Tips for settling into university
Be the model housemate and don't forget to scrub up.
Get to know your new home
Starting uni often means relocating to a new area, and almost always means working and socialising in new places. The sooner you feel comfortable in your new environment, the better. So, like all good relationships, take time to nurture an understanding and familiarity. You and your campus need to bond. Walk around, get recommendations, know where you need to be and when, and make sure you introduce yourself to your library, lecture theatre and other must-go venues.
Go for spoke
A bicycle is a student’s friend. They’re good for your health, ecologically sound, portable, convenient, and cheap to maintain. Get one.
Feed your brain
Get thee to the library. See Advice On Getting Through Your Course for directions.
Feed your gut
And feed it well! Fast food can be a tempting option for the cash-strapped and hungry – especially as you stumble home in the wee small hours. But it’s important to get some nutrients. Buy a cookery book or two, go to the supermarket, and create some culinary delights. Smart shoppers go to local fruit and veg markets, which are usually cheaper than their indoor competitors. Those with iPods, get the locare app to find your nearest fruit and veg market, and to learn what’s in season.
Feed your flatmates
What better way to buy – I mean make – friends? Throw a dinner party. Better still, enlist the time and support of all your flatmates by taking it in turns to cook for one another. That way, you’ll all eat well, you’ll get to know each other, and you’ll create a happy, co-operative living environment. But, as with all aspects of communal living, don’t push it: suggest this idea, and, if no one bites, shrug, and then scoff alone. And if you’re stuck for inspiration, try www.beyondbakedbeans.com, the student cooking site.
Sure, you need to study hard, but you must also perfect the body beautiful. Don’t neglect those abs. Most campus unis offer good sports facilities and very reasonable rates, so there’s no excuse not to use them. City unis, too, will have a host of sports clubs and exercise activities. Join a football team, dive in the local pool, sign up for orienteering – just do something to balance the less healthy aspects of student life.
Student digs are to be your home for at least your first year, and, with just a pinch of flair and imagination, they can feel warm and homely. Put a little effort in. Buy a sequinned cushion, put up a poster, adorn your desk with photos of your family and friends from home. Oh, and standard-issue bedding is usually a little on the stingy side, so bring your own duvet from home. But beware of the rules: the accommodation office will want you to foot the redecorating bill if you decide to paint a mural. The room maybe yours for the year, but, come June, you will have to give it back, and it must be left as you found it.
Minimise noise pollution
Keep the volume down – which means playing music at a level your mum would deem acceptable, and keeping your voice down when you come home late. Flatmates will forgive you if you wake them up once. Maybe twice. By the third strike, you’ll start to make enemies.
Students spend a lot of time on social networking sites. Sign up to yougo.co.uk too, to meet other freshers and to find out more about undergraduate life.
The freshers’ fair, usually staged during your first week at uni, is a chance to sign up to clubs and societies, to settle in, chat to local bank managers, meet your student union rep, hear about uni facilities, and grab a freebie or 20. Do go.
Make friends wisely
There are some key people to befriend in your first year. The halls porter should be high on your list. If you forget the door code, or find yourself locked in the communal bathroom, you’ll want him onside. Other useful allies? Your tutor. Your neighbour. The smartest student on your course. The bouncer and bar staff at the uni club. That bloke up the hall who brews cider? Walk on by his door...
Take pride in your appearance
Or, more importantly, your scent. Many a student forgets to wash. Don’t be one of them. Your uni will provide facilities, so scrub your body and your clothes regularly and well.
Pick a fight
Another student stereotype is the activist. Unis have been hotbeds of political angst since the dawn of time: many a |riot has started on campus. You don’t need to be militant, though. Maybe you’re passionate about the environment. Maybe you take issue with the education policy of our coalition Government. Perhaps you just feel that the library needs to have a better-stocked vending machine. Whatever your gripe, join a society, take a stand and speak out.
This is a skill that takes some perfecting. You want to be friendly but not suffocating, organised but not bossy, generous but not needy. This means doing things like agreeing which kitchen cupboard is whose, and never straying out of yours without permission – but not allocating every last millimetre of kitchen space on day one, and trying not to screech too loudly if anyone uses your ketchup without permission. It means always doing your washing up, and doing it soon after eating so as not to clutter up the kitchen – but giving others a bit of leeway if they’re slower off the mark. It means remembering which bedroom is yours, so you don’t accidentally crash into your flatmate’s space uninvited late at night. Get it? Model housemate, that’s you.
Or, more specifically, understand shared student bathrooms. Pack a washbag and take it to and from the bathroom every time you use it, thus ensuring that you have everything you need, and that you aren’t unwittingly funding your flatmates’ salon-sleek looks. Next on the bathroom checklist: cleaning. You need to. Bathrooms very quickly get very dirty. If you don’t have a cleaner in your halls or shared flat, work out a rota with your flatmates and honour it (even if they don’t! Be the better flatmate). Wash your towels regularly too. And invest in some flip-flops.
Sorry to be dull on the subject of cleanliness. Bleach traditionally isn’t the first noxious liquid that students reach for during their first year – but it’s crucial that you do, on occasion. Clean your kitchen, clean your bathroom. You know what they say: tidy home, tidy mind.