Looking back at university I’m reminded of how I felt before I arrived on campus. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. If you’re going to university this Autumn, let me reassure you that university isn’t as scary as it may seem from the outside. Once you’re in, you’ll realise that it’s actually not that bad at all! If you go with this mindset, it will help you to adjust a lot faster. Here are 10 things I wish I knew before going to university.
#1 Don’t take everything from home with you
This was a big one. I literally took my whole room from back home with me in first year (plus kitchen stuff). You DON’T need everything! It took me a long time to realise that I don’t need my box of miscellaneous items from when I was 16. I can live without it for a few months. There are so many things I took along but never used. Trust me. You’ll thank me when it’s time for you to move your stuff out of halls at the end of first year. So when packing, ask yourself “will I actually use this?” Another little tip, check if your halls have an elevator. Mine didn’t. I was on the 4th floor.
#2 Take advantage of the opportunities on campus
Not only is this a great way to find a new hobby and make friends, but it will also prove to be very useful later on. When it gets to the final year, there’s suddenly a lot less time to go to societies, trips or take part in internships. Do as many of these things as you possibly can before final year (don’t kill yourself trying to do too much though!). You’ll get to final year and be glad that you’ve got most of the relevant experience you need to get a job after uni out of the way. Your CV will thank you.
#3 Add everyone on Facebook & join the group chats
I’m one of those people who hates using Facebook. But at university, it’s actually vital. Never have I used Facebook messenger more than while at university. MANY group chats will be made. From your class group chat, to your group project group chat, to your halls group chat, to your “let’s go to London!” group chat. With this in mind, it would be pretty handy to have a Facebook account. You don’t want to go around giving out your number.
#4 Be open
You WILL come across people who have come from all over the world. These are people who may do things differently to you or see the world in a completely different way. I believe that we don’t just educate ourselves through the subjects we study, but also the people we meet. University is an amazing opportunity to learn about different cultures from the next big thing to visiting those countries; the people. At my university, there are thousands of international students and I was fortunate enough to learn so much from them. It’s safe to say that I’ll be doing a lot more traveling in the coming years.
#5 Join a few societies, but not all of them
Joining societies will help you to get to know like-minded people, and it will ultimately make you feel more comfortable. Some societies also run trips to different cities which is an amazing opportunity if you’re an international student and would like to explore the new country you’re in. Or even for those of us who are studying in the country in which we live and we’d like to play tourist here for the day. That’s totally ok too! I do it all the time. At my university, a few societies also ran trips where they explored the city where my university is located. This a great way to get to know your surrounding areas.
#6 Step out of your comfort zone
For many of us, going to uni is already a big step out of our comfort zone. But why stop there? Try out a sport you’ve always wanted to try, maybe even run to be part of a committee for a society? Maybe create your own society? Maybe study abroad for a term or a year? The point is, do something which you’ve always wanted to do but never got round to it for various reasons. University is the perfect place to try out new things before you enter ‘the real world’. Another tip, a lot of the time you have to go up to people. The reality is that not everyone will come to you.
#7 Everyone is in the same boat
The majority of the people in your halls and the degree you’re studying are new to this! If you’re the only one going to your university from your sixth form or college, don’t see this as “I’m going there on my own”, see it as “this gives me a better opportunity to get to know new people”. I went to university with this mindset and it meant that I forced myself to get to know people because I didn’t have anyone I was familiar with. This really helped me not to hide away and keep to myself.
#8 Budgeting is a thing & you should do it
The amount of horror stories I’ve heard from people who went to Freshers and blew pretty much all of their money before they properly even started uni is unreal. Don’t let this be you. And you really don’t need to buy a Greggs breakfast every day. Think how far the money you used for a one-time-snack could actually go if you spent it on groceries. Work out how much money you’ll need each month for food and drinks and make sure that money is always there. It’s a lot cheaper to buy food to cook in your halls than to eat out or get take-out.
#9 Read the books in your reading list before the end of summer
Summer is long anyway, you’ll have free time at some point to get a head start on reading all the compulsory books. When I got to first year, I was surprised at how quickly we went through books in seminars. We literally went through a new book every week. But maybe this was also because I studied Art & English Literature. Either way, it’s good to have the reading out of the way before you’re thrown in the deep end. With knowledge of the books out of the way, you can focus on researching them in depth.
#10 Don’t buy all the books on your reading list
This kind of goes against my last point but a solution is to check if some of the books are available as eBooks online. Maybe even check out your local library. While there are some books that will be useful for pretty much all of your time at uni, there are other books that you’ll only need for 1 year or even 1 month. In this case, check your library to see if those books are available and just loan them out for the time that you’ll need them. It will save you loads of money (books are expensive!). If you’re still worried about this, email your lecturers ahead of time to ask which books are worth buying. But if you don’t want to do this, alternatively, you can buy used books on Amazon and eBay to save a bit of money.