If you’re heading off to university for the first time, you’re probably wondering what on earth to expect. So why not ask the experts: the universities themselves? We spoke to the folks at Bangor University to get their advice for new students. Here’s what they had to say.
What happens during the first week?
The first week at university eases you in to student life. It is your chance to find your feet, get to know your new town or city, meet people and deal with practical stuff like registering with the university.
Most universities organize a Welcome Week for new students. Usually there are no formal lectures, but you’re likely to get an official welcome to the university, choose your modules, automatically become a member of the Students’ Union and meet your tutors and lecturers. You may also get the chance to attend library tours, IT sessions and module fairs.
Your orientation information from the university will include all the essential information on what you should attend and when, fee payments, choosing modules, and other important information. Take at look at your university’s website for details of what they’ve got planned.
You’ll also have plenty of time to meet new people and get to know your flatmates and your course mates, through informal get-togethers, socials organized by your university department, student nights and Students’ Union events.
Your time as a student is the ideal opportunity to try out something new or get together with people who share the same interests and hobbies as you. During the first few weeks most universities hold a clubs and societies fair, so that you can sign-up for sports clubs, academic societies and all sorts of other societies. They usually have free taster sessions so you can try things out before committing to joining for the year.
At Bangor University, membership of all our clubs and societies is free so you can join in with whatever takes your fancy – from drama and photography to things like underwater hockey and cheerleading – there’s something for everyone!
Coping with leaving home…
Moving away from home into a new environment can be daunting, but just remember that everyone is in the same boat and it’s perfectly natural to feel nervous, scared and apprehensive.
Whatever you do, don’t spend the first week stuck in your bedroom. This is the best time for you to meet as many people as you can – so make every effort to socialise with your flatmates, course mates and other students. Don’t pass up opportunities to meet up with people – the more people you meet, the more chance you’ll have of finding like-minded people with similar interests.
Clubs and societies are a great way to find friends outside your flat and course so it’s also a good idea to join a few of these.
It’s perfectly natural to feel homesick at times – especially once the hustle and bustle of the first week is over and you start settling-in to your new routine. Try not to get overwhelmed by it. Finding a distraction, like going out with your friends or watching a film, can often help you get over it.
If you are struggling to cope and are finding it hard to adapt to life at university, don’t forget that there is help at hand. Your university’s student services department will have lots of advice and coping strategies, and there will be professional people you can talk to about any difficulties you may be having. Your personal tutor is also there to help you deal with any problems – not just those relating to your course.
Look after yourself and don’t blow all your money…
While it may be tempting to live on takeaways and binge-drink your way through university, you’ll soon find that this will leave you bloated, hungover and broke. Whilst going out is obviously a big part of student life, try not to go overboard, especially in the first week.
Learning to cook will save you a huge amount of money in the long-run and it’s a good idea to club together with your flat mates to buy kitchen essentials and ‘buy one get one free’ offers.
You’ll undoubtedly spend more money than usual during your first week, but in the first month you should get an idea of how much things cost and what your average weekly spend will be. There are plenty of apps and websites that can help you budget your money. As a student you get discounts in many shops, restaurants, takeaways and cinemas – so get into the habit of asking about student discounts whenever you go to pay for anything.
This is also the best time for you to sort out practical things, like registering with a doctor, finding the cheapest supermarket, joining the gym and finding a part-time job. Look out for adverts for university jobs fairs, which are typically held in the first few weeks.
For more advice on settling-in at university, take a look at Bangor University’s Get Ready for University YouTube channel, which features lots of handy hints and tips from our student vloggers.