Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Surviving as a Fresher;

The summer has gone way too fast, hasn't it? Seems like a new school year has crept right up on us. Recently, I wrote a guest post for Gemma of Flutter and Sparkle about my tips for heading off to uni, and it went up today! I think it's something I should share here too, so here it goes...

Since I graduated last year, this September marks the second year i've been free of education. I use the term free loosely, as someone who still loves learning and taking in new things... A new school year rather feels like getting to Platform 9 & 3/4 to see the Hogwarts Express tooting merrily off into the distance.* While I love it and all that, my father's car ain't no flying machine... So i'm stuck in the muggle world for another year, with no idea what to do with myself.
(*Metaphorically of course. I know you can't get on the platform after the train leaves.)

This is one of the buildings of my university. Has a kind of Hogwarts vibe, doesn't it?

If you're off to uni this September, then by now i've no doubt you're kitted out with almost everything the kitchen and stationary departments have to offer, and have been given loads of great advice. I know before I went away for the first time, the car was loaded with that much stuff we couldn't see out of the windows and everyone was telling me i'd have a great time.

So with a fresh crop heading off for the first time, I wanted to make a post to share some of my top tips from my experience as a fresher, including some things I wish i'd been told before I set off. I'd like to start with what I think is my most important, and lesser given tip;

Make the room your own...

I took a few things with me, that really made the room more homely. A few of my flatmates even commented that my room didn't feel like a cold and lonely uni room and how they wished they had more things to make their room more homely. Shop around for some good deals and brightening up your home from home, won't break the bank.

Door Stop
A doorstop is a must! When I moved into halls for my first year my mum had the brainwave to pick a doorstop up, and I hadn't even considered it. By propping your door open over the first few days, it makes it very likely that your new flatmates will pop their heads in to say hello.

Alarm Clock
Don't rely on your phone, especially if it sleeps close by you. I definitely recommend investing in an alarm clock. More than one may even help. Keep one the other side of your room maybe? If you are anything like me, you will never go out for 'just the one' and 'definitely be up for morning lectures'... Nor will you ever learn.

Scented Candle
I'm pretty sure a universal rule for halls will be that you can't light candles, but jar candles like Yankee give off a nice scent even when they aren't lit. So having an open jar candle in the room is the next best thing.

I had a colourful blanket, and zebra print duvet. Against the plain walls, it made my room feel much more personal. The blanket also loaded up the warmth, especially as I lived on the seafront in an old building that got more than just a little bit chilly in the winter.

Pins & Pictures
Most rooms come with a big cork board. I took pictures from home with me. It helped to have something personal in my room with me when times got hard. It will get hard. Usually around exam time, essay deadlines, hangovers from hell and maybe the odd heartbreaks.

I loved getting post when I was away, but it's not always practical. Suss out how post works in your building. In some halls, the post man will come to the flat door, or there may be a post room. For me, the postie brought things to the flat, and if no-one was in I lived pretty close to the post office so it was easy enough to go pick anything up later on. Care parcels from mum were always the best thing to come back to.

When I hadn't blown my budget, I also had Graze boxes delivered. Mine arrived on days when I had early lectures, so it was always nice to get home and have a nice little selection of snacks waiting for me on the parcel shelf. If you fancy trying out Graze, follow my link, and there will be a code waiting for you that will get you your first box for free. If you like it your 5th and 10th will also be free. Not only that! But £1 will be donated to the Graze School of Farming. That's quite a nice deal, hey?

Something I wish I did know about when I was at uni, is Birchbox. I love getting my monthly discovery boxes, and I think a surprise box of goodies arriving every month during term time, would have been a nice distraction from work.

Top Tips;
  • Take old clothes and plain white T's. Foam parties, paint parties, white t-shirt nights? Why yes, these are all absolutely great fun. Also, yes. They will ruin your clothes and shoes. Take a stash of old clothes and white t-shirts. You won't have to worry about destroying your beautiful new tops or dresses, nor will you have to plan weeks in advance to find a shop that still has a white t-shirt in your size, in stock! 
  • Fancy Dress; Fancy dress and theme nights make up a pretty decent sized portion of your nights out. So kit of basic fancy dress accessories means you always have a back up plan, and don't have to splash the cash on costumes. 
  • Learn to Budget. I never did, and I really wish I had. 
  • Leave a bottle of water by your bed before you go out. It'll encourage you to rehydrate when you get in and when you wake up. Hangover? What hangover? 
  • Go to Headphone Discos. At least one. In my opinion they're pretty fun, and it'll tick off another experience on your 'Things I did at uni' list.  
  • Poundland is your greatest ally.  You can pick up all your basics, and every once in a while, you'll find something that is an absolute bargain. My brother still doesn't know that I got the £20 book he wanted for a quid. Pssst... Let's keep it that way ;)
  • Don't date your flatmates. Or anyone in your building if you can help it. I wasn't guilty of this myself, but I know people who did. Most counts it didn't end well. 
  • Find second year accommodation as soon as possible. 
  • Try not to go too crazy. The freedom goes to a lot of heads. Be safe! :)
  • Don't give up. You can do this. 
Are you off to uni this year? Or considering it for next? Well I hope some of my tips come in handy.

Catch up with me;

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