Starting University can be a complicated mixture of emotions. It is a daunting prospect, especially for those who are leaving home, yet equally, it is an amazingly exciting moment.
You are facing one of the largest transition periods of your life, with many challenging but brilliant experiences incoming. It is the first taste of real independence, one which some take in their stride far more naturally than others.
Everybody approaches their first year of University at alternative social progression stages. Some more advanced and confident, others less outgoing and haven't yet developed their social skills.
People are coming to University a lot later now, due to increased fees, gap years and trying alternative routes. So there is always a combination of ages, life experience and therefore maturity levels.
Ultimately, for any newcomer, the key is ensuring that you come across approachable and genuine in your first impressions. And the fact is that you will change dramatically from the person who walks through the door on day one to the person you will be when you graduate in 3-4 years time.
It is always good to have a handful of 'go-to' questions and topics for meeting new flatmates and course mates which you can use to build a foundation of early comfortable conversation where you can hopefully find common ground.
Finding out their ages, hometowns, course, interests and also how they are feeling about starting University, living away from home and if they are looking forward to Freshers etc
Regional banter is a big thing at University - the North v South divide and people's different accents. Playing jokes on this topic can immediately give you an in with a group by making stereotypical assumptions which can become long-term, personal jokes, helping you settle in as you look to make new friends.
(Also be prepared to receive the jokes and even make fun of your own Town/City.)
Alcohol is an excellent way to break the ice and lower any early, awkward guards. If you are not a keen or big drinker, you are likely to be around this culture at University so be prepared to embrace it to an extent, rather than rejecting it entirely.
Even if it is on a smaller scale, it will help you integrate naturally as a group and learn about your new flatmates and in-turn for you to relax and open up around them.
You may be surprised at how quickly you can build really strong bonds at pre-drinks and on your first nights out.
Just be aware not to get too carried away and horrendously embarrass yourself (though this will happen at some point). Doing this on the first night out may land yourself with an unjustified reputation.
For many, it will be the first experience of large sums of money in your account at once.
Student Loan Day (SLD) is one to enjoy, you have to treat yourself in some way, it's like a tradition.
Your first semester will be trial and error, and ultimately, you kind of need to overspend to realise how to budget better longer-term. As it is completely new, you need a benchmark to work from going forward.
Largely, budgeting at University is a matter of personal balance and sacrifice. Whether you are prepared to go without x to have more of y or vice versa.
Some would prefer to eat better quality food or enhance their comforts whereas others may prefer to weigh the majority towards nights out and experiences, etc.
Everyone is different and you will discover what you value more over time.
However, it is wise to create a mental picture of your expenses if you are not planning to keep to a strict, organised budget.
Work out how much money you have remaining post bills, and you can work from a ballpark figure of daily or weekly spend.
There are many useful apps which can calculate this for you based on a time period you select.
Just make sure you don't blow your whole capital on Freshers Week and end up with £23.47 in your bank because it's a long way until the next SLD.
You can always work part-time in order to tie you over at University financially.
This may be depending on the intensity of your course, but particularly the first year, the load should be light enough to commit to a few hours of work a week, or even weekends.
Retail or bar work can be a pleasant release from the study life and provides many social opportunities to increase your circle and meet different kinds of people away from your housing situation.
For a lot of new University students, and young people who move away from home, domestication is one of the hardest skills to grasp.
It can also lead to animosity amongst housemates as people begin to clash in their own ways of living.
The most simple advice which can be shared is to do your washing up or at least keep it out of the way of others.
If you do not want to wash up right that moment, fair enough, but don't leave it in the personal space of those who need to use the kitchen.
Nobody is perfect or a domestic Goddess at the age of 19-22 and everyone will have their own unique, weird shit that they do. But common sense and basic consideration for everyone's space and values is all that is required.
It can also be a beneficial idea to speak openly about cleanliness and general housekeeping in the communal areas. Once you have an idea of each other's mindsets to tidiness it can be easier to manage and maintain a habitable environment.
Though it will be a little while until you get into the deeper areas of hardcore study, when all the fun blows over, you want to be ready to learn.
Essentially, you are investing a lot of money and time in coming to University, a non-compulsory choice, to do something which you have selected, out of hundreds of courses to do - so to not take it seriously is pretty ambiguous and a massive opportunity cost, in truth.
It is good to get into an early, capable rhythm and learn about your studying preferences. That is:
- Where you study best
- Which music you work most productively to
- Friends you work well with
- Your most effective revision techniques
- Which time of day suits your revision habits etc
All of these will contribute to the perfect revision cycle for longer-term success when you enter the period of crucial deadlines and there is no room for error.