Starting university brings many new experiences. Some you'll be more prepared for than others...
When you start uni, life changes in a big way. And although you’re prepared for some of the new experiences coming your way, there’s going to be plenty more that might catch you a bit off-guard.
To help you get your head around being a fresher, we asked current students what surprised them about starting uni. Here’s what they told us.
1. You may possess fewer life skills than you originally thought
Back at home, with a fully stocked kitchen at your disposal, you probably felt like a master chef. Fast forward to week three of uni, when you're making your 28th spag bol, and you might start doubting yourself.
Cooking on a student budget is a challenge and the tempation to have instant noodles every night is real. But there’s plenty of advice on The Student Room to help you through. Basically, if you’ve never done much around the house before, now's a decent time to learn.
|Discover more about university|
Before we go on, we just wanted to let you know about a series of free webinars being run by UEA to help answer students' questions about university. There are webinars on each of the following themes; the links below will take you to the UEA website to sign up for the next ones:
We've also got an article that explains each of the webinars, where you can find lots more information on what's happening in each one.
2. But you're going to get better at this stuff fast
In the run-up to going to uni, you can expect your parents to spend the whole time a) fussing and b) lecturing you on what a shock to your system it’ll be when you leave home for the first time.
And yep, it might be weird at first if you’re used to home-cooked meals every night. But you’ll be surprised how quickly you adapt.
You'll find more help in our university chat section where other students are discussing the realities of student life. And there's always your smartphone. “Hey Google, how do I boil an egg?”
3. Your new city quickly becomes home
Some people can’t wait to leave home and live in a new place; others find the idea of being somewhere new completely terrifying. Either way, once it's time to go home for Christmas, you won't want to leave...
If you’re feeling nervous about living somewhere new, find your uni on The Student Room to chat with other students there, It can help you get used to the place before you even arrive.
Once you're at uni, get out and explore. You’ll have loads of freetime before your lecture properly start, so make the most of the chance to discover your new hometown.
4. Your studying truly is down to you
If you hated being told what to do at school, you’re going to love the new-found freedom that university brings.
Although you’ll be attending lectures and seminars, you’re going to be expected to do a lot of learning in your own time.
The further you get into uni the less contact time you’ll have, so it’s good to get into your own routine earlier on. Which brings us on to the next point...
5. You’ll have to be organised to succeed
There’s no teacher chasing you for your assignment; no parent forcing you to do your homework. If you want to get a decent grade from uni, you've got to nail the preparation and organisation.
Master the balance of work and downtime with a planning app on your smartphone (or go retro with a wall planner or diary). By keeping track of deadlines, you can make time for a social life...and any paid work commitments too.
6. Making friends is so easy
Before uni starts, it's standard to worry about making friends. But university is such a good time to get to know new people. Everyone turns up knowing no-one, and so they will be totally up for making new friends.
Plus, with things like freshers events and societies, you can meet people with similar interests to you.
7. You might find things in common with those you least expect
It's easy to stick close to the first few people you meet. But if you can open yourself up to keep chatting with everyone, you could discover an even wider group of mates.
Alternatively, if you’re going to uni as a mature student, don’t worry about being left out. Everyone’s willing to get talking if you’re friendly and approachable.
@uniofeastanglia Here are our students’ top tips for making friends at uni #ThisIsUEA #makingfriends #universitylife #freshers2023 ♬ original sound - University of East Anglia-UEA
8. Your loan will leave your account very quickly
Everything costs money, and when you’re at uni you’ll be shelling out for books, food, transport, clothes and nights out. That’s not even counting your rent. When that loan hits, you might be tempted to ‘make it rain’... but don’t. You will thank yourself in a month’s time.
Get yourself a decent student bank account - one where you can put your cash into different pots. That makes it a little easier to avoid burning through the money that's meant to be for the weekly shop.
Once people get settled, most find they need to top up their funds with some paid work - The Student Room has a section where students discuss part-time jobs.
9. It’s easy to get deals if you know how
When you’re a student, you're surrounded by discounts. Uni is an expensive time, make no mistake, but with some smart budgeting and some careful shopping you can make the most of the deals available.
Get started by getting hold of a 16-25 Railcard and Totum card for the discounts. Unexpected spending hacks can also save you a few quid...
10. You’ll feel overwhelmed sometimes - but it’s worth it!
Starting uni is a big deal, and even the most confident students will admit to feeling a little overwhelmed after the fun of Freshers' Week wears off.
But don’t think of this as a negative - it’s all part of growing as a person, being more independent and - deep breath - becoming an 'adult'. Take it all in your stride and embrace it.
Our partnership with the University of East Anglia
The Student Room is proud to work with UEA, a UK top-25 university (Complete University Guide 2024) and UK top-30 university (The Times/Sunday Times 2024), as the official partner of our student life section.
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