Heading off to University can be a really exciting time. Apart from the obvious benefit of finally getting to live alone or even better with friends, University is a new chapter of your life where you get the chance to be more independent and find who you are. However, that’s most likely to happen in the long run, in the meantime you’re probably just excited about the social opportunities this new lifestyle will bring about. Don’t forget though that the University experience can be especially overwhelming at the beginning and that it’s very easy to find yourself completely broke and hungover at the end of your first week. To help you start your studies smoothly and avoid eating two-minute meals for your entire student life here are a few things you can do to prepare before the time to head to University rolls around.
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1. Sort Out Your Finances
As you transition from school to university, you will suddenly realise how damn expensive life can be. If you’ve never had a part time job, we regret to inform you that you are about to realise that getting by is actually pretty hard. Be warned though; realizing that you are expected to buy your textbooks with your own money can be a bit of a shock, so make sure you prepare emotionally for that moment. Who on earth would rather spend their money on fuel and textbooks, when there are so many opportunities to party and eat junk food? The best way to not get overwhelmed is to be prepared. Sit down and draw up a rough budget that includes the costs you’re going to incur when you first start University and those that you’ll get every week. Yes, if you want to include a weekly alcohol allowance it’s fine. Just make sure you don’t spend your entire student loan on partying during your first month at uni, consider all your income and expenses and budget them accordingly.
2. Find Somewhere to Live
Most people don’t hesitate to seize the opportunity of moving away from home, whether it’s because the campus is too far from home, or because they need a break from their parents, most people would definitely opt to move away. There are a few options when it comes to finding somewhere new to call home. Most universities have on-campus accommodation. These usually have a variety of options including sharing with others or getting a place to yourself. Sometimes they require that you live a certain distance from the campus to be eligible so make sure you go through your university’s policies beforehand. Living on campus is great, however make sure you prepare yourself for that. Living on campus means that you’ll make lots of new friends, lots and lots of new friends in fact. It also means that you will never stop getting invitations to parties etc. Although this is great, and you’ll find that you’ll blend in easily, don’t forget to take this into consideration when you search for a new alarm app to download. You wouldn’t want to miss your morning classes now, would you? Living off-campus can also be great. There are usually plenty of share houses in the area near the University and these are also a great way to meet new people, so if your hiding a little Gatsby inside you, choose a shared house and play host whenever you feel like it. If all these sound too exciting for you, you could always find single off-campus accommodation, after all you are not the type that cleans up others’ mess and dealing with their drunken friends isn’t something you can handle. Wherever you choose to live, make sure you prepare for it, have your parents teach you a couple of new recipes, make posters for your room to remind you that you have to get to class and in general find ways to motivate yourself to get to your classes as there will be many distractions.
3. Learn to Cook
Even though you might have your finances sorted becoming a typical ‘poor university student’ doesn’t take much, especially if you’re eating out all the time. Sure in the first few weeks you might spend time eating and drinking out to socialize and make friends, but eventually you need to start cutting back. It’s common for University students to talk about how they lived on two-minute noodles and bread. However if you’re not eating well, this will also start to affect your studies. Without proper nutrition your body won’t be able to function properly and you’ll always feel tired, probably this will result in you passing out in a lecture theatre and before you know it, the video of you passing out will have become viral. You’ll probably also have trouble concentrating and remembering things, but if that’s not enough reason, then know that eating well, means that you’ll be able to drink more. So, you need to learn how to cook. You don’t have to be some sort of master chef just learning a few basic things will do. Ask your parents to teach you how to cook a few of your favourite meals. There are also an endless amount of recipes and videos online that can teach you a thing or two.
4. Get Everything you Need
When you’re leaving the nest for the first time it can be tempting to want to take absolutely everything you own. We tend to want to take lots of our own possessions so our new place feels like home. Unfortunately you can’t bring every single stuffed toy and childhood memory on your move. What you need to bring with you will also depend on the type of accommodation you’re going to live in. If you’re going to be moving into shared accommodation you’ll probably need a lot less than if you’re moving into some sort of single self-catering arrangement. Whether the shared place is on, or off campus it’s likely that most of the common areas will already be full of stuff. So TVs, appliances, linen and kitchenware may not be necessary. In some instances you may not even need a bed. So just make sure you only take whatever can fit in your car. If you’re moving into somewhere where you’ll live by yourself you’ll probably need more of these things. However some places can come with appliances so double-check before you go blowing your dollars on them. If you are in need of bigger appliances you may not be cashed up enough to buy brand new items. Jumping on websites where locals sell their unwanted goods is one way to go. You can also put advertisements up around your University with information on what you’re after. Also, make sure you post on Facebook as well, since one of your friends is bound to have what you are looking for. Remember that the golden rule is to only have the essentials, so brace yourself to the idea of living modestly.
5. Forget About High School
Whether you loved it or hated it high school is now over. You’re about to move on to a new chapter of your life. So no matter how unpopular or popular you were back in the day, it really no longer matters. At University you can reinvent yourself, find new interests and make a whole new set of friends. Were you the nerdy kid at school who was always picked on? Now is your chance to become one of the cool kids. There is no point dwelling on the past when you have a whole bright and brand new future in front of you. Some might be scared that University will be exactly the same as high school, but rest assured that it really is a completely different environment with a lot more parties and positive attitudes. So it’s a good idea to use the transitioning period between high-school and University to emotionally preparing yourself for this change.
Once all this stuff is sorted go out and have fun. You should obviously make sure your studies don’t get pushed aside to the point that your grades start to take a turn for the worst. But don’t spend all your time cooped up in the library or your bedroom with your head in a book neither. Let’s be honest you haven’t had a proper University experience until you’ve had to sit through a morning lecture with a massive hangover.