Help! It’s my first week at university. What do I do?

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02/09/19 Reference this

So, your first week of university is coming up. You’ve spent the past few weeks celebrating finishing your A-levels, on holiday with your friends, partying and basically having the best summer of your life! Now though, it’s time to think about packing up your things, making the journey to whichever city it is you’ve chosen to study in and saying your goodbye’s. This can seem like one of the most over-whelming moments in your life so far and I’m sure you’ll have hundreds of questions running through your head:

‘’What if I don’t make any friends?’

‘What if I start to get homesick?’

‘What if nobody likes the things I like?’

‘What if I don’t get on with my flatmates?’

‘What if I forget to pack Mr Snuggles? Wait, should I even take Mr Snuggles?’

Carrying Mr Snuggles

If you base your thoughts over the next few days/weeks on ‘what if’s’ it can really prevent you from enjoying the experience. So the first, and probably the most important, thing to do is to chill out! Try not to obsess over every little thing because the worries you are having right now you will not remember in 6 months’ time. I promise that the knot in your stomach that seems to constantly be there at the moment will go away, just take a deep breath and relax.

Deciding what to take

OK, so it’s time to start thinking about what to take with you. You’ve already sorted your books, laptop, pens, pencils and all of the things you’ll be needing when your first lectures begin but, what else do you need?

Student trying to decide what to pack

As cliché as it may it sound, the easiest way to tackle this is to make a list of everything you need to pack and to tick things off as you go. Before you start to make your list, do some research into the accommodation that you will be staying in and find out exactly what is provided so you can avoid spending money on items you don’t actually need. It might be best for you to find out exactly how much storage will be available to you as well, there’s no point taking up precious leg room in the car for things that you won’t have room to keep!

Trying to pack everything

Wanting to pack everything you own can be tempting but you need to be realistic about the amount of stuff you are going to take with you. There are hundreds of checklists available online that can be really useful when it comes to packing and you’ll probably get provided with one from your chosen university. Packing the generic things such as clothes, beddings and kitchen equipment can sometimes take over and you can overlook items that you don’t even realise you will need. So, to get the ball rolling here are a few suggestions of things you may have overlooked:

  • Medicine
  • Scissors
  • Cleaning products
  • Tin foil/Cling film
  • Tupperware
  • Fancy dress outfits
  • Hot water bottle
  • Iron
  • Pictures from home (Loved ones, pets, friends)
  • Bedroom décor – Halls tend to be all the same, making your room your own through bedding, lighting and posters can help
  • Speakers
  • Alcohol
  • Cupboard food – Stock up! Towards the end of term, you will appreciate that packet of noodles or tin of soup!

For certain items, it might sound crazy, but the best thing to do is to wait. Wait until you’ve moved in and see what your flatmates bring with them, you can then take a look at what else you all need and make some purchases for things like, microwaves, toasters, hoovers etc. together. It cuts costs and stops you from living in a flat with 6 toasters, 4 microwaves and 5 hoovers stacked in one corner!

Final Preparations

Before you set off for your first day of university, there are a few things that you might want to do first to help you feel a bit more prepared. If you haven’t visited the city you are moving to since your open day and you have some time to spare, go and take a look around. It may cost you a train journey and a couple of hours out of your day but if you can get to your chosen city for the day, do it. It can be scary enough walking into the university and not knowing where anything is and an entire city can feel 100% worse. Familiarise yourself with where the shops are as well as the bars and clubs you might like to try. Find out where the nearest healthcare facilities are and find out if you need to re-register at a local dentist and doctors.

Discovering a new city

Something else which can prove to be really important is to try and find out who your flatmates are ahead of time. Usually universities will release the number/name of your residence before time, so if you follow your university on social media you may be able to locate the people you will be living with before you move in. It can make things slightly less scary if you are able to connect with people prior to meeting them in person.

Your very first day

So you’ve done it! You’ve looked at your list, you’ve checked it twice and you’ve managed to shoehorn everything you need into the car. You’ve sat staring out of the window on the way to your halls for what feels like a lifetime and you’ve finally arrived. Now what?

Once you’ve got yourself checked in and you’ve located where you’ll be living, the task of unpacking begins. When you arrive there is a chance that you will be the only one there for the time being, people tend to filter in at different times throughout the day so you could either find your flat full of other students and worried parents or your flat could be completely empty! The best thing to do is to keep the door to your room open, if one of your flatmates then arrives whilst your unpacking it is much easier for them to pop their head in and introduce themselves as they start unpacking themselves. Don’t just do this on your first day, try to keep your door open if you’re in your room throughout the first week to encourage your flatmates to talk to you.

Leaving the door open to new friends

In a generation where making friends is as easy as clicking a button on someone’s social media account, it can be difficult to approach people in real life. Gone are the days of running on to the park at 5 years old and speaking to the first other kid you see and simply saying ‘Hi, what’s your name? Want to be friends?’ Except, it really is that simple. Remember that everyone you see passing you on your first day, lugging huge quilts, pushing trolleys stacked high with boxes and fumbling with their new flat keys just want to make friends too. The best thing to do is to simply introduce yourself to as many people as you can on that first day. Don’t get me wrong, some of them you may not cross paths with again, some you may only pass in the hallway now and again and exchange a polite ‘Hi, are you OK?’ but some of them will become friends for life and you don’t want to miss out on an opportunity like that!

Depending on when you arrive, there will most likely be some form of freshers event taking place in the evening. You might feel obliged to go to it but if you are feeling over-whelmed and tired from the day, do not force yourself to go if you really only want to get in bed and binge a boxset. Remember, everybody is different and whilst some people will evolve into social butterflies straight away, some people can take a little more time to adjust!

The rest of the week

So your first day has come and gone and your nerves are starting to subside. As well as attending the many events that come with freshers week the best thing to do it to organise a few things yourself with your flatmates. Simple things such as offering to cook everyone dinner, playing ‘ice break games’ or having a party in your first week can really help with getting to know people. You may feel like you don’t have anyone to invite if you organised a party but you would be surprised at the amount of people that would come if you simply knocked on a few doors in your block or posted an invitation on your halls forum or social media. Keep in mind that everyone is in the same boat, freshers are actually very friendly with each other and you will be surprised at how easy it is to make friends.

Making new friends at uni

Take advantage of any freshers fairs that are on to see if there are any sports clubs or societies that you might like to join, meeting people with the same interests as you can be comforting whilst you’re getting used to your new independence!

This first week will be something you will refer back to throughout your whole university experience, with the friends and memories you make lasting a lifetime. Don’t forget to use the support around if you need it, from the university to your friends and your family and don’t forget, to have fun! Good luck in your new adventure, you will have the time of your life!

Group of students having fun

Final tips:

  • Call home: You may be having the time of your life but your family back home may be worried. Remember to let them know that you are OK and reach out to them if you feel slightly homesick, sometimes just hearing someone’s voice can make you feel much better!
  • Don’t forget about your friends: Whilst it is important to make new friends, remember to check in on your friends back home. If they have started university as well, check in on them and share your experiences.
  • Freshers flu is no joke: Stock up on medicine and be prepared, it lasts a lot longer than you might think!

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