Moving to university can be daunting so, with just a few weeks to go until term, Danusia Osiowy offers some advice on living away for the very first time.
For most students, moving to university is their first experience of living alone and the sudden change in lifestyle can lead to a mixture of excitement and trepidation.
Whether it’s the complications surrounding paying your own rent and controlling your finances, or simply the challenge of having to wash all your own clothes, feed yourself and clean up while also trying to work and study, university life can provide a host of challenges.
But for many it also represents a first taste of freedom, an opportunity to make friends for life and an experience which shapes their independence – one which some look back on as among the best times in their lives.
So, here’s a taste of what you can expect if you’re heading into the great unknown and some tips on how best to prepare.
Almost all student bank accounts offer a free overdraft facility so how do you know which to use? Focus on banks which offer the longest interest-free period and choose one which gradually decreases your overdraft in the years after university. Exceeding your borrowing limit can damage your credit status and banks may refuse to lend to you later, when buying a car or getting a mortgage.
As well as using your bank’s app, it can be worth looking at other software, such as Cleo. Cleo offers insights into your spending by sending Facebook messages, including a warning when you’re close to your overdraft limit. For information, visit www.meetcleo.com
With excessive partying, a new-found sense of freedom and independence and the lure of living in close proximity of the opposite sex, encounters are inevitable. Stock up on contraception and stay safe.
Pasta and pesto is the Ant and Dec of the food world and many young students fall in love with this delicious double act. For just £3, this will comfortably feed four hungry friends.
Get into the habit of planning your meals, doing a shop once a week will save a fortune. Batch cooking is your friend so you can freeze the leftovers and always have a dinner in the freezer. Never go shopping on an empty stomach.
Students, as a rule, are not as safety conscious as they should be. In general, you can avoid nasty scrapes by always travelling home with friends.
Never leave your drinks unattended, don’t flash what cash you have in front of others and keep your phone out of your pint. Carrying a personal alarm with you is a good idea. Many men see these as women’s accessories, but figures show men stand a much higher risk of being attacked in the street.
Fancy dress nights, washed-up pop stars, pub crawls, pub golf (or pub anything for that matter) and up and coming bands all feature in the opening fortnight.
Freebies are thrown from many a stand at the Freshers’ Fair, with everything from pizza vouchers, tote bags and pens to condoms, bottle openers and t-shirts. If ever there is a reason to talk to anyone and everyone, this is it.
Societies and clubs are a gateway to new friends, experiences and skills. There seems to be a club for almost everything, from the usual suspects of rugby and netball to the more niche options of quidditch, cheese appreciation, ultimate frisbee or learning Mandarin.
With so many people from so many environments meeting for the first time, it is no wonder ‘freshers’ flu’ is rife in the first term.
Register with a doctor and pick up a HC1 form if you are under 25 to claim free prescription and medical costs. Research shows students are susceptible to mental health issues. Most universities have a free and confidential counselling service so there’s no need to suffer in silence.
Reading lists can be long and you don’t need to buy all books on them. Talk to tutors to prioritise your purchases and, unless you need a certain edition, an older version will be just as sufficient.
Buying online or second-hand can offer savings. On the subject of tutors, they are there to help you on your university journey, so if you are in doubt about anything, just ask. They don’t bite and will welcome your honesty.
From selfies to belfies, you are only as good as your last Insta-update. But remember, the bad photo you forgot was taken from Freshers’ Week can come back to haunt you in your first interview out of uni. Proceed with caution and untag wisely.
Drinking games are inevitable, and often mandatory if you join a club or a society. Pace yourself. You might think you can hold your own when downing shots but hugging the toilet is not a good look. Follow tried and tested advice before going out – drink a pint of milk and eat a meal.
After going out eat cheeseloaded carbs, grab a coffee and your sunglasses.
Whether you’re using your mobile to download, stream, keep in touch with old school friends or arrange nights out with new uni mates, avoid heart-stopping bills by taking charge of your mobile phone tariff.
Make sure you’ve got the right contract by using your bills to pinpoint your average use and then compare prices online. Consider pay as you go bundles, giving a better value allowance and additional control of your bill.
If you have a PlayStation, Xbox or a subscription to Netflix you’re likely to be become one of the most popular people in student halls when everyone is looking to save money and have a night in, although students are ingenious in creating ways to keep themselves amused.
Our favourite pastimes included corridor cricket, truth or dare, and switching two housemates’ possessions around and timing how long it takes for them to notice.
A key perk of being a student is never having to pay full price. Haircuts, clothes, cinema tickets, railcards and rounds of five drinks for a fiver, use your discounts for all they are worth (see Dot.com discounts).
For all the fun of uni, it can be daunting and hard to adjust to life away from home, and it simply isn’t for everyone. There’s no shame in using the services of your Student Union and seeking advice from tutors, parents and friends before making a final decision. Know your options.
Students own more expensive goods per head than the rest of the population, according to the Home Office, and one in three students fall victim to crime each year. Contents insurance may sound boring, but you need to be on your guard in a new environment.
Dial *#06# on your mobile for your unique IMEI number as this is the first thing police will check for when recovering stolen property. Register your mobile’s IMEI and the serial numbers of your electronics on www.immobilise.com to help you recover stolen items.
In case you wonder what they actually do, the NUS represents seven million students across the UK and is a handy resource if you ever you have a problem. For an extra £10, you receive an NUS Extra card which offers free entry into bars and clubs and is a ticket to an untold number of eating out, music, technology and travel deals, as well as discounts on other uni essentials.