Starting university can be very daunting, as you have absolutely no reference point as to what it will be like. Luckily we've been there, done that, so hopefully our tips will help you to feel slightly less over-whelmed this September...
1. Get on Social Media
It sounds so simple but log onto whatever social media you have and find groups for people starting at your university. From personal experience I can say this was the best way to make me feel calmer about moving into halls, as Facebook allowed me to find one of my flatmates before I even moved in, and start talking to people on my course before I went to my first lecture. This made me feel a lot more relaxed as I felt I already had familiar people when moving into a totally new area.
2. Strategic Packing
I made the mistake of trying to bring my entire bedroom from home into my halls. Trust me, the chances are your new bedroom will be significantly smaller than what you are used to at home. Make a list of the things you know you need (what have you used in the last week, month and year?) and tick off items as you pack them. This way you make sure you only take the essentials and won’t forget anything important.
3. Don't forget the creature comforts
(Pug not included)
Packing the essentials is a priority, but make sure you take some personal items that will make your room feel less like a hotel (or motel!) room, and more like a home. I personally found that photos were a great way to make my room more colourful, however, there are other options such as blankets, wall hangings, cushions and fairy lights that will make your room a nicer place for you to relax. Your room is a blank canvas and you have the power to make into a home!
4. Learn to cook
Living off of takeaways and ready meals may sound appealing, but a few weeks in I guarantee you will be desperate for a home-cooked meal and some vegetables. Try and get whoever cooks at home to teach you how they make your favourite meals so you can make them for yourself when you get to university. Also, take cooking as an opportunity to get creative and try new recipes and foods you’ve never had before, as you can end up making some delicious dishes and can be a lot of fun to make with your flatmates.
5. Be prepared to meet new people
Moving into halls means that you will be living with complete strangers. This sounds terrifying, but honestly it gives you the opportunity to meet some people that you will be able to call a friend for life. Everyone in halls is just as nervous as each other so when you move in, prop your door open while you unpack so anyone else walking by can see you’re there and say hello. These are the people you will be living with for nearly a year so make sure you start on a good note and be friendly.
6. Be prepared to look after yourself
Going to university and moving away gives you a lot more independence. However, you need to remember to look after yourself. Registering to a GP is something many people forget to do, but is essential. Research where local hospitals are too in case of an emergency (hopefully you will never need to go, but it is always better to be prepared if something does happen). Looking after yourself even comes down to cleaning up after yourself in the kitchen. After a few months of having to look after yourself you will really come to appreciate everything people at home do for you.
7. Remember to call home occasionally
Sometimes in the excitement of moving into a new area, making new friends and starting a whole new chapter of your life, you forget to check in with those at home. Try and make it a habit, call home every couple of days and let them know how you’re doing, especially in the first couple of weeks, as chances are the people back home are missing you too. Remember, homesickness is also completely normal and everyone feels it at some point. Don't be afraid to contact home or even go home for the occasional weekend.
By following these steps your experience as a fresher will (hopefully) be enjoyable and slightly less daunting. The main thing you have to do is try to enjoy your time at university as it is something completely new and hopefully will be one of the be one of the most exciting experiences of your life!
About the author: Emilia Walker is a student at the University of Portsmouth studying English literature. In my spare time I enjoy reading and going to the beach.