Published on behalf of Kamila Zielinska.
Here are a few tips I wish I’d been told before starting uni. So that unlike me, you’re not left to figure them out by yourself!
Dobby is a fat elf.
Uni makes you fat, it’s definitely a scientific fact. Freedom doesn’t combine well with low funds. And if you’re sat there thinking to yourself ‘I’ll be different! I’ll go to the gym all the time and cook all the healthiest food’, then you’re in for a surprise, because that probably isn’t happening. Or at least not until second year, when you have to go a size up on your wardrobe (which you can’t afford), and you have no choice but to start a strict low-everything diet and move into Pure Gym. If you really want to avoid getting fat, you will need all the determination in the world, and you’ll need to hold onto it for your life. Otherwise, just accept this new look.
Become one of us…
You don’t have to join the dark side. Just a society. Joining a club is a huge part of uni, not just to meet people but to feel like you’re truly a part of something. It’s easy to lose your sense of place at uni, because it might be the first time you’ve been part of an institution this big! (I don’t believe there is any sixth form with this many students). Only good things come from joining societies – new friends, a sense of belonging, always new things to do, and a chance to be involved with the uni.
And remember that time is ticking.
The truth is it’s never too late to join a society, they will always take you in. But joining later on is never the same. It might be a waste of a membership fee when you’re already close to the end of the year, or you may find all the ‘getting to know people’ activities are long gone and you actually stand out as a newbie. So, even if you’re too busy with all the freshers’ stuff or a little too drunk to realise what day it is, try not to miss those society fairs and first socials!
Let yourself be desperate.
Accept it – you’re skint. You know it and everyone else knows it. And that’s fine – you should do EVERYTHING you can to save money. Can you get 10% off if you sit there for 5 minutes filling out a survey? Do it. Seriously. Even for that quid. When you’re a student, every pound matters. There is a huge difference between spending a fiver less on a night out – it might be able to feed you for another few days. Or maybe it’ll save your arse when you’re 5 pounds short of your phone bill.
Do not feel embarrassed for trying to save money, you have the absolute right to do that. Do not feel obligated to leave a tip when you haven’t even got a job. Do not feel bad for not donating your spare change to a charity, when you are probably in your overdraft.
You can do all those things when you’re in a full time job.
Just a small fraction of the cards I carry around for discounts!
Master the true art.
Food shopping is actually not that easy. It takes a while to master the art of a good food shop, and it will definitely involve a lot of experience and mistakes. What is the perfect food shop? It’s the kind of shopping where you spend as little as possible, and yet you don’t have to go back in there (well at least for a few weeks). And, as well as that, you are eating nice and healthy, inviting-mum-over-for-dinner worthy meals. Some of us never reach that level.
Ordering online is a life saver. Saves you carrying, forgetting something, or being distracted by the perfectly set up stock to distract your starving, hungover eyes. However, it’s not as beautiful as it seems. You have to order in advance, especially for cheap delivery, meaning that you might have to go that extra day on cereal. You are also expected to reach a minimum amount to order (Asda’s is £25, Tesco’s is £40!!). That’s completely fine, if you’re planning on stocking up for a few weeks upfront (which actually saves you money), but if you’re living in halls, you might really struggle for space.
Switch your best friend.
You know that friend you go to every time you need cheering up? To.. eat the pain away? Yeah, I’m talking about the fridge. The freezer is your new BFF now. Most of your fridge contents will be out of date before you manage to make it down for your first midnight snack. It’s funny, because when you start uni you’re so happy that you finally get to choose for yourself what to eat every day (an entire block of cheese for dinner? Why not), but you later come to realise that your meals are now dictated by a new force – ‘what’s going out of date first?’
Lose the script.
You’re starting a new life in a new place with completely new people. Yes, it’s the perfect chance to start with a clear slate and become someone you’ve wanted to be become. We’d all love to suddenly turn into someone else, but this really isn’t the time or the place. Be yourself, university isn’t role play.
Even if you’re studying drama or performance, do not become an actor in your own uni life. Not only will people see through it, but you really could make friends for life here.. and you don’t want to make friends based on someone you’re not. Even if being yourself didn’t benefit you in your previous school, don’t forget that university is a whole new world. It’s so much easier to become accepted, no matter who you are or where you’re from.
On the other hand, also don’t fear yourself changing from who you used to be (unless you’re just becoming a complete douche). Be open to all people and all possibilities, uni is the perfect opportunity to experiment and develop who you are, what you like and who you get on with.
*Feature image by Nathan Dumlao