Whoo, where have I been? Fighting dragons? Saving princesses? Jail in Mexico? We may never know.
What we do know is that the new University semesters are about to start! So we’ve building up a collection this week of advice for those of you just beginning in your university, and it’s my turn to tell you how to deal with your first week or two.
Let’s begin at the natural starting point – moving in. Everyone is reluctant to leave home, even when you’re super-eager for something new. It’s a radical change, and that is just plain scary. But you want to move in as early as you can and get unpacked, or you’re going to find yourself working around a bunch of other people moving in at the same time! Busy move-in days are very high-stress and do little to put you into that comfort-zone that you want to find as soon as possible in your new surroundings. When you are unpacking, keep the door of your room open; it’s an invitation for people to look in, to know you’re there and to come meet you, the easiest way to start to talking to your new flatmates. Otherwise, make sure you do introduce yourself to them! You’re going to be living with these people for at least a year, so get to know them, make them feel welcome and they’ll do the same for you.
Unpacking fairly quickly can be another point of stress if you worry too much over it, but it also gets you settled into a place that you want to make feel like home. So get your books and your knick-knacks and posters out and on display, and make your room start to feel like yours.
Now, some things that you’re going to want to get:
Medicines! Paracetamol and Ibuprofen are your friend. Get some cold and flu meds, too. Fresher’s Flu does exist and it will find you.
Vitamins. With lots of students packed together in one place, colds and stuff are going to spread pretty quickly. To build up your immune system, stock up on any vitamins you lack, or multivitamins if you want a well-rounded intake. They’re also helpful in regards to giving you what a usually less-than-healthy student diet will lack.
Earplugs are something to consider, as you never know what your neighbours next door, above or below you are going to be like when it comes to TV, music or even stomping around at 4am. Make sure that alarm is loud enough to get through them though!
Now onto the freshers’ fairs. All Unis will have them to help welcome their new students, and they’re a fantastic way to meet people and get acclimatised to what’s going on around you. Attend as many events as you can, experience all those new things. When it comes to joining clubs and societies, just sign right up to any that even remotely catch your interest – sure, you may not attend them or keep an interest for very long, but the thing is, you are never again going to get the chance to partake in these events and hobbies as cheaply and regularly as you can now. Try everything! It’s a fresh start, after all.
Grab a timetable of everything going on and make plans with your flatmates or people you’ve met already from checking out events. Remember, the fair’s events aren’t just for you as an individual; they’re also great for bonding with others, and they also usually take place all around the campus so you’ll get to know the layout pretty quickly (speaking of which, check out your campus library before you buy any of your books on your reading list, as sometimes they’re already there for you to check out for free, or even to buy second-hand). Most importantly, if you’re a freeloader like myself, get all that free stuff! Keychains, cards, vouchers, lanyards, books, posters – there is so damn much on offer to you. Snag it. Snag it all.
You’ll probably want to do some exploring outside of your campus and the fresher fairs, too. So buddy-up, and get out there. Go on a bar crawl, one or two drinks per pub. Check out the places to eat, and the best take-outs. Find a great burger joint, because sometimes you just need a really good cheeseburger (or veggieburger) and there’s only so much McDonald’s a person can stand, y’know?
When it comes to shopping standards, I’d say dump ’em. Find the nearest Aldi, the cheapest places. They food there cooks just as well as anywhere else. Also try to get an idea of bus routes and prices if you want to do some exploring further afield, and check out the taxi services too. Sometimes the university has specially recommended ones.
Absolutely the most important thing, aside from having fun, is to stay safe. Don’t wander off into places you aren’t familiar with alone, and stick to groups of at least three if you are wandering. Drink as responsibly as a student can be expected to. Don’t ruin the fun with things that can easily be avoided with a little sense.
And finally, it’s okay to be homesick. It’s okay to cry and be scared, because everyone is in that same position. Phone your parents and friends, keep in contact with home, never feel that you’re alone.
You’re going to be fine.