Written by Jessica Lear, MA student
Your first few days at university can feel very exciting but also a bit daunting, but here are some top tips to help you get the most out of this time and feel settled into university life.
Have your bedroom door open
It can be natural to want to hide away in your room, but before you arrive at university it’s worth investing in a door stop as it is a great way of getting to know the people you are living with. Having your door open when you’re inside your new room means that you are approachable to your housemates and it is easy for them to talk to you as they walk past or to come in for a chat. It is an easy way to break the ice with the people you are living with, and it is the small comments or bits of conversation as people walk past that can help you feel more comfortable in your new environment.
- 1 I found this was especially effective on move in day, as people tend to feel more comfortable chatting with their family and friends around too
Personalise your room
It is important that you feel comfortable when you’re in your new room, especially as rooms in halls can feel impersonal. If you put up a few photos and posters and have some of your things out on display it can help you feel more at home.
Join university Facebook groups
Joining the Facebook groups for your university student union, halls, societies and Welcome Week, will mean that you can find out what events are going on, when and where they are, and you can meet people who are going. They are also a good way of meeting and talking to people before you arrive. There are a huge amount of events organised for your first few weeks and this is a useful way of keeping track of it all.
Make yourself familiar with your surroundings
You are most likely going to be living in a completely new area, so it is important you get to know where you are and how to get around; this will also help you feel more settled as you can start to visualise what your life in this new place will look like. Establishing how to get to town, where the bus stops are, where the closest food store is, how to get to the train station and where the doctor’s surgery is will all help in making you feel more confident in your surroundings. Try a trip into town with your new housemates so that you can figure these things out together and bond as a group too.
Go to Fresher’s Fair
The most important thing to remember at university is that it is good to have different groups of friends. If you have your flatmates, course mates and society friends then this is a nice mix of people for you to hang out with. The best way to make society friends is by signing up to the societies which interest you at the fresher’s fair which is held in the first week of university (it’s a great way to get loads of free pens and sweets too). Fresher’s fair brings all the university sports teams and societies together for you to talk to and join. A tip is to sign up for everything that is of interest to you and then when you get back home decide on the ones that you actually want to go too. Remember that it is non-committal so go crazy. There are so many societies that your interests and hobbies will most likely be covered, and you may find for the first time in your life a group of people who are passionate about the same thing as you are, and you can be yourself with.
Say yes to things that you would normally be unsure of (within reason)
Starting university is a new chapter in your life so use the first few days and weeks as a way to do things that you normally might shy away from and see how it goes. You may decide that these things are not for you – but at least you can say you tried it. Whether this be a taster session for a society, going to a bar, going to an event where you don’t know anyone, going to a fancy-dress night out, playing a game or having a flat movie night, it’s all part of embracing the university experience and seeing how you find things. The student union or your halls group organise socials for you to go to which are a fantastic way of getting to know people and having fun. It’s also a great way to try out all the bars and clubs that are on offer. If you aren’t a drinker, don’t feel left out, events are organised for you but always remember that you don’t need to drink to have a good time and the other events can be fun for you to go to as well.
If in doubt, go to the quad or central area of campus
Want something to do or people to speak to? Head to the quad area of campus as especially in the first few weeks of term there are always people around for you to speak with, things to see or people there who can suggest things for you to do. There is a tremendous amount of support for you at university, and the most important thing to remember is to just speak to people and not be afraid to reach out if you need to. After the fresher’s activities conclude,, there may not be as many people visibly in the quad to speak to but the student union and student support team are there for you to you have any questions.
Remember that everyone is in the same boat as you
You aren’t the only one going through this experience. Everyone around you is settling in as well, so the best attitude to have is to embrace everything, chat to everyone and see it as an opportunity and a new chapter, not something that is scary. Most of all, make the most of every minute as you embark on the adventure of a lifetime.