Freshers’: A Survival Guide to University
‘Fresher’ (noun) – a student who has recently started studying at a college or university.
– (source: Cambridge Dictionary)
I ddarllen yr erthygl hon yn Gymraeg clicia yma.
So it’s all ‘fresh’ – first time living on your own – first taste of freedom – having to budget – having to feed, clothe and look after yourself!
Exciting? Nerve wracking? Terrifying? Will it be a never ending culture of “chug, chug, chug”, a careful balance of social life and study, or finding it a struggle to settle (and everything else in between)? Welcome to your freshers’ year!!!
Lots of people will be starting college and university this year and everyone’s experiences of their first days, weeks, and months is going to be different. Some might overdo it with the partying. All that freedom and a student loan burning a hole in their pocket. Lots of new places to visit, friends to make and fun, fun, fun. For others it can be a time when they feel crippling homesickness, stressing about money or the workload. They might struggle to make friends or hate their course.
So we thought we’d help a little with our…
Handy guide for new students
Learn to budget
This is one of the most important things you’re going to have to learn to do. You need to make sure that you can stretch that student loan. Check out this great guide on MSE advising on exactly that with over 60 tips including student bank accounts, discounts, energy bills and making extra cash. Shop around for the best student bank account and see which one can offer the best deal for you; they often have incentives to entice students like free cash or freebies.
Your student loan will land in your account in chunks and won’t be paid in weekly or monthly installments. You’re going to have to resist the temptation of blowing it all in one go. You need to learn to budget so that you don’t end up skint needing to fish food out of the bins around the back of Tesco (or begging to borrow money from the bank of mum and dad!).
Making new friends
Freshers’ Week is a great time to make new friends. Social events will be put on so that the people on your course can get to know each other in a less formal setting. You should also think about joining a group or society, there are loads of them usually. Attend the Fresher’s Fair where societies will be vying for your attention to tell you why you should join. This is a good way of meeting people with similar interests to you. If you need advice on how to make new friends then check out this Grab the Meic on our website where someone asked for our help. There’s also a great list of ideas on Save The Student like keeping your door open, offering help and cooking for people.
It can be hard to adjust to university life and missing family and friends back home can make the experience really miserable for some. While some people seem to settle straight away it’s not strange for others to struggle. Keeping busy is great to keep this at the back of your mind. Meet new friends, go to any social events, and join any groups or societies that are of interest to you.
Try not to give up because you’re finding it too hard, this might be a decision you regret. If you can stick it out for a few weeks, chances are these feelings of homesickness will fade. You can make weekend visits home more often at the beginning if you need to. You should also make the most of technology. When you’re missing home you can keep up with what your friends are doing on social media. You can also video call your family or friends if you want. But try not to spend too much time contacting home and spend more time getting to know your new surroundings.
If things don’t feel like they’re getting any better then try talking to your tutor or student support services. Times Higher Education has advice on How To Deal With Homesickness At University.
Remember why you’re there
Freshers’ week is a time of excitement and settling, but pretty soon you’re going to need to think about getting organised. You need to make sure you’re going to lectures and handing in your work on time. Failing your first year is an expensive mistake to make and will mean having to spend extra money to retake the year or having to drop out of university. Creating a timetable, or a study diary might sound boring in the middle of all the fun of freshers’ week, but it will prove useful to you as the seriousness of why you’re there kicks in. Check out TopUniversities Top Five Tips For Getting Better Organized At Uni. If you’re struggling with workload and getting organised then talk to your tutors or pastoral support, they may be able to help you come up with a plan.
Talk to Meic
Meic is someone that’s always on your side. If you’re really struggling and need to talk to someone or just have a question you’d like answered then you can contact Meic anonymously and free by phone, text or instant message from 8am to midnight, every day of the year. We’ll talk through your options and help find the best path for you going forward.