So, I’m about to finish my first year of university- scary. I think that whenever something comes to an end you consciously start to get reflective about what you’ve experienced, any mistakes you’ve made, maybe something you could have done better? So, I thought that it might be useful to document some of my experiences as a first year student, with the hope that it might be beneficial to anyone else.
Pre-arrival to university:
– Buying stuff was tricky. Because I worked at Wilko I thought I had it all sorted, I spent a stupid amount of money on kitchen items and towels. But you’ll find, when you get to uni, you end up forgetting a lot of stuff. You will have to do a big shop so don’t stress it, you won’t forget anything really important and anything you do, you will be able to get nearby. Luckily for me, I live opposite a big Asda Home so I was able to get anything, from bathmats to Ice cream – both are essential.
– When I knew I was coming to Bournemouth I joined several Facebook groups/pages as they were a good source of information and an easy way to meet people. I joined a Facebook page for my halls and posted what flat I would be living in come September, and from that I found two of my flat mates and we created a group chat. When we did meet face-to-face, we already knew a little about each other and introductions were not that awkward. So lookout for any groups that might be useful to you, especially a group for your course!
– Back to my earlier point of joining a group, I joined a Bournemouth Freshers page so that I could get all the information about the different events and how much it would cost, etc… Many freshers will offer group bundles or offers on multiple events (for example, pay £8 for two different events instead of paying £5 on the door for each), Bournemouth were selling different types of wristbands. I bought a gold wristband for £70 and it actually ended up saving me a lot of money. The Gold wristband got you into every single event, Que jump and your first drink for free and think about it, if you’re going out all the time for the first three weeks, its worth getting.
– Freshers is also the point when you thank you parents for packing you a first aid kit and a few packets of paracetamol, because you will need it. You will get freshers flu, it’s inevitable and it’s horrible so stock up on all of your flu necessities, you will need them at some point.
– Most universities will have a form of freshers fair, where you can sign up to different societies. Definitely go as Freshers Fair is a great way to meet new people and try new things; from learning Japanese to Cheerleading.
– Take a bag, you will need one for all of the freebies you’re going to get. A lot of big brands have stools at Freshers Fair (Subway, Amazon Prime) with exclusive student offers, be on the look out!
-Freshers Fair is also a great way of meeting people with similar interests to you!
– I love my halls, but moving in can be quite daunting, especially after your family have left and you’re sorting out your room, but this is where your flatmates come in.
– We had a flat dinner the night everyone moved in, we made burgers&chips and sat down and got to know each other. Even though most of us had been talking before hand, it was a great way to get to know the people you will be living with for the next year. From that, we all established that we would be, what I like to call, a ‘sharing’ flat. Meaning that we had no problem with any of us going into each others cupboards and using various things, sharing milk/butter/eggs and whatever else. Although the one rule we did make; is that if you went to use something and you noticed it was low, let the other person know so that they don’t go to use it and notice that it’s empty.
– I think that it’s important to get along with your flatmates and that if there are any issues, they are resolved quickly. Nobody likes living in an awkward atmosphere!
– I know that I have just mentioned moving into halls, so it might seen quite strange to now consider moving out, but looking for somewhere to live next year is a very tricky process.
– People from the year above told me not to start looking until January because estate agents know that people are wary/keen and try to fob off certain properties early. And while this is good advice, it is not necessarily true. I know many people who had their houses sorted before Christmas and were very happy. However, I would suggest that you think about two things:
1) Who you think you might move in with.
2) Arranging a viewing for a property anyway.
This way, you get to know the area a little bit better and you discover what it is you’re not looking for. I went to look at a property in November and I don’t regret it. It was not the house that we ended up with but It gave me a pretty good idea of what to ask and certain things to look out for.
– This could be a sub-section of moving out, but I think that it’s too important, so I decided it should have its own point.
– Part of the process of moving out next year is the scary reality of paying for all of your bills each month, instead of three times a year (when in halls).
– A guarantor is a third party, usually a parent of close relative, who agrees that they will pay your rent if you are unable to. When you sign your contact, this will be the legal responsibility of guarantor and taken by the landlord.
– Back to my earlier point of looking at houses too early, you could wait until after Christmas, but I believe that you should use your the Christmas holiday to think about who you may consider to be your guarantor and have that conversation with that individual.
– If you’re worried that securing a guarantor will be difficult, speak to somebody from your student union or even a friend. Bournemouth University Student Union (SUBU) are in talks with the university so that any student from a low-income family or international student may use the university as a guarantor.
– For a lot of students, the Christmas holidays may be their first opportunity to return home, so enjoy it!
– Before you leave halls, make sure you’ve spoken to you flatmates (wished them a Merry Christmas) and find out who will be the last to leave as they can make sure the flat is left in an appropriate condition (This was important because in my halls we would be charged for any rubbish left). This is also your responsibility, empty your cupboards and the fridge of any imperishable’s, empty your bins and just make sure you’ve left it in a decent state. You will appreciate coming back to somewhere that isn’t a complete mess – trust me.
– Finally, try and do some work over the Christmas break. By all means, take some time off, see friends, see family but don’t do nothing over three weeks, like I did. Otherwise you will come back after a relaxing Christmas, already have the blues from missing home and suddenly realise you have two assignments due on the same day and you haven’t started either of them, like I did.
– Again, money could have been a sub-section for any of these categories, but organising your financials as a student is very difficult.
– There are lot of websites and YouTube videos on how to save, student meals and different student offers, so do some research!
– You might be like me and come to uni with some savings, make them last.
– You might be eligible for any bursaries that your university offers. The university should be notified when you file your student finance application, but check their website because there might be separate bursaries that you may have to apply for individually.
– Again, once you have accepted your place via UCAS your bank should be updated and automatically switch to a student account. If it doesn’t, make an appointment and speak to a member of staff at your bank about getting a student account, as your overdraft might be your saving grace. It is also worth making an appointment if your account did switch over automatically as it is useful to understand the ins and outs of your account (overdraft limit, will you get charged etc)
The rest is pretty simple, get up, wash and feed yourself, go to your lectures/ seminars, do your work and have a great time. But it’s all about balance. If you know you can go out six nights a week but can spend your whole Sunday writing a decent essay (whilst severely hungover) then go head. But most of us can’t do that. And while workload and lecture hours will vary between each courses, the workload is manageable, you have to prioritise.
I hope this was helpful, I’ll probably do another one when I’ve actually finished my course.