What actually happens during the first two weeks of uni? Find out here
Pesto pasta, £1 vodka lemonades, neon parties… There’s lots to look forward to when starting uni, but most students understandably have one or two niggling worries, especially about what to expect in those first few weeks.
To kickstart your excitement about the next chapter of your life, we’ve pulled together some real experiences from TSR and UEA students to reveal what the first two weeks at uni are really like.
OK, let’s be honest – moving is effort. It takes a lot of prepping, packing and lugging boxes up and down stairs, and there will always, always be that one box you never quite bother unpacking until you move out.
But to avoid that last-minute panic of throwing random things into a suitcase, the best thing to do is get yourself prepared nice and early. You’ll likely have a whole summer to fill before you fly the nest, which can be the perfect time to get stuck in with packing and organising everything. Remember, the entire contents of your home bedroom don't have to come with you – just try packing your necessities first, as you can always collect more stuff when you go home for Christmas.
Once you get to halls and manage to unpack a box or two, next it’s time to start introducing yourself to your flatmates. TSR member Kevin de Bruyne offers some advice:
“After you're unpacked, introduce yourself to the people living with you. Try leaving your door open to make it more inviting for people to come in and talk.”
Meeting your flatmates
If you’re nervous about who you’re going to be living with at uni, you can get a headstart meeting your flatmates by searching for Facebook groups assigned to your halls. Then, once you’re actually at uni, make sure you hang out in communal areas, so you can meet your flatmates in person.
It also helps to arrange something sociable for your first weekend at uni together, whether that’s a trip to the pub, a games night in the flat or even just cooking a communal meal,
so that you can all get to know each other better.
TSR member Bluebells60 says: “I met the rest of my flatmates when I moved in my stuff into my uni halls. Most of us stayed over that night so we got to know each other properly, and then we had someone to go with when we enrolled at uni the next morning."
Making friends and socialising
Everyone worries that if they don’t befriend their housemates instantly, they won’t have any friends for the rest of the year. But there are loads of opportunities to make new friends at uni outside your own flat. Everyone’s in the same boat and will be just as keen as you are to make friends, so don’t be shy about saying hello to everyone you meet at Freshers events. You’ll likely make other friends in your lectures and seminars, and societies are a good way to expand your social circles and meet people who are into the same things as you.
It’s very likely that you’ll never see lots of the people you meet in Freshers Week again, but equally some may become your new best friends, like member JustGeorgeJ says:
“My first week included going out every night, meeting new people... Some I'm still in contact with now but there’s also some I’m not.”
Your first week (or two) of uni is all about getting settled and meeting as many people as possible whilst you get your bearings.
The more events and activities you sign up for, the more opportunities you’ll have to make friends, so Freshers Week is the perfect time to get out there and let your hair down before your course starts. Member SHUGURU says:
“During Freshers Week at my uni, the Student Union puts on loads of events. There are things like Freshers Fair (where shops and companies from the city give out free stuff from stalls), Societies Fair (where you can sign up to societies and see what there is), Sports Fair (same but for sports), and lots of other events. I’d really recommend going to these because they can get your year off to a good start and give you lots of opportunities!”
Staying busy during your first few weeks at uni is also key to combatting homesickness, so keep your schedule full to help you settle in quicker. But don’t let yourself get pressured to go out too much – a night in watching Netflix with your flatmates still counts as socialising!
There are societies for everything, from sports and music to cultures and religions. Plus, if there’s not a society for your specific interest, you can always start one!
Freshers Fair is a must-see to learn about all the societies on offer at your uni, and to sign up for the free taster sessions that most societies will offer. Joining societies is also a great way to meet people and learn new skills, so getting involved in one or two is a great way to get more out of your uni experience.
Worried about rocking up to a society on your own? Member LyrasEye offers some advice:
“Don't worry about going to societies alone – there’s probably loads of people who don't know anyone, even if they’re second years. Going alone can also be a good way of making friends too.”
Budgeting your money
If you’re used to ‘borrowing’ from the bank of mum and dad when funds get low, effectively budgeting your student loan can feel a bit daunting at first. It’s easy to go crazy when that first instalment hits your account, but remember that it needs to last until Christmas, so it’s best to come up with a rough budget you can realistically stick to in your first couple of weeks.
You’ll also need to learn to do your own food shopping, so suss out where the nearest supermarkets are, and consider buying in
bulk with your flatmates to keep costs down. LyrasEye says:
“Food shopping on a budget does take practice, so don’t expect to do it perfectly if you've never had to think about it before! Shop around and see what works for you.”
Starting your studies
After the excitement of Freshers Week, you’ll be off to your very first lectures and seminars before you know it. This might remind you of your first day of school – except this time you’re surrounded by other adults and will be studying something you actually want to learn about, which is definitely a plus.
Sometimes courses will schedule a lecture or two during Freshers Week, but don’t be tempted to skip these early classes – usually they’ll include useful info about the course structure
and upcoming deadlines. Sarah1778 says:
“I had lots of talks during my first week, so I just made conversation with whoever I was sitting with to make friends. I also went along to subject-specific talks which helped me make friends with people doing the same course as me.”
In your first couple of weeks at uni, it can also help to familiarise yourself with the student support services that your uni offers.
These can include everything from mental health services to disability support; the health centre and the Student Union. These services are there to help, so don’t feel shy about approaching someone if you need assistance with something or even if you just need someone to talk to.
If you’re looking for more real experiences of the first couple of weeks at uni, be sure to check out the university life TSR forums.
Watch more videos about student life
Our vloggers are sharing their experiences of student life direct from the campus. In this video playlist, we've collected their vlogs about first year accommodation, to help you get an idea of what it's like when you first start.
This competition closes for entries at 23:59 on 31 May 2021.
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