Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Top Ten: Things to know before going to University

Five years ago I was on my way to Sussex University. Sitting in my Dad's car, next to an old toaster that wasn't needed and a kettle that would burn me more than it boiled water, I felt excited. Anxious. Completely unprepared. It seemed crazy. I'd relished in writing endless lists, delighted in trips around IKEA. Upon arrival, fear gripped me. What should I do now? Where do I go? What do I do? I wanted to vomit. Thankfully, I didn't. What a first impression that would have been...

As students across the UK enter the world of academia; all eager to jump start on destroying their livers, I thought I'd make this Top Ten an educational one. Here I impart with four years worth of experience. Wisdom. And it's free. Take it, please:

1) It's okay to introduce yourself to every person you see, including the maintenance guy. He may come in handy when the light bulb blows at 3am and everyone has to pee in the dark.

2) Make every single moment of Freshers' Week count. No one told me this. Or they did but in a really flippant way as if they had asked me to buy them a pint. 'You want anything at the bar?' 'Yeah, I'll have a Bud, oh and by the way, make freshers' week count.' Doesn't really get into the thought processes, does it? Maybe if they had written it down in capital letters; they seem to do the trick. MAKE FRESHERS' WEEK COUNT. GO TO EVERY BAR CRAWL. CHAT UP THAT CUTE GUY OR GIRL. DANCE ON THAT TABLE. You'll know what I mean in four years' time. Comprende?

3) Don't buy every book on your reading list (or read them). Not only will you still have those books (unopened, in pristine condition) five years later, your wallet won't thank you for it. Then you'll be all, 'Sorry guys, I can't go out tonight, I bought a book instead of dancing and laughing and generally having a good old time.' Sitting in halls, penniless and alone, your new books will start to mock you and that's never fun.

4) SAVE SOME MONEY. The capital letters return. By the third week of uni, after you've paid rent, bought way to much food for one person, and wasted enough money getting wasted, you'll be scraping inside the smelly communal sofa for extra coinage. So be prepared. It will save you sticking your hands down that sofa. Worth the effort alone.

5) Learn how to cook. Even just the basics. A diet consisting mainly of toast, kebabs, chips, and alcohol will age you thirty years. And possibly give you an eating disorder.

6) Go to the Freshers' Fair. You may think it looks like a load of drab tables lined up in the drizzly rain with naff home-made posters pinned to trees. You'd be right. But there are freebies. Baked beans. Light bulbs. Spoons. What more could you possibly want?

7) Sign up for the Doctor asap. Yes, there is such a thing as Freshers' Flu. No, it is not a rumour and/or a conspiracy theory. I wish.

8) It's okay to not go out drinking every night. It doesn't make you un-cool or antisocial. It makes you normal. This is good.

9) Attend lectures. You never know, you may actually learn something. Learn, she said? Of course! Remember that grey matter inside your head? The brain. It's quite handy.

10) Whatever you do, DO NOT break your foot a week before starting University. Crutches and drunken people do not mix. Trust me...

So reader, anything you'd like to add?


  1. 1) If you don't have a Facebook page- get one. Every college student on Earth has a Facebook page.

    2) If you live in a dorm, an open door policy can be fun. Whenever you're just sitting in your room, prop your door open. It's fun to see who wanders over to hang out.

    3) Buy your textbooks in the Amazon.com marketplace. They're a million dollars cheaper. You can also resell them for more than the school bookstore would give you.

  2. ahaha, i love it! i never go to live in residential colleges at uni, i think i really missed out. but still, a lot of the tips apply!

  3. I agree with everything except #8. Well, I agree with it to a point. Just make sure you're not the lame kid who never goes out. The one that sits in their room and does homework. I was that kid, at one of the most well known US Universities, and it sucked lol. Funny list, brings back lots of memories!


  4. Very nice list. I am going to college but I'm not living there so I guess all the rules don't apply. But #3. Hell yes!

  5. VABookworm: Some good points there. Though myself and my housemates joined facebook during our final year and we all spent more time on facebook than doing our work! Why is it the more work you have to do, the less you want to do it?!

    Lady Midnight: I never lived in halls per se. It was more residential. It was on campus but was a village type community; hundreds of 12 bedroomed houses. It was brilliant. You definately get more out of living on campus but i wouldn't say you missed out. Just a different experience.

    Konnor: I stick by my number 8! I'm all for going out and being social but if you've gone out every night for 3-4 weeks, you start to get a bit bored of it (and tired and poor). During my first term, i bonded more with my housemates when we spent the night in watching movies. We could talk more. We were still social. I guess that's what i meant!

    Andrew: Thanks. And yes, number 3 is imperative! :)

  6. hmnm...i didn't go out, didn't drink, and didn't social. THAT'S what i did wrong!

  7. Dear Frosh Reader,

    This list covers a lot of vital points and is really good - the cooking is a life skill, so you can't really get out of that, as much as you wish you could!

    Do remember, though, that each of us is unique and has a different life situation, culture, personality and way of doing things so there will be a lot of suggestions, and it's OK not to do it all. Think with your head (and heart). Be gentle with yourself.

    I read a few "before you go to university" lists and felt like such a loser because I never did any of the stuff, I was too ill and stressed and depressed and had a completely different way of looking at things. I felt I was less of a person because of that.

    But my experience is as valid because I somewhat accepted who I was at that time in my life (four years too late, oh well.)

    Some of us are always going to be more introverted, spiritual, dreamy or health conscious than others :) And that's OK. And sometimes we won't realise it and wonder why are we so weird!

    Balance is the key.

    TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH - especially your emotional health. Universities have counsellors, please do make a point to go and see one at some point just so you can talk to someone.

    Drink herbal tea and avoid the caffeine and late-nighters as much as possible!!!! You will eventually have to, but avoid it as much as you can. TRUST ME!

    EAT WELL. Fish, fruit and veg and wholegrain pasta is good. Take a multi vitamin. If you already exercise or play sports, that's great - make time to keep doing that. If you don't, WALK AS MUCH AS YOU CAN BEAR TO. And take up yoga for the stress - it HELPS. Meditate, breathe deeply and allow yourself to relax.

    And yes, only buy the compulsory books, buy them second hand from the internet or uni bookshop or borrow from the uni library if you can - and do NOT get emotionally attached to them and make sure you sell them the next year.

    They say you'll figure out what you want to do, but after three or four years of study, you still may not. A lot of us haven't, so you're not alone. But the feeling is weird. Go to the careers office ASAP. You need any help you can get.

    Open your mind to learning in and out of the classroom. Let new ideas (there will be many) sink in for a while before you decide whether or not to accept them.

    My two cents... hope it helps someone.

  8. Anon...some brilliant points you've added to the list. You are right to say that we are all different and we must adapt in our own ways. My own list above is just silly and if i had the time and space, i would add much more to it!


  10. I never knew about #8 guess that's why my friends say am not sociable. Thanks very much, i have changed ��


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