Saturday, 19 September 2015

9 important things you learn during your first term at uni

It's this time of year when I begin to feel a bit granny-like and also pretty jealous, as a fresh flock of hopeful young humans descend upon Cambridge. There are plenty of things I wish I'd known when I first went off to university as a round-faced 18 year old without a care in the world, so here are 9 vital life lessons for nailing your first term as a student.

1. Fresher's event attendance is crucial. Even if you're the shy and retiring type, try and get chatting to people and head out with your flatmates more than once during Freshers week. Remember, you're all in the same boat and having the events of the night before to joke about the next day will really break the ice (aka awkwardness) that comes with having to live with a bunch of people you've never even met before.

2. You'll probably make some risqué changes to your clothes/hair/appearance. Within my first year at uni I had changed half my clothes, got a fringe, dyed my hair purple, then black, then purple again, stretched my ears and added a further 2 tattoos to my repertoire. I'm not advocating stretching your ears because ouch/job prospect limitations, but making style choices that reflect your personality is an important stage in the identity crisis that comes from being at uni - if you're not naturally confident it can be hard to stand out so making a statement with your look can actually be helpful in cementing yourself as an individual and connecting with others. Plus your mum isn't there to tell you you look ridiculous. Werk it.

3. The crew with the best customised bar crawl shirts is where you need to be. You've paid your £10 and made sure all your mates are in the same colour group as you, so now's the time to grab the scissors and sharpies and get to work. 0 points for penis drawings, 100 for originality. 

4. You don't need to drop major £££ on fancy dress. Loans and grants don't stretch as far as you might think, so instead of ordering that sexy Alice in Wonderland outfit from an overpriced party shop, head to Primark and Poundland for all your eighties, superhero and Halloween needs.

5. Just because the drinks are £1 doesn't mean you need 20 of them. Rein it in girlie. I will never forget the morning I woke up after a Fresher's £1 night in a dried up puddle of my own sick. Not only did it scare the absolute shit out of me because it's hella dangerous, but I had eaten curry the night before so sweeping up those stinky grains of rice with the mother of hangovers will haunt me forever. Have a good time but try to be aware of your limits and make sure you kip in a friend's room if you feel really ill. 

6. There are activities you can get involved in that don't involve getting absolutely steaming. Leading on from the above horror story, remember if you're not big on drinking and clubbing there are so many other activities on offer. Go to the societies fair and sign up for something interesting or unusual. You'll make friends and learn cool new things. At my uni they had roller-blading society, a fencing club, a student newspaper and radio station, and I even ended up signed up for a zombie run. Spoiler: I got bit. 

7. You will make weird spur-of-the-moment dietary choices because your mum isn't doing the food shopping. Why get one dessert when you can have two? The fresher's chub is real, as is the slow, hungover crawl to KFC at 1pm on a Wednesday to get your breakfast.

8. But you'll also go through phases of attempting cheap, healthy cooking from scratch, mostly because the oven will be your only heat source in the winter months. Basic and value brands are your friends, as are places like Lidl, and any local fruit and veg markets. If you're a n00b in the kitchen there are a tonne of easy to follow student recipes on BBC Food and Food Network.

9. There is actually a lot of hard work involved. It may not be true for every course at every uni and students get a lot of stick for having too much fun, but my degree was essay/reading list overload in that first term. It can be overwhelming and tricky to balance work with getting filthy drunk and watching One Tree Hill marathons - I remember having a little cry that first Christmas because I had SO much to get done over the holidays. but if you get into a habit of getting the work done first it will totally pay off. Don't forget to have fun though!

What are your top tips for freshers survival?


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