If you’re going to university in September, you’ll probably have lots of expectations about what life is going to be like. While most people’s first years are completely different, there are several things that most people experience at least once in their time as a student. Some things will probably turn out as expected, however, student life is definitely a world away from life at home.
Freshers week & nights out
Freshers week – the highlight of the university year. If you’re a party animal already, fresher’s week will be your time to shine. Despite the week being unarguably exhausting, it provides a perfect opportunity to make friends and get to know the people you’re going to be living with for the next year. Obviously, fresher’s week is also a great time to let yourself go away from mum and dad and enjoy the first of the many nights out uni has to offer. However, don’t expect all future nights out to be like those in fresher’s week. Eventually, the several bottles of expensive spirit you brought with you in September will run out and you’ll spend every other night in the club with the cheapest entry after downing whatever alcohol Aldi has to offer under £5.
One of the most important things to remember about fresher’s week is to not get sucked into spending lots of money on tickets for events. Be sure to buy a wristband from your student union, however, don’t buy any tickets for any big Facebook events that may come up. These are often fake, and you probably won’t end up going to everything you buy a ticket for.
Many people think that going to uni means going out 7 nights a week. Although some super human students make this happen, the reality is staying in most nights because you either can’t afford to go out or can’t be bothered to.
Food shopping & cooking
The weekly trip to Aldi, Lidl, Tesco or wherever you can get the cheapest food in your area will usually turn out to be the worst half an hour of your week. Not only do you end up spending copious amounts of money you don’t have on food you won’t end up eating, the trip carrying your shopping back to your student accommodation will seriously test your fitness levels. If you’re lucky enough to know someone with a car, you’ve hit the jackpot – make sure to become their best friend so that you don’t have to suffer the pain of the weekly walk to the shops.
The myth of the student diet is not always entirely correct. Although it is too easy to live on McDonalds and Deliveroo every day of the week, alternatively, uni is a good time to learn how to cook properly and impress your parents with your skills when you go home. So, make sure you get your student cookbook ready and resist the urge of the takeaway as your uni years may bring out your inner chef. Or, if this doesn’t sound like you, a lot of students do rely on trusty pasta and various pre-made sauces.
Lectures & uni work
No matter what you go to university thinking, attending all your lectures is actually a lot harder than going to school every day. Unbelievably, waking up for a 10am lecture or seminar is pretty much impossible once the motivation of the first few weeks wears off, especially if you go out the night before. By the end of the first semester, it almost becomes a competition to see who has the worst percentage of attendance. However, don’t believe it when people say that you can easily pass your course without attending lectures at all – you’ll regret all the lie-ins and lazy days in June.
It’s likely that every future university student will hear the phrase “first year doesn’t count” before starting. Although for the majority of courses this is true, first year shouldn’t always be considered as a year of relaxing and doing no work; the workload is definitely small compared to other years, however, you might find you’ll fall behind if you don’t take it seriously.
Living in student accommodation
Living in student accommodation will be sure to give you the ultimate university experience. Whether you live with two people or ten, spending your first year in halls will push you into meeting new people and making new friends. Living and spending every day with essentially a group of strangers can seem daunting at first, but you’ll quickly forget what it’s like to not live with them.
However, staying in student accommodation is definitely not always plane sailing. Make sure to bring your noise cancelling headphones or a good set of ear plugs because halls are noisy, whichever one you pick. People will not stop talking in the courtyard or walking past your room shouting after a night out just because you have to wake up early in the morning. Also, be prepared for the mess. Student flats will generally not be as cleanly as your childhood home and your flatmates won’t always clean up after themselves.
Juggling a part-time job
The reality of being a student is being poor. Unless you have a rather hefty student loan or have worked hard on a gap year, having a part-time job is essential if you don’t want to fall into the deep black hole of the overdraft. Even if you want to ‘concentrate on your studies’ in your first year (aka want to go out and not worry about having to go to work the next day), you’ll need to earn some money eventually.
The university and the student union are often good places to start for part-time work. Jobs there will usually be close to your accommodation and will pay well, so what’s not to like? Yet, these positions in and around uni will be snapped up fast so it’s probably a good idea to look at retail and bar work also.