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Tips For Surviving University Life

Aug 15, 2008
With September approaching, many people are preparing to take the new and exciting step into University life. Being a recent graduate myself, I thought I would take a trip down memory lane and give people essential advice for surviving the transition to student land.

It is most likely that if you are going to University for the first time, you will be living in student accommodation. Obviously with so many students staying in so many rooms, your place of residence is not going to be the Ritz, so don't go away expecting luxury. Of course some rooms are better than others, however, they are usually very basic.

There are a few ways you can prepare, in order to assure you do not want to leave after your first night. Firstly, bring you own pillows. It is more likely than not, the one you will find upon your arrival will be as flat as a pancake and will not make for a comfortable night's sleep. Secondly, if possible bring two duvets, one to put underneath you and one to cover you. Don't worry, beds don't usually have metal springs sticking out, however, the mattresses can be very thin, making the bed hard and lumpy. I actually found my bed was pretty comfortable, however, for added luxury create a cocoon for yourself. This can also help in the Winter, as rooms can sometimes get cold. Make sure you bring a hot water bottle with you as well.

A necessary at University is a washing basket. This sounds like a dull item to buy, however, if you have one you will be very grateful for it. It becomes quite an inconvenience having to search around for black plastic bags, which look unsightly in the corner of your room and rip when you pick them up to go to the laundry room. Furthermore, you do not want to have to take up the draw space you have, hiding away dirty clothes and stepping over clothes left on the floor just makes it more difficult to get to bed after a drunken night out. Before you leave home or as soon as possible after you arrive, why not take a quick trip to Wilkinsons, to buy one of their latest pop up baskets.

It can often be scary and unsettling moving away from home for the first time. Therefore, to make an empty shell feel homely make sure you come fully loaded with photographs, posters and personal trinkets. Covering your walls with removable decorations is not usually frowned upon and some kind of board is often provided for you to pin things too, but don't forget to bring plenty of blue tack and pins. I would also recommend unpacking and personalising your room, as soon as possible, to lesson the chance of feeling uncomfortable in your new surroundings and lonely.

A further tip to feeling less segregated from your close friends and family is to find an internet connection quickly. If you are lucky enough to have a lap top, combined with internet access in your own room then great, however, if not just find out the nearest place you can access it from. Having MSN Messenger and Facebook at your finger tips can mean you can keep in touch easily with those you miss and for free.

The internet is indeed great, but there is just a small word of warning i can offer. Try not to rely on your family and old friends for comfort too much. It is better if you put aside a small amount of time to communicate with them or save it for if you are feeling particularly low and concentrate on making new friends. The quicker you socialise, the easier you will settle in your new environment. Although it can be tempting, make an effort not to hide away in your room. On the same note, if you have come to University with a friend, try not to spend all of your time with them. It will be better for both of you to form friendship groups and then you will both have people to introduce to one another. This could potentially form a large social network.

If in Fresher's week you feel that everyone around you has already formed big groups of friends when you haven't, don't panic. More often than not they have just grouped together with fellow house or hall mates. You may do the same, however, you will find as the weeks go on, people will break away and become friends with the people they want to be with. On many occasions, your fellow house mates will become some of your closest friends, however, they may not. There are so many other opportunities, as well as so much time to settle in and get to know different people properly.

Upon your arrival at University, there will most probably be some kind of "Fresher's Fair" promoting every kind of club available. Many societies are keen to attract new members and joining one is a great way to meet new people. However, if you simply do not want to, don't worry. You will not be alone in your decision. Many people are just as happy staying at home or going out partying of their own free will. If you do not like being alone, however, why not invite a few people you have met over to watch a DVD, suggest going to a house party or a night out clubbing. If you make the effort you may well find you have more in common with certain individuals than first thought and it is likely that your invitations with eventually be reciprocated.

When your student loan comes through, it is very easy to get carried away and feel like the richest person on earth. If your anything like me, you will end up with a load of DVDs that you wanted at the time, but have watched about once. Furthermore, spending fifty pounds on alcohol in one night may seem good at the time, if not so great the next day. Without sounding like a kill joy, be careful about what you spend your money on. It is not pleasant when you reach the last few weeks of term and have no money to even buy food. There are only so many occasions you can eat 7 pence noodles.

Where food is concerned, try to shop sensibly and not just waste you money on other things so that you are forced to survive on the bare necessities. Moreover, remember your parents taught you that fruit and vegetables were good for a reason and just because you live on your own does not mean you should stop eating them. Living off bread alone is likely to give you scurvy. One of my house mates tried to live off bread whilst simultaneously taking vitamins to substitute the goodness he was lacking. The results were not pleasant. Extreme vomiting and stomach cramps.

There is one final thing I will mention to help you prepare before you embark on the adventure that is University life and that is the joy of fire alarms. Weekly fire alarm tests took place at my University. Sound good? It definitely is a necessity, however, at 9am in the morning, it is not welcome. A few times I had only just gone to bed and it took me quite a while to realise where i even was, so be aware. I don't know why they insist on doing it so early, I think it is just their joke on students. Furthermore, don't expect these to be the only times the alarm goes off. It can sound in the middle of the day, when you are trying to write an essay in the library and everyone has to evacuate outside. The middle of the night is not a nice time to be woken up either, especially when you have to stand outside half asleep in the rain and snow.

University is a great experience and one that you will never forget. I hope with these few tips and warnings you can go away feeling just a little bit more prepared for the craziness that lies ahead.
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