Starting your first year of university is an exciting time, with new adventures on the horizon and the chance to learn more about a subject you love, new people to meet and new places to explore. As well as being lots of fun, it can also be a stressful time – and often the first time you’ll move away from home and live as an independent adult with real world responsibilities. If you’re about to start your first year at uni, read on for our 10 top tips to survive and thrive as the new semester kicks off…
Arrange your accommodation
Knowing where you’ll be living during your first year (and who with) will help take some of the pressure off your university experience. Finding the right student accommodation can be tricky. Whether you’ve opted for the traditional experience of living at halls, or you’re choosing a house share instead – it’s easy to leave these things to the last minute, and then panic when it gets hectic! Try and be as proactive as possible in making your choices, and talk to prospective flatmates online if possible to make sure you’ll all be a good match when it’s time to move in.
Plan your packing
Another top tip for ensuring your first year gets off to the right start is to plan what you need to pack and get started as early as possible. You probably need to take far less than you might imagine – and shopping for some of the creature comforts designed to help make your accommodation your own is all part of the fun once you arrive.
Make a list of the essentials you need to bring with you, and cross them off one by one. Try online stores with convenient home delivery if you’re particularly time-strapped. Supermarkets like Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s are great for basics like sheets, pillows and duvets, while Ikea is a one stop shop for kitchen essentials and things like lights, storage and desks.
Get some sleep
With your new schedule of partying and lectures, it’s easy to let your sleep patterns go awry – but understanding the importance of sleep is essential to making a success of your first year at uni. Plan a few early nights and organise healthy sleep patterns early on so you have enough energy to study hard and socialise with your new housemates.
Indulge in some meal planning
Food shopping is one of the most expensive parts of being a student, but it needn’t be. With some forward-planning and a little effort, you’ll soon be able on the right tracks. Make a weekly meal plan, and try to limit your regular food shopping to once or twice a week to eliminate waste. There are lots of great food blogs offering inspiration online too – try Budget Bytes and Mob Kitchen to add a few low cost, yet tasty dishes to your repertoire.
Enjoy Freshers Week
Freshers Week is the most action-packed week of your first year of uni, and it’s a great chance to make friends and get to know your class mates. You’ll also be able to grab a ton of freebies, so get out there and enjoy yourself!
Take some work experience
Work experience is a great way to try out your chosen profession and learn some skills which will look great on your CV. Check your university career centre, or ask companies directly if you’re feeling particularly proactive.
Don’t isolate yourself
It’s easy enough to feel alone even when you’re surrounded with new people, so be sure to keep in touch with your friends and family back home. Talk to them on the phone, use Skype where possible, and visit when you can – staying in touch is essential for preserving precious bonds while you’re a student.
Learn to manage your stress
Practising mindfulness or similar stress-busting techniques is a great way to help secure your mental health, and particularly important during a time of great change. Make time to relax and unwind.
Become a bargain hunter
Bargain-hunting will soon become a way of life now that you’re a student, so learn how to shop around for the best finds. There are always lots of affordable shopping destinations close to universities, including the ever-popular pound shops. These are great for stocking up on basics such as loo roll, kitchen paper, cleaning supplies and even stationary, biscuits, tea and coffee without spending a small fortune.
Enjoy the experience
You’re only at uni for a very short time, and it’ll zap past in a moment. Make the most of your time as a student, and enjoy it! Join clubs which interest you, take up a new hobby, and discover what really makes you tick. You’ll soon have a degree and your whole life ahead of you, so make those university years count.