Top Tips for Freshers Week
The long summer is fast drawing to a close and its time to prep the old noggin for what’s ahead. Some of our readers and the Director of Student Support at the University of Surrey share their advice for freshers week and beyond, helping to ensure you start your university career as you mean to go on.
Before you arrive
- Get yourself kitted out before arriving for freshers week but don’t go too far. Remember you’ll still be part of society, although it won’t feel like it at times, so it’ll be easy enough to sort a few bits and pieces once you’re there. Here's our Ten Essentials to Take to University.
- Get a student bank account sorted… you’re gonna need it. Use comparison websites to work out the best deal for you. Be cautious of freebies and make sure you go for the best option financially.
- Check the welcome emails your university will have sent you and follow their various social media channels for the latest info, advice and guidance before and throughout your first year. Check your timetable online and find out what other info is available to you.
- Check our Get Ready for Uni pages for a complete guide to the ins and outs of preparing for university.
- Arrive as soon as possible once you’re permitted to occupy your halls of residence. True to nature, people form bonds fairly quickly in these early stages. Although your early friendships are unlikely to last there’s nothing worse than feeling left out from the get-go. Pluck up the courage and leave home ASAP.
- With early friendships in mind, make sure you don’t lock yourself up in your room whilst your new flatmates get to know each other. If you hear chitter chatter from the kitchen get out and introduce yourself, no matter how daunting.
- Once you’ve made an acquaintance or two, don’t stop there. Use the safety in numbers to go knock on a few flats and make some more.
- Get yourself unpacked early doors. You’ll be a busy bee in the days and weeks that follow and home sickness is sure to rear its ugly head eventually. Make your place as comfortable as possible from the get-go.
- Use the support and help available to you. There will probably be dedicated student support teams, made up of student mentors who have ‘been there and done that’. International support teams help those new to the UK with airport arrivals, orientation and possible culture shock.
Freshers Week and beyond
- Get to know your surroundings. Start with your halls – where’s the laundry room, reception, friend’s flat, bar and so on. Then move on to your wider surroundings. Think along the lines of: Where are you going to do a ‘proper’ food shop? What’s your route to lectures? How much is living in this city really going to cost you? Hint – make this outing a bonding experience and explore with a friend.
- There’s a lot laid on for you during freshers and the weeks following, don’t waste it.
- Go to the fresher’s fair(s). This is your chance to have a look at what societies are on offer. Societies provide students with the perfect opportunity to pursue their extracurricular interest, no matter how quirky. Some stranger societies include the Hummous Society at the London School of Economics and the Harry Potter and Gin Society at the University of St Andrews.
- Fresher’s fairs are also packed with freebies, in fact, you’ll probably get enough pens to last the year as well as a few bits and pieces for your new flat.
- Work out a budget and stick to it. Get your cash out at the beginning of each week, it’s far easier to keep track. Too many people come, spend way too much money during the early weeks and are replying on 10p noodle packs by the end of semester one.
- Student loans won’t come in straightaway and there can be delays, so don’t turn up completely empty handed. Here’s a complete guide to managing your money.
- No matter how much of an introvert you are try to keep up a friendly relationship with your flatmates. It’ll make living issues much easier.
- Contribute – whether you’re friends or not, living with a group of people is a team game. Help out with the washing up, general cleaning and other household chores. A rota is useful in these situations. Do all you can for a quiet life, giving you more energy for your studies.
- Keep your personal space clean and tidy especially if you’ve got your own bathroom facilities. Little and often avoids bigger issues later down the line.
- Maintain personal hygiene. Aside from the obvious health implications, smelling like you’ve not had a shower for a few days is not a great icebreaker.
- Food – you’re not living at home any more so you’ll be responsible for your diet. No need to obsess over keeping it balanced but make sure you’re eating a bit of fruit and veg as well as the usual carbs and protein. Your health and wellbeing depends on it.
- Discuss the flat’s food policy early doors. What are you sharing? How are you going to make it fair? Some flats go for the ‘all in’ approach which is great for developing relationships but can prove complicated. Others go for a few shared items e.g. milk, bread. And others will go for an unadulterated ‘buy your own’ policy. Whatever you decide make sure everyone is happy.
- Go for big food shops. A good old bulk shop will cost you a great deal less than daily trips to the local express store and mean you’ve always got something to eat at home.
- If you’re not sharing or cooking together, cook in bulk and keep things refrigerated or get them in the freezer. This is a far more cost-effective way of looking after yourself.
- How safe is your university city/town? The Complete University Guide publishes annual data on the rate of student-relevant crime.
- Stay responsible on nights out, especially when there’s alcohol involved. Eat well beforehand, familiarise yourself with the area, and keep an eye on your belongings – particularly your drink.
- If going home late at night try to do so in trusted company.
- There’s a fair deal of ‘experimentation’ going on at university but do you know what you’re getting involved in? If in doubt, steer well clear.
- Please see our dedicated pages for a comprehensive guide to staying safe and secure at university.