High five – you did it! School is over for good and you’ve successfully secured your place at University. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to celebrate, kick back and relax during your well deserved time off.
With your Uni start date creeping closer, there’s so much to think about you might not know where to start – don’t sweat. Whether you’ve been planning all year or you’ve left it to the last minute, our fuss-free guide will make starting Uni as easy as ABC!
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Managing your finances
Sorry, sorry, sorry – while you may have thought you were done with Maths when you put down your A-Level exam paper, a bit of number crunching now will be worth it in the long run. Heading off with a clear view of your finances will mean you can have an enjoyable and stress-free Freshers. I know that starting Uni and the concept of all that debt can be a scary thing, but make sure you’ve got the following sorted and you’ll be absolutely fine – I promise!
Finalising student finance
With a bit of luck, you’ve already sorted everything out with your Student Finance, but there’s never any harm in double checking. Make sure you know exactly how much you’re going to be receiving every month to help with your tuition fees, as well as any Maintenance help you’ll receive.
If you’ve also applied for a separate loan, ensure you’ll have this in your bank account in good time for your start date – monetary issues are the last thing you want to be worrying about whilst you’re trying to settle in.
When all that’s taken care of, you can move on to:
Budgeting your money
Taking all your guaranteed loan income as well as any savings you’re planning on bringing with you, pit these against your expected outgoings. Start with the concrete stuff: rent, phone bill and anything else you have an accurate figure for.
Now, that little number you have left is what’s going to cover all your other outgoings – I’m talking food, travel, socialising, clothing and anything else you may need. With the remainder of your spending budget, allocate a portion of that to each of these things, so that your income and outgoings eventually balance out.
Set up two bank accounts
It’s not a bad idea to open up a second bank account to help make your finances more manageable. Keep one for all your unvarying bills like your rent and phone, and the other for all your living costs, like food and fun. This will mean that even if you have to survive on Super Noodles for the last week of the month, you’ll still be able to pay to keep a roof over your head – hooray!
Download a banking app
Now when your parents have a dig at you for being glued to your phone screen, you can whip out your banking app! Not only is this a wonderful way to get them off your back, but it will help you keep your finances in check, wherever you are. If you’re trying to decide between getting a Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino or have a slightly less glamorous instant cup when you get home, a quick look at your financial situation could provide the answer.
Consider getting a part-time job
Upon seeing how little ‘fun money’ you’ve got when the boring stuff like housing has been accounted for, getting a part-time job is likely to look pretty tempting. If this is something you think you can balance with your course, get in there early.
With thousands of students coming to each campus, the competition for these little money earners is high. Check out your options on Student Job, which makes finding part-time positions in restaurants, cafés and bars simple and easy. You can not only see what’s available now, but they’ll send you weekly updates with the latest offerings. Ring around and drop in with your CV if at all possible – first impressions are best made in person, after all.
Deciding what to take
Despite what you may think, your lifetime possessions don’t need to come with you to University. Not only will your collection of Harry Potter memorabilia add little value to your life as student, your bijou box room is probably cramped enough without any added clutter. However, there are a certain number of items you most certainly will need:
You are an adult now, and therefore paperwork is officially a thing. As much as this thought may displease you, make sure you have the following in a folder:
- Passport & Driving licence
- Course acceptance letter
- University admission acceptance letter
- Passport photos (for all the cool societies you’re going to join)
- Bank account details
- Student loan documents
- National insurance card
- NHS number – just in case
Cooking utensils & crockery
While it’s nice to have your own set of bits ‘n’ bobs to cook and eat with, the reality of the matter is that everyone will be using each other’s before long. So to avoid being easily angered when someone smashed your China plate, don’t go mad in either quantity or quality of the items you take. Some solid basics, from a basic range will do just fine:
- Wooden spoon
- 2 x knives, forks & spoons
- Sharp knife
- Chopping board
- Baking tray – one word: bacon
- Kitchen tongs – again, bacon
- 1xglass, mug, plate, bowl
- Bottle opener/corkscrew (to help get the party started)
- Oven mitt
- Kitchen towel
- Laptop – don’t forget your charger!
- Extension lead
- USB key (to store all the kick-ass essays your going to produce)
While some basics are useful, there will, in fact, be shops closeby for all your shopping needs – unless you’re going to Uni in the Sahara, that is. Start off with:
- Toilet roll (in case you’ve had a long journey)
- Shower gel
- Shampoo & conditioner
- Hairbrush, bobbles, clips
Linen & towels
- Bath & hand towels (a spare set might come in handy, too)
- Duvet & pillows
- Bed sheets (base sheet, pillow cases, duvet cover)
- Blanket/throw – for the chillier months
- Mattress protector – because, students
- Plastic wallets – to be super duper organised
- Pens & pencils
- Compass/calculator (for the mathematically gifted among you)
- Writing pad
- Dictionary & course specific books
Hopefully you won’t be needing to remedy any bumps and bruises, but if you do:
- Cotton wool
- Paracetemol & Ibuprofen – hello hangover!
If your Nan really insists on offloading some of her extensive cupboard contents onto you before you go, don’t let her go overboard – a few basic items that don’t need to be refrigerated are more than enough to get you going, e.g:
- Clingfilm & tinfoil
- Tinned food – with £1 in your bank, Baked Beanz will never have tasted better
- Coffee & Tea – you’ll need the caffeine, trust me!
Getting to know your surroundings
Part of the excitement of moving away is the adventure a brand new location presents. You’re bound to love your new place, but to make life easier for you in your first few weeks, spend some time getting familiar with your surroundings in the following ways:
One of the easiest ways to see your new town is just that – to go out and see it! Opt to arrive early and it’ll mean you have plenty of time to get to grips with the place before Freshers is in full swing. Map out the quickest route into the centre, look out for your nearest supermarket and find the local transport links in order that you can:
Check your bus & train routes online
Whether it’s planning ahead for your first trip home or checking out your options for rainy-day trips to lectures, you’ll find all you need to know online. Depending on your distance from Campus and any loved ones back home, it may be worth getting a train or bus pass, which will help keep your ticket prices low, meaning more money to spend on all the good stuff.
Many people make friends for life Uni, but relationships like that don’t happen by magic. While trying to meet people can be nerve-wracking for some, the key is to push yourself and socialise as much as possible.
Arriving late runs the risk of having to squeeze into friendship groups that are already established. While this isn’t impossible, it will require much more effort on your part, and you could end up feel like you’re playing catch-up. At uni, people latch onto friends quickly – normally in the first week or so – so arriving early is key to creating those initial relationships with your peers.
Making the most of Halls
Befriending your flatmates is the most accessible way of making pals on arrival in Halls. Whilst it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get on with those living closest to you, there’s nothing better than re-grouping in the living room after a long day of lectures and laughing it off over a game of Ring of Fire. Plus, you’ll learn to look out for one another, making sure you always get home safe on nights out – something that should keep Mum happy.
Getting involved with freshers
At Freshers, everyone is a little nervous, and everyone wants to meet pals – the perfect recipe for friend-making! Liverpool University puts on some amazing events each year, including ‘Pokemon Go Tours‘ and ‘Army Fancy Dress’, and it’s more than likely your chosen Uni will be doing the same.
With so much to talk about, starting up a conversation with a stranger couldn’t be easier. Go out, get involved, and you’ll have a pack of pals in no time.
Joining societies & clubs
Freshers’ Fairs are just one way to find out about the societies and clubs offered at your Uni. Joining up to a few of these will not only allow you to develop new and existing passions and hobbies, but it’ll make friend-making easy as you’ll be surrounded by people with similar interests to you. It’s a great way to diversify your current friendship groups to ensure you meet people from all walks of life and don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Now, I don’t want to go all ‘nagging parent’ on you, but safety is something to bear in mind before you head off on your new adventure. A one-on-one chat with yourself about how you’re going to avoid any mishaps at Uni should do the trick. There’s no need get all serious, and certainly no need to panic – a quick reminder of the obvious things like familiarising yourself with your surroundings, keeping an eye on your belongings and going home in groups should prevent you from encountering any problems.
I know Uni can be an exciting time, and it’s easy to get carried away and influenced in an effort to fit in, but do yourself a favour and don’t overdo it – the horrendous facebook photos ‘from the night before’ won’t be worth it – I can promise you that.
Best of luck to everyone starting Uni this month – you’re going to have the time of your lives’. Let me know what you’ve found most difficult during your preparations in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to help.