September marks the start of Academic Term and for many the ‘leaving for University’ countdown begins. It is an anticipating yet exhilarating time for most as they await the freedom to be able to choose to do what they want whenever they want. However, the excitement can be quickly dampened with anxiety and fear as many will be living independently away from family and friends for the very first time.
Leave Your Past Behind & Live Your Future
Packing for University can be a long winded and difficult task if not effectively planned in advance. Attempting to condense 18 years of belongings into a couple of suitcases and then away into a small room the size of a cardboard box is a challenge - often filled with distractions as you prefer to opt for a trip down memory lane. Jotting down a well thought out list prior to packing is important to ensure only the essentials are included.
TIP - items such as kitchen utensils can be bought in your future University town, as shared kitchens all too often end up with five kettles and no toaster, or dozens of knives and forks but no plates! I would highly recommend taking decorative pieces such as personal photo frames, cushions and bed throws which create a homely atmosphere and are much more valuable than hefty amount of clothes which will undoubtedly be purchased during a much needed friendship bonding retail therapy shopping trip.
Feelings Change, Memories Don’t
Moving away to University and starting a new life in a different environment can be exciting but also extremely overwhelming. Having to leave behind close friends and built relationships to become a single anonymous individual in a crowd of hundreds can have a high impact on emotions.
TIP- Firstly, always remember that you are not alone in feeling this way. Feel free to take frequent trips home at weekends or around your timetable -even invite family/friends to your new gaff. If you feel that the regular contact is only prolonging your homesickness, try to keep yourself busy by getting out of the house as much as possible and surrounding yourself with others - a Student Unions Bar always has its door wide open and Clubs/Societies are eager to recruit new members.
After a jam packed Fresher’s week of deprived sleep, endless amounts of alcohol and takeaway meals, you may have only had time for a glimpse of where you will be living over the next three years. Beyond the campus and SU Bar sits shops, restaurants, bars and local history waiting to be explored. Don’t limit yourself to the confines of a University Campus - use local transport to discover what the area really has to offer.
True Friends are Hard to Find,
Harder to Have & Impossible to Forget
Sharing accommodation with randomly picked individuals who have not chosen to live together can bring lots of tension- housemate’s end up feeling obligated to make friends with each other even if they have completely different interests. House sharing tends to bring out people's irritating little habits such as the inability to wash up or operate a vacuum cleaner, hogging the bathroom or fighting over whose turn it is to buy the toilet paper. Your cosy house of four suddenly becomes a cramped house of five or six, as various lovers start moving in unexpectedly. The smallest niggles in the world can become the most important and can cause major tension.
TIP: If rifts occur, use your common sense - let the situation calm down and when ready, speak to the person, explain your views and listen to theirs. If talking doesn’t solve the situation and living in the same house becomes unbearable, seek help with University advisors who may offer an accommodation referral. Always remember - never rush into signing a contract for your house for the following year. You may think that they are your best friends in the beginning, but friendships quickly change. Broaden your friendship groups outside of your living space with other course or social activity groups with your own similar interests.
Don’t Limit Your Challenges, Challenge Your Limits
University is full of new experiences, temptations, challenges and activities. During fresher’s week, most Universities will hold a society fair where you will be able to discover discuss and partake in a wide range of clubs. This is a great opportunity to challenge and push yourself to try something new, completely out of your comfort zone, whilst expanding your friendship groups with likeminded people. These societies can be attended alongside your chosen degree and are a great aspect to talk about in your CV - societies also offer the opportunity to hold leading roles/positions such as Presidents, Club and Team Captains which give high amounts of authority and responsibility. Sporting societies bring social opportunities to tour, travel and represent the University across the country whilst ensuring friendship carries on after the game and into the pub.
TIP: Societies are a huge part of the University experience and a great way to make new friends. However, always be aware of the dangers of a heavy alcohol fuelled night in a very unfamiliar place.
The benefits of moving away to University are endless. What you will learn inside and outside the lecture halls will stay with you well beyond graduation day. Adapting to a new independent life is one of the most rewarding challenges you will ever face - whatever subject you decide to study.
I can assure you that you will always look back on your university years and describe them as the best days of your life.