Moving away to university is definitely a blessing and a challenge all rolled into one. Want to stay up until 4am watching Netflix eating instant mashed potato out of a bowl? You can. Figuring out how to adult properly? A little more tricky.
Recent grads will tell you this the best time of your life ever and not to waste it, and they're right. It's the only time you’ll have so much freedom so here’s a few tips on how to get through your first term, from trying to stay out of your overdraft to keeping your parents happy.
1. Figure out your staple meals before leaving your kitchen at home
It’s easy to use food as a comfort, especially when it’s made by someone else. But the responsibility of cooking for yourself for the first time can lead to denial and inevitably, takeaways. Which are indisputably good, but expensive. In the summer before going to uni, write a small list of your favourite meals from home that aren’t too difficult and brush up on how to make them. Whether it’s asking your parents to take you through it, or looking up tutorials online - anything helps! Being able to make a staple bolognaise for example can see you through so much, and it’s super easy to turn into chilli for a Mexican twist. Pasta bake is also a winner… Three or four key recipes can really make a difference and will help if you’re ever feeling homesick.
2. Make lots of new friends, but don’t forget those at home
By all means meet as many people you can, some of your friends for life will be made at university! Come June time though, when everyone returns reluctantly home to opposite ends of the country it helps to have people to go back to. During term time, university is a bit of a bubble - days and nights don’t have the same meaning anymore and it’s easy to lose touch.
So avoid any awkwardness when returning home, take the time to check in with your friends and see how their lives are going. It doesn’t need to be every week, but just let them know you’re still alive and that you’re thinking about them. Besides, there’s literally no excuse for not keeping in contact nowadays with free apps such as Skype, Whatsapp, Facetime, Slack and Snapchat. We've go super fast reliable 200mbps broadband so the “sorry I ran out of credit” line just isn’t going to cut it.
3. Come well equipped
We have another blog post with our move in checklist, but top of the list has to be a first aid tin. There’s nothing so sure as the fact that freshers’ flu will hit at some point during the first term, so a well stocked first aid kit with Lemsips, throat sweets and tissues will be a lifesaver for dealing with illness on your own.
Next: passport photos and ID cards. If you want to join any societies or suddenly need a new photo ID, having a few passport photos handy is a real help. You will need ID cards for nights out and discounts – so make sure you have got plenty of bits of proof of who you are, how old you are and where you go to uni.
Another to get sorted before arriving at uni is insurance. Good news for our residents - your insurance is already included in your rent. But if you're not living with us there are loads of different offers out there available to students that will cover everything from your gadgets to your keys. Contents insurance for your room is a good idea just for peace of mind, but for phones and keys it’s essential because you never know when you might lose those. Remember to check the terms of our policy to make sure there’s enough cover for all your things. Get in touch if you need any more information.
Know your address. Make sure you know your new address and postcode as well as your one at home – in a new and unfamiliar city it’s important to have this info to hand just in case you ever need to grab a taxi back in a hurry. Our handy maps are a good place to start particularly for those you in our Cardiff accommodation plus our friendly 24/7 concierge is always on hand if you need, well anything really!
4. Call your parents for no reason, not just to ask for money
If you’re in your room at night, feeling a bit lost and sorry for yourself, take a second to think about your parents. They probably won’t tell you until you’ve graduated, but it’s a hard time for them as well. They won’t want to tread on your toes, but it means a lot for them to hear from you when you’re happy, as well as when you’re sad/poor.
For me, one of the main things I got out of my university experience was a much higher appreciation for my parents and the luxuries of home that are easy to take for granted. You can make their day just by calling or sending a text, for once asking how they are (and it might make them less concerned about your student loan buying vodka at Fresher’s Week).
5. Have as much fun as possible!
In reality, university terms are not long at all. September to December will fly by and before you know it you’ll be looking for a second year home with your friends. The best way to use your first term is to say yes to (almost) everything. Go to house parties that make you nervous because you don’t know anyone, no-one does. Join a society, spend time with your flatmates and neighbours, go out, make the most of student discounts and you’ll be fine. Universities will give you a lot of slack in first term because they know you’re settling in, so going out on a Tuesday is totally acceptable! And please make the most of that, it’s the best time of your life to do so.