Starting out at university can be daunting, but it is also the opportunity to have the most fun you have ever had. New friends and experiences await, and it is one of those times in your life that you will never forget. It works both ways, and nobody wants their first week, or fresher’s week as it is often known, to be memorable for the wrong reasons. That’s why we have put together our top 10 tips for making the most of your first week at university.
1. Try as Much as You Can
The chances are that when you have just reached university, your life experiences will be limited. The first week for new students is designed around, giving them the opportunity to try new things, and it is the perfect opportunity to leave your comfort zone. This is the time when clubs, societies and your student union are seeking to attract new members, and if something takes your fancy, it is the perfect time to give it a go. At the very worst, you can always leave in the future, but there may not be another intake.
2. Take Advantage of Student Discounts
Students are stereotypically thought of as not having all that much money. That may come with negative connotations, but it can also work in your favour as many places are happy to offer a student discount. You will usually need to prove your status as a student – most countries have a version of student cards for this purpose – and just showing the card will be enough to ease the stress on your budget in numerous places in and around the campus.
3. Do Make a Budget
A fair few students arrive at university never having managed significant amounts of money before. Between student loans, overdrafts and credit cards, it can be tempting for the inexperienced to go crazy on borrowed cash. There is nothing wrong with going into debt at university, but it is important to keep it manageable and to have a plan to get back out of debt as soon as possible. A budget also takes account of the fact that credit lines do not last forever, and it is worth living within your means while having as much fun as possible.
4. Meet New People Close to Home
Most first-year students choose to live in halls of residence and other university-operated accommodation. The people responsible for assigning rooms and roommates take little account of the personalities involved, and the chances are that the people you end up living with might not be your first choices as friends. Nevertheless, they have the same overall goal as you do, and the potential for unlikely friendships is very high at home.
5. Cooking is a Great Way to Build Friendships
If you can already cook when you arrive at university, then you are a step ahead of most. If not, it is a great time to learn and a fantastic communal activity. In self-catered accommodation, you can make new friends, take on board different cooking influences and save money – and everyone loves the chef!
6. Wash your Hands Regularly
Colds and cases of flu are so common in the first week of university that it has become known as ‘fresher’s flu’. There are a lot of people, and some of them are bound to be ill statistically. The last thing you need when tackling potentially the most important week of your life so far is to feel under the weather, so take the necessary steps to avoid bugs while out socialising.
7. You Don’t Have to Commit to a Group Right Away
When arriving for the first time, there is immediate pressure to make friends and fit in. Over time, you will find yourself forming part of a friendship group, but there is no need to decide right away. Among the biggest joint decisions for these groups is finding accommodation for the second year, but there is no need to make this decision in your very first week. It can be better in the long term to feel your way around and get to know people first.
8. Get in Early on the Job Opportunities
There are plenty of new students, but only so many part-time jobs to go around. The communities around universities tend to adapt to the student population, and so there may well be more part-time jobs around than at home, but they are still finite. Enough of the competition decides that they will get the first week out of the way before looking for a job that it can actually be the best time to look.
9. Remember the Education
There will not be much by way of lectures and lessons in the first week, but it is important to remember that you are there to learn. The activities you choose and the friends you make in the first week may well stay with you throughout the year, but the educational side should take priority.
10. Get to Those Assignments
Assignments are the lifeblood of university courses, and while there may not be many organised study sessions, there will almost always be something to do. Even if you do not start writing immediately, it is good to have an idea of what needs to be done and when, as you can then sort out living and working arrangements that ensure that the focus is not entirely diverted from getting your core work done.