STARTING UNIVERSITY ADVICE | LIFESTYLE8:30 AM
I’m now actually studying at the THIRD University I’ve ever attended. “Why?” I hear you cry! So there was Monash University in Melbourne, Australia where I went for an admirable TWO WEEKS (can I get a round of applause for that stellar effort?). Then there was the University of the West of England in Bristol, UK. I did my whole first year there and it was incredibly lovely. Now, I’m currently in my third week of lectures at the University of East London where I’ve just started my second year. When my boyfriend and I got sick of long distance, we decided to get a flat together and I’d transfer my University course to London, so now I’m here!
Given the fact I now know everything about uni, I wanted to impart some of my infinite knowledge upon you. No, but seriously. If you saw me a year ago, you’d have seen a self-conscious girl who had doubted her every decision in starting uni. Now, I feel fab. I wanted to write down a few tips and advice to help anyone out who may be um-ing and ah-ing about applying, or to those who are stressed out about starting. It’s such a scary time, so if even one of these pointers make anyone feel a smidge better, I’ll give myself a pat on the back and will have deserved that half a tub of Ben & Jerry’s I just inhaled.
University isn’t for everybody
Now this first point isn’t intended to put anybody off. If you’ve always wanted to go to uni, then I say HUZZAH and will contact UCAS for you personally and pay all your student fees (ok that was a joke.) If you’re interested in courses or there’s a particular job you want that will require a degree, then get yo’self to approximately one million open days and do lots and lots of research.
However, it’s also really worth considering internships, apprenticeships or going into work because there’s plenty of opportunities for those of us who are much better at hands-on stuff rather than academic stuff. My 19 year-old sister is one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met, and she dropped out of uni after a few weeks, but she’s now doing amazingly well and not stressing herself out on a daily basis.
The most important thing I could possibly try to drill into your minds is that you cannot let someone else make such a life altering decision for you. Whichever path you choose will be the right one for you. And hey, if you want to change it later down the line, then that will be up to you and will also be absolutely right. Parents, family and friends might try to influence your decision, but they’re not the ones who will have to live with that decision. So think everything through and whatever you end up doing will be A-OK.
Save, save and save some more
Should you decide that an eternity of student loan repayments and living off beans for three years is #GOALS, then you’re going to need some seeeerious dollar bills behind you. I’d 100% recommend getting a summer job before uni starts. Spend Half/Save Half is how I managed my shopping addiction last summer, but still managed to arrive at uni with enough to survive. It’s all about being as sensible as physically possible and learning to live within your new budget. I actually found it sort of hilarious and fun at first. I was playing games with myself like “Ha ha, I bought new clothes and makeup this week and now I have 47p to feed myself for the next two days”.
It really was stupid, though, so I decided to pack in my shopping so that I could really enjoy student life. It’s much more worth keeping £20 back for a night out with new friends than splurging it on that lipstick shade you have by two other brands but NEED in this different one.
Throw yourself in
Chances are, you guys aren’t going to get itchy feet like me and flit from uni to uni. You’ll probably be in the same place for three years, so the people around you are so important. You’ll be making new friends through your course, in your halls or flat building, ones you meet at work or in the pub. So, put the best version of yourself forward. None of this angsty teen shit. I know it is potentially the most stressful situation you’ll have been in up until that point in your life, but leaving my door open while I was unpacking and sharing that bottle of rose wine with my new flatmates was the best thing I could have ever done. We were really close all year!
On top of that, the Freshers Fairs and events are always good. You’ll get loads of information on societies, club nights, discount vouchers for Dominoes and, more than likely, a bag of free pens, badges, lighters, wristbands that you’ll be tripping over in your bedroom for the rest of the year. Even so, it’s a fab place to start meeting people and finding your way around uni and the new city you’re living in.
ALWAYS ask if there’s a Student Discount
As a student, you’re gonna learn the importance of skimping and scrounging. Plus, it’s finally time to get one-up on those companies who have had so many of our precious pennies all these years! There are plenty of stingy bastards out there who don’t advertise their student discounts, but plenty of companies do actually have them. Some of my favourite places to make use of my discount are Superdrug, ASOS, Yo! Sushi and ASK Italian.
Take good care of yourself
FRESHERS FLU IS REAL, GUYS. I didn’t believe it. My friends didn’t believe it. But within a week I was bed-bound and wondering if I’d ever be able to breathe out of my nose again. Stock yourself up on cold & flu remedies. For the love of all that is holy, take a hot water bottle. In the name of jesus, buy dry shampoo so that when you’re too ill to shower (perfectly acceptable excuse) you don’t turn up at your lectures looking too stank.
Obviously there’s a whole ‘don’t drink too much or take drugs or stay out too late and make sure you eat’ speech but I’ll leave that one in the capable hands of your parents, siblings and nearest and dearest.
When all is said and done, it’s going to be fantastic and one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences ever. If it seems daunting now, just picture me a nervous wreck this time last year (already behind on my subjects and still very reluctant to speak to anyone but my flatmates) and look at how I’m singing uni’s praises now! If you guys have any more tips and advice, or even any specific questions, I’d love to hear them.
Lots of love,