Whether University will be ‘the best time of your life‘ or a ‘few years of dragging misery‘ really does depend on the person. However, everyone that has been to Uni will probably agree on one thing – it’s a pretty significant stage of your life. And who doesn’t want to make the most of it?
If you’re about to go to University, or have just started, you have probably been hearing an endless amount of tips, advice and stories. We all have. If you’re like me, especially, then you might have read EVERYTHING there ever has been to read about your journey ahead, from how to make cheap vodka taste nice, to referencing like a pro.
Many of us have heard every tip there is. So, why do we still start off completely clueless?
There isn’t a student out there that hasn’t said ‘I wish I was told this..‘ at least once. No matter how prepared we are, we eventually get the shocking slap in the face. So, I took it upon myself to ask some fellow students to tell me tips they wish they were told.. before it was too late. So that, unlike us, you’re not left to figure them out by yourself.
Dobby is a
‘Don’t be fooled, less money doesn’t mean less food, it just means more crap food.’ – Emma, 2nd Year.
Uni makes you fat, it’s definitely a scientific fact. Freedom doesn’t combine well with low funds. And if you’re sat there thinking to yourself ‘I’ll be different! I will go to the gym all the time and cook all the healthiest food‘ then you are in for a surprise, because that probably isn’t happening. Or at least, not until second year, when you have to go a size up on your wardrobe (which you can’t afford) and you have no choice but to start a strict low-everything diet and move into Pure Gym. If you really want to avoid getting fat, you will need all the determination in the world, and hold onto it for your life. Otherwise, just accept this new look.
Become one of us..
You don’t have to join the dark side. Just a society. Joining a club is a huge part of uni, not just to meet people but to feel like you’re truly a part of something. It’s easy to lose your sense of place at uni, because it might be the first time when you’re a part of an institution this big! (I don’t believe there is any sixth form with this many students). It can make you feel very small, when you go to the same place very day and yet see different people each time. Only good things come from joining societies – new friends, a sense of belonging, always new things to do and a chance to be involved with the uni.
‘If I could start again, I’d have joined a society at the start of my first year.‘ – Georgia, 2nd Year.
And remember that time is ticking.
‘Join societies from the start, ’cause later it might be too late.’ – Caitlyn, 1st Year.
The truth is, it’s never too late to join a society, they will always take you in. But, joining later on is never the same. It might be a waste of a membership fee when you’re already close to the end of the year, or all the ‘getting to know people’ activities are long gone and you actually stand out as a newbie. So, even if you’re too busy with all the freshers stuff or a little too drunk to realise what day it is, try not to miss those society fairs and first socials!
However, if you haven’t yet, join a society no matter how late it is! Late is better than never, right?
Let yourself be desperate.
‘Use being a student to your advantage and always ask if they do any student discounts, even if you already asked last week.’ – Tomas, 2nd Year
Accept it – you’re skint. You know it and everyone else knows it. And that’s fine – you should do EVERYTHING you can to save money. Can you get 10% off if you sit there for 5 minutes filling out a survey? Do it. Seriously. Even for that quid. When you’re a student, every pound matters. There is a huge difference between spending a fiver less on a night out – it might be able to feed you for another few days. Or maybe it’ll save your arse when you’re 5 pounds short of your phone bill.
Do not feel embarrassed for trying to save money, you have the
absolute right to do that. Do not feel obligated to leave a tip when you haven’t even got a job. Do not feel bad for not donating your spare change to a charity, when you are probably in your overdraft.
You can do all those things when you’re in a full time job.
‘Ask around for membership (or loyalty) cards at any pubs you go to. They usually have a card that’ll get you discounts.’ – Joseph, 2nd Year.
Challenge accepted.. or not.
‘This isn’t an assignment you can do the night before.’ ‘Hah! Yeah right, watch me.‘
Well, yes, you can definitely write 2000 words in a few hours. I’ve written blog posts longer than that in a short evening. But do not mix ‘just writing’ and ‘academic writing’. When you can’t write a single sentence without having a way to back it up, reference and question your own existence, then two hours of writing turns into three days. And I’m not exaggerating.
‘It doesn’t matter if you know exactly how to answer a question on an essay, be ready to do days of research regardless. Unless you can reference it, then it doesn’t count.’ – Emma, 2nd Year.
How to lose friends?
Be in the same group for a class project. Just like I said above – the same goes for any other type of assignment, whether it’s a practical piece or a group presentation. Do not underestimate your deadline, and do not overestimate your class mates. It always takes longer than you expected and there is ALWAYS a problem.. or ten. Take my word for it.
‘NEVER rely on anyone else on a project’ – Joseph, 2nd Year.
Master the true art.
Food shopping is actually not that easy. It takes a while to master the art of a good food shop, and it will definitely involve a lot of experience and mistakes. What is the perfect food shop? It’s the kind of shopping, where you managed to spend as little as possible and yet you don’t have to go back in there (well at least for a few weeks). And, as well as that, you are eating nice and healthy, inviting-mum-over-for-dinner worthy meals. Some of us never reach that level.
‘You don’t realise how difficult shopping without a car is – order online.’ – Lauren, 2nd Year.
Ordering online is a life saver. Saves you carrying, forgetting something or being distracted by the perfectly set up stock to distract your starving, hungover eyes. However, it’s not as beautiful as it seems. You have to order in advance, especially for cheap delivery, meaning that you might have to go that extra day on cereal. You are also expected to reach a minimum amount to order (Asda’s is £25, Tesco’s is £40!!). That’s completely fine, if you’re planning on stocking up for a few weeks upfront (which actually saves you money) but if you’re living in halls, you might really struggle for space.
‘Do shopping with your flat mates – you could split a taxi, delivery charge or at least reach the minimum amount required.’ – Lauren, 2nd Year.
Switch your best friend.
You know that friend, who you go to every time you need cheering up? To.. eat the pain away? Yeah, I’m talking about the fridge. The freezer is your new BFF now. Most of your fridge contents will be out of date, before you manage to make it down for your first midnight snack. It’s funny, because when you start uni you’re so happy that you finally get to choose yourself what to eat every day (an entire block of cheese for dinner? Why not), but you later come to realise that your meals are now dictated by a new force – ‘what’s going out of date first?’
‘Prioritise ordering frozen and cupboard food – shops use deliveries to get rid of fresh products that are going out of date, even the same day.’ – Me
Lose the script.
You’re starting a new life, in a new place with completely new people. Yes, it’s the perfect chance to start with a clear slate, become someone you’ve wanted to be become. We’d all love to suddenly turn into someone else, but this really isn’t the time or the place. Be yourself, University isn’t role play.
Even if you’re studying drama or performance, do not become an actor in your own Uni life. Not only people will see through it, but you really could make friends for life here.. and you don’t want to make friends based on someone you’re not. Even if being yourself didn’t benefit you in your previous school, don’t forget that University is a whole new world. It’s so much easier to become accepted, no matter who you are or where you’re from.
On the other hand, also don’t fear yourself changing from who you used to be (unless you’re just becoming a d*ck). Be open to all people and all possibilities, Uni is the perfect opportunity to experiment and develop who you are, what you like and who you get on with.
There’s always more..
When I asked what people wish they got told before or at the start of University, I had no idea how many responses I would get. Just imagine how much we would have had our life together if we knew these already! Do you have any tips you’d like to share yourself? Comment below and I’ll make sure to feature them in my next post. I didn’t manage to include everything in this post, so I will probably create a series of blog posts with some great uni tips. So, stick around if you’d like to know more!
If you found these relatable or helpful, then share and tag your friends. Someone might just be needing it!
Kamzonline: Kamila Zielinska