University, especially in the first few weeks can feel as though you’re just muddling your way through; trying to ensure you’re in the right place at the right time, attempting to decide what tastes good but also has some sort of nutritional value and just generally keeping on top of things. Even now, it can feel as though I’m just muddling my way through, although the further along I got, generally I’ve found the clearer things become. However, being me I like to, where possible have things straight in my head so I’m able to plan and organise myself accordingly. If you’re anything like myself, then this post may be useful for those of you heading off to uni this year…
I am studying Italian and German at the University of Reading and am heading into my second year now, after taking a gap year (in case you didn’t already know!). If you’re unsure about university; whether or not you’ll like it or if you’ve picked the right course etc. I’d highly recommend a gap year. I and a couple of my friends who also took gap years found that it strangely gives you a yearning to learn again, especially after working!
Anyway this is what I’ve found over my first year of Uni, living in Halls:
- You really don’t need that much stuff. Most Halls/accommodation really isn’t that big anyway an
d you will end up taking far more than you need. My main essentials were a few snaps from home to pin up, stationery, a printer (I used this to death) and a couple of books. For all of my kitchen bits I just headed to Wilko‘s and got myself everything I needed for £100-ish (including a smoothie-maker and George Foreman Grill).
- Freshers will be the death of you. If you don’t get freshers flu, you have an immune system of steel. Our Freshers lasted a fortnight, of which I only lasted for a week and a half.
- Your Halls may not be as you may have imagined – I was placed in Halls with all Asian postgraduates, whose English really wasn’t great… BUT it works out and it all ends up o.k. I was then placed in Halls with some first years who were lovely and even ended up living with my now boyfriend.
- You have to put yourself out there. Everyone is new and hardly knows anyone, so everyone is also looking to meet new people and make friends. I messaged a girly from one of the accommodation group chats as I knew she was also studying Italian and now we’re best friends!
- Meal plans are always a good idea. They’re boring and food prep is horrid, but it saves you from eating anything and everything when you’re hangry (and you actually end up saving yourself a few bob)
- Always over-budget. You’ll be surprised by how little you can actually get away with spending, but if you over-budget then you won’t get any nasty surprises when your car fails on you – or you get a puncture in your first week of Uni, as I did.
- The people you meet in Freshers won’t necessarily end up remaining your best friends for the rest of the year. This is one I previously refuted and I am still really good friends with a couple of people from Freshers, but the majority do end up following their own path.
There are definitely stereotypes about University which are true, such as Freshers Flu and those who you become acquainted with in Freshers, but loose touch with. However, hopefully this is useful as a little insight into what first year is like.
If you have any questions, please just drop them in the comments below!