds of miles away with a lot of drink and not much equipment to make meals for yourself. Get that good phone contract I was on about and just give home a quick bell regularly enough to stop them adding you on Facebook and they dealing with the awkward do I reject my mother's friend request malarky.
9. Have Someone To Stay.
Again, might not be on everyone's Freshers advice list but arranging for someone to come and stay is a top tip in my books. It doesn't have to be in actual Freshers because you're busy enrolling and making pals and hungover but a few weeks later or something, get someone down. It could be a sibling, a partner, some friends from home...whoever but arrange it. It gives you something to look forward to (can you tell I did a lot of that at uni) and having my parents and boyfriend and grandparents and brother staying throughout my 3 years away made me love my new town even more. From finding the best places to take them to eat to showing them where I studied to introducing them to my flatmates, it just used to make me proud of the life I lived there away from them and made me love it all the more.
10. You Do You Boo.
Ultimately, this is the one piece of advice every Fresher needs to read and take on board. University is often a fresh start for people, away from the life they live at home, away from their reputation at school or college, a chance to change it up if they fancy and you do you is the best bit of hindsight I can give. If it doesn't feel right to you, don't do it. If you want to take a gamble on something, you do it. If you want to meet ALL THE PEOPLE or just stick with your flatmates, you do whatever the hell you want. Don't feel pressured into doing something you don't fancy or going to a party you're not into or acting a certain way to make friends. I don't drink and tbh it was more of a problem with people I knew at school than people I met at university. I got through the whole three years with probably two drinks at most and when people asked if I wanted something and I said I didn't really drink it was like "oh ok". No big deal. I still went out in Freshers but instead of coming home plastered, I'd often find myself back on the sofa under a duvet watching Hilary Duff movies with my flatmates. And ya know what - those nights made some of the best memories I've ever had.
Your people are out there, people who share the same interests and do the same things and think the same way as you. University is the most intense, all encompassing experience and for some it's the best years of their lives and for others it doesn't work out and that's ok too. Just remember to ask for help if you need it, call quits if you know it's not right, work hard, play harder and make the most of the time you spend there because for better or for worse, it's like nothing you'll ever do again.
Best of luck to the Freshers and returning students of 2016 - you smash it babe.