After 16 years of constant education, you will think that you’re supposed to know exactly what you want to do with your life. After all, you’ve completed your GCSEs, your A-levels (or equivalent) and now, the third year of university is coming to a close. After that last exam or that last coursework deadline or presentation has passed you realise, you have suddenly entered the ‘real world’ and the uncertainty of it all starts to get to you. You’re not quite a ‘student’ and at the same time, technically you are; this odd waiting period between being an undergraduate and your graduation ceremony causes you to look back at all the things you think you would have done differently.
We at Venus from Mars have come together with this advice piece for our past selves and future freshers, because Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20.
Save that money– Dothrakimermaid
With university comes a student identification card. And when you have a student card, a whole bunch of doors open for frugal shopping. Take as much advantage as possible of the student discount, it doesn’t seem like much but the 10-15% you can save off of clothes, electronics and entertainment purposes really adds up over the years. Be aware of local shops and services that do student deals. Save that money. Buy fruit and veg cheap and in season. Buy your meat frozen (if you eat it), or if your parents are willing, buy a large amount of meat back home and put it in the freezer when you arrive on campus. Don’t always buy brand, store own can be just as good and for a much lower price. If you’re doing a ‘big shop’, are you going to need a taxi home or will it be cheaper to do it online and get it delivered (if applicable)? Alternatively, shop around for cheaper groceries in general, understand that Aldi and Lidl are going to be cheaper than Tesco or Morrisons and that M&S foods, as delicious as the adverts cause them to look, will be out of budget for a while.
Know your campus’ and local area’s provided services – Dothrakimermaid
Check your library out. There are so many books on the reading list that are expensive. Again, this is about saving money. Sometimes the lecturers will say an entire book is relevant and will only talk about one paragraph for 10 minutes. (This sounds lazy, but believe me, sometimes the recommended reading isn’t all that necessary). University is an uncertain place. It can be lonely, there might be a counselling service that will be helpful over the course of your stay. There are always job opportunities on campus. Cafés, bartenders for the student nights, till workers and stackers in the campus shop, some universities even hire students to take tally of students in the room for room management. Look for societies to take part in. Or start one. University is all about ‘broadening your horizons’ and interacting with people of different walks of life, but sometimes you really need some like-minded individuals to help settle you some. At least go to the taster sessions and one social, if they’re not for you, say goodbye, no fouls done.
Socialising – Dothrakimermaid
Please, realise that being friends and living with your friends are two different things. Prepare for possible fall out. Be prepared to drift a little from friends back home. Especially if they’re going to different universities. Timetables and term times don’t always sync up, you’re not going to see everyone over the holidays, and unless you have a lot of money, travelling across the country regularly to see people is out of the question. (Get a train 16-25 railcard, and a coach pass, depending on your location and theirs you can decide on which route is best). While students are known for excessive wild nights out, don’t expect to go out clubbing every night (depending where your campus is). Some clubs near universities usually have a student night with cheaper entry and drinks, there is always the night out organised by your student union, not to mention local pubs, bars, and the ever familiar house party. Some people prefer pub-grub and actually being able to carry a conversation over bass you can feel and sloppy dancing, others prefer a more comfortable (and cheaper) option of chilling with some friends with a bottle or three of wine (or tea, or coffee). All you need to know is that whatever option you prefer, you will find someone sharing the same sentiments, either way: make your nights out your definition of fun!
“The University Experience” – Dothrakimermaid
American media and older siblings and friends can make university look like this magical place where you’ll find your group of friends for life, the person you think you’ll spend the rest of your life with, where you’ll change and discover new parts of yourself and where you get your future together. The truth is that doesn’t always happen, there’s no real “Uni Experience”, go in with lower expectations, a lot of first years enter Uni and after the festivities of Fresher’s week find themselves underwhelmed by their course or campus life. Just try and make your time at Uni something that you enjoy and benefit from, that’s all you can really do.
Student Housing – Catsmith92
From student tuition being increased to job prospects being as depressing as watching the ten o’clock news; it’s the horrors of student housing that really is the cherry on the top.
I would like to put it down to the fact that I’ve had a bad experience, but I know it’s not just me. A lot of students get ripped off to live nine months in squalor, where you’re having to battle with the house’s long-time residents, damp and mildew, and your downstairs toilet is the set of “Bugs life” and, in some instances, masking tape is the only thing holding your window together. And let’s not get started on landlord/ladies, ‘cause that’s a whole different article.
Since students usually pay by room, at one point you’ll realise that you’re paying an extortionate amount per month to live in some filthy, shit-shack where the electric always cuts off half way through your Freaks and Geeks marathon.
So, here is my advice: Don’t just go for properties that are advertised as “student living.” Most of the time, you can get better deals from renting a normal property.
It’s true! Just because you’re a student doesn’t mean you’re segregated from other properties. Universities recommend you to go through student housing because the leases will match your student year. One downside hunting for a regular-Joe place is that landlords/estate agents may be disinclined to offer you a showing because you’re a student. So, maybe keep that one to yourself until you have to tell them.
Yet, it’s semi-understandable why we get fobbed off. Let’s face it, students don’t have the shiniest reputations. From pre-drinks where half of the campus turns up on your doorstep to finding that old bag of onions your Mum bought you at the start of the year, we’re not exactly the most responsible bunch. Even so, there are a few of us who go to university to learn. Yes, learn! And even though we want a good time (like everyone else in the world), we’re not hell-bent on ripping off the staircase’s bannister.
When it comes to bad student housing, it’s down to where your campus is situated. I’m sure not all student houses are as bad as I’m describing, however I don’t know any different because my campus is located in a piss-poor town. Your rubbish student living is more-than-likely down to the economic situation of the place you’re living in, because I know (from countless of ads on the internet) there are some pretty swanky student digs out there in the big cities. So, it’s either your town’s money situation or, y’know, your landlord (again, whole different article…).
The best advice I can give to a fresh-faced student is: Look hard and look long for that dream abode. It might not be home, but I guarantee, student housing ain’t the only way to go.
Mixers in a Can is a False Economy – lassomagicarescarte
I wish I could have told my cheap ass self this back in first year. I didn’t like beer because I still hadn’t acclimatised myself to its urine-esque flavour, and wine was for old people. Somehow whiskey and rum by themselves were horrible, but add coke and something magical happened! But this was where the problem lay – I didn’t want to buy a whole bottle of Jack Daniels because it was expensive and I felt that it would be the first step towards becoming a full blown alcoholic and spending my final days drinking in a workhouse, selling my hair for money and singing. But the mixers in a can, on the other hand, were so impossibly cute and harmless looking (and generally on a three for two offer) that I gladly paid the extortionate prices and kept coming back for more. Within the space of maybe two weeks, I had already paid the cost of one of the larger bottles, and over the course of the year I probably blew a small fortune on those devil juice cans. I should have just bought the bottle, which would have lasted me a lot longer, and I could have mixed it the way I liked. Better yet, I could have bought some of the supermarket brand bottles and had a real party, like Gatsby mixed with Macklemore.
Dust Your Room!– lassomagicarescarte
I know, I know, it’s not exciting, it’s the kind of inane shit your parents do in their house, but I’ll tell you what dusting and hovering once a week or so means. It means that for a start, your room is tidy and you won’t have Kim and Aggie coming over and screeching about dust mites. Secondly, and far more importantly, it means you aren’t spending HOURS cleaning on that inevitable final week where you have to get rid of the debris of the past year only this time your room is full of boxes of your stuff (and a sad mound of mixer cans) and you’re stressed out of your brains and everyone else is having a barbeque in the two minutes we have left of the British summer because they dusted. You can save yourself a lot of tears, sneezes and frustration by just not living like an animal. And bleach your toilet, because that shit can get cray cray nasty.
Be Yourself – Alicia Ballard
Whilst the other advice you read may be more practical, my university experience has been more about growing into myself as a person instead of growing up. And, as a Student Ambassador who often gets a thousand questions about personal experience thrown at her, I offer this: Be Yourself. It’s the number one cliché, it’s ‘simple’, but it’s true. University – for me – is the place where you can be comfortable to show your true colours! It’s where I finally found my confidence and my voice, where I was finally ‘allowed’ to wear what I wanted, and finally found out what I wanted from life. It’s not like school or college, where history eludes you and you fall into ‘convenient friendships’. University offers you likeminded people (and not so likeminded) and not one of them knows your name. Scary? Definitely. But, remember, everyone’s in the same boat! So don’t be nervous to join a society; sign up to EVERYTHING at Fresher’s and give it all a go! Don’t be afraid of not getting on with your flatmates; there are more people out there! And don’t be held back by stereotypes or other people; if you want to do something, do it. Your university experience is yours, no one else’s. So be the person you want to be, and shape it just for you.
Looking back, is there any advice you wish you were given as a fresher or any experiences you would promote for new students? Comment below, let us know!