Enjoy being a student, but exercise a bit of caution
Be safe and not sorry
Keep in touch. Phone home regularly. This will remind your family and friends they’re loved – and remind you that you’re missed.
Save some coffers
Students can benefit from all sorts of discounts. It’s always worth asking – especially at museums, galleries, cinemas, sports centres and theatres. Your NUS Extra card (nus.org.uk/nus-extra) should always be close at hand. It entitles you to money off at restaurants, cinemas, stationers, chemists, and other useful places. It costs £10, which you’ll recoup in the blink of an eye.
Throw yourself into student life. Make friends. If you only do one thing in your first week, make a cup of tea for the student in the room next door to yours. A cup of PG tips can go a long way in halls.
Now’s the time to get your love life on track. University throws hundreds of similarly aged, similarly educated, similarly up-for-fun people together. Love is often the happy outcome. Smile a lot.
Buy people you like a drink every now and then. See where things go – but be careful. Protect yourself from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, make sure you register with the university doctor, and never let yourself be pressured into doing things you’re uncomfortable with. Visit brook.org.uk, where you can get free condoms and health checks as well as support.
Know your limits
Get out there and enjoy yourself. But do so carefully. Don’t put anything in your body unless you know what it is and what effects it may have. Even then, take great care. University is great for fun, but know your limits and take care of your new friends. Contact alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk or wukna.org for free, confidential advice.
Think what you might need when you get to university. If you’re in self-catering accommodation, you’ll need pots, pans and the like. Wherever you are planning to rest your head, you’ll probably need bedding. And you’ll need paper, pens and other study aids. Write lists and start to stockpile. A few shopping trips may be required. If you don’t fancy doing it yourself, www.unipacks.com can send your essentials to your new pad.
Watch the pennies
University is a costly experience. The costs are well worth it – but do be aware of debt, which is easy to accumulate, but hard to pay off. Draw up a budget, listing your incoming funds and outgoing expenses. Ideally, both sides will balance. If they don’t, where can you make changes?
Be realistic about your expenses, but also be aware of where you can be frugal if need be. Could you spend less on new clothes by scouring charity shops? Would opting for supermarket own brands cut your food bill?
Get out more
Invest in a railcard or coachcard to make trips home more affordable. Investigate local transport, including bus and train routes, and a few “emergency” cab numbers for when walking isn’t an option.
Take care of number one
If you’re finding things tough, seek help and advice. The Samaritans offer free, confidential support (08457 909 090).
Student Services can help with problems big or small. Watch your health too. Register with the campus or a local GP, and put the NHS Direct number (0845 4647) in your mobile.
Get what you’re entitled to
There’s the tuition fee loan and the maintenance loan. You can get both, but the specific amount of maintenance loan you’re entitled to depends on your household income. To apply online, visit studentfinance.direct.gov.uk.
If life at uni is stressful at times, try to keep things in proportion.