A place for all kinds of food, crafts and general nerdery
Hello there! 🙂
Now we’ve practically hit the middle of September, most new Uni students are going to either be settling into uni life or just about to embark on it (Universities who start in October, you do baffle me). It’s an exciting, crazy and sometimes overwhelming time and it’s easy to get swept up in the rush of it all and still not really feel like you know what you’re doing.
I am currently with the Open University for my course and so haven’t experienced any kind of “freshers” with them, but I have attended a brick university in my time and I’ve collated my best bits of advice to get through it as smoothly as possible.
1) Meet people!
Leave your door open whilst unpacking. It encourages conversation. Putting music on helps too and gives you a bit of noise if you’re the first one there.
Once you’ve moved into your dorm room, gravitate to the kitchen. Everyone ends up there on the first night. It’s like the Big Brother housemates meeting each other for the first time. Embrace it. And just to add, YES there will be at least one person you gradually get more and more annoyed with for either noise or hygiene reasons. Sorry. Them’s the rules. I do not know a single person who has adored everyone they live with in first year. If you did, I only hate you because I’m jealous 😉
When you get to your course, talk to people. Engage. You’re going to be seeing most of these people nearly every day for three years. Being stuck in a tutorial room in deathly silence is no good for anyone. You’re all in the same boat and you will more than likely be bumping into one another in the library at 2am the night before an assignment is due (it will ALWAYS happen no matter how much you think you’ll get it in early)
2) Attend the Fresher’s Fair with an open mind and Join groups
If you have a love of debate, animal rights, ju jitsu, or even sci fi then find the society on campus. The student union will be able to tell you what groups exist. And if the group doesn’t exist, make it. You’ll find like minded people and you’ll be able to widen your circle of friends. Plus you have something to put on your CV at the end of Uni which is always good. Just make sure you find out if you like it before you pay money.
3) Locate the nearest big supermarket and find the quickest route there.
I cannot begin to tell you how important this one is. It seems logical and it seems basic but so many people use the longest way possible just because it’s easier to find. When you’re trying to lug 2 weeks worth of shopping home with a hangover, it can be a life saver. It’s also handy because it means you’ve explored the town and no matter what happens, you know where you are. Gotta respect safety. Speaking of which…
4) Have fun but be safe.
Yes, I sound like your parents here but it really does make a big difference to your enjoyment of the first year. There is always one person who goes too far and ends up spending their night either crying, throwing up, starting a fight or kissing somebody that they wouldn’t touch with a bargepole in the cold light of day. Sometimes all of that in one go….ick! No-one wants go out for the night with that person as there is always some kind of drama and it ruins their time. Don’t let that be you. Always line your stomach and every so often, throw a soft drink in there. Never get to the point where you end up at the hospital for alcohol poisoning (happens at universities more often than you’d think) Your body will thank you later 😉
5) Set up a food kitty
If you get on with some of your flat mates and have similar tastes in food, club together to buy things in bulk (pasta, cheese, potatoes, even veg etc) and try and eat together as much as possible. It’s cheaper to make bigger amounts of a meal than an individual portion. Shepherd’s pie, lasagne, curry, Chinese and roast dinners are all very good “crowd pleasers” and if any you have a signature dish, you can take turns in wowing each other. It also ensures that you are regularly having proper meals and a nice relaxed chat rather than squirrelled away in your room with beans on toast and a re-run of Jeremy Kyle.
6) Invest in a decent student cook book or know good recipe websites
You will be grateful when you have gotten bored of tinned beans and pasta with cheese. There are a number of books on the market all claiming to be the “last book you will ever need”. Look for one that breaks the dish down into the cost per servings (super helpful for both point 5 and point 7). I personally recommend “Nosh For Students” by Joy May. It’s around £7.99. The book has a few vegetarian recipes. although there is also a vegetarian book in the same series. It focuses on using the simplest set of equipment possible so there are no pasta makers or expensive whizz bangs required.
I also recommend sites like Pinterest. It’s free to join and you can find so many different easy, interesting and cheap dishes on there. They are also handy for costume ideas, craft ideas and cheap decoration ideas etc 🙂 But my love of pinterest is for another post haha.
If you know you’re going to miss someone’s particular dish, ask for the recipe and ask them to show you how to cook it. Then you can always whip up a comfort food when you feel home sick.
7) Budget carefully.
Cheap food is not necessarily bad food. Things like Smart Price/Basic/Value pasta, chopped tomatoes etc are not bad at all. I may be working full time and have more money than when I was a full time student but I still don’t like to waste it. I have lived on £30 for food a week. Honestly, it was doable 🙂 No buying ready meals though. No-one needs the infamous Fresher 15 to become the Fresher 45. Fresh food, cooked from scratch is always better for body, brain and wallet.
Look for deals in the supermarkets and stores like Poundland, Primark and Savers. All help keep the costs of toiletries and clothes down. Use your student discount to help (see point 9)
8) Fancy Dress/Union nights out
The best nights sell out quick. These are usually things like Skool Disco, Naughty 999 and, if your uni has it, fetish night. Buy your tickets early and keep them somewhere safe,
Your costume does not need to be elaborate. And given that you will be having to lug it around all night, the simpler the outfit, the better. Lots of accessories are sooo tempting when in the fancy dress shop but they soon become a pain when you have to try and juggle them to get your money out, or when you end up dropping them everywhere once you’re past the point of no return of sobriety.
Simple, cheap and comfy (as much as physically possible). It’s always good to create a dressing up box (yes, I know we’re not 5 any more but honestly, it’s fun) that you can just put stuff into at the end of the night and know you can reuse at a moment’s notice. Tartan mini skirt used for Skool Disco, also very useful for a friend’s 80s rocker themed birthday night when teamed with a leather jacket, boots and leggings 😉
As mentioned above, Poundland, Savers and Primark, excellent sources for fancy dress stuff on the cheap.
9) Get the NUS EXTRA card.
You may know that as a student you can get a number of discounts off at places like New Look, Blue Inc, Prezzo, Frankie & Bennys, Claires Accessories etc. You probably don’t know that your student ID card for campus is NOT your student card for the discounts. You do have to pay for the NUS Extra card (around £12 or so) but you save so much more than that by the end of your first year. http://www.nus,org.uk shows you, on average, how much you can save and also shows you all the discounts you can get.
If you don’t know whether a shop does a student discount, ask them. It’s only going to be yes or no. Remember: if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
10) Last big one: ENJOY IT
Yes, you are gonna feel homesick occasionally. Yes, you are going to worry about money and uni work. These are all valid feelings but try and enjoy your time. There is honestly nothing more exciting than being surrounded by new ideas, concepts, people and experiences. Embrace it. Go with the flow. Be spontaneous every now and then. Have a picnic at 2am on a wednesday, just because you can.
Make the crazy memories you’ll wanna remember for ever
Good luck!!!!! 😀