Getting ready to return to University? Coming for the first time?

Two students smiling, outside during Welcome

Whatever your year of study, age, or location, returning or starting university after the last year (or so) might feel a little uneasy, but we are here to ease some of those nerves and get you excited about joining us at the University of Reading.

2020-now has been a rollercoaster of emotions for everyone, the ‘normal’ university experience has changed and become uncertain. We have all had to try and adapt to new rules and regulations in a very unknown future. So it is natural and okay to feel anxious about returning to studies or joining the university at this time.

It is true to say that the university is also navigating this change, and although things are never 100% certain we can give you some tips and advice, so you can get EXCITED about starting/returning to university in 2021. So let’s get started:

You are never alone

The University of Reading has some amazing people behind the scenes that will try and make every day as easy as possible. These people all have different skills to be able to give you advice, tips or just to talk through things/ This includes, money, wellbeing, welfare, disability, international, study, academic, careers and accommodation advice. The best place to start is always Essentials – here you will find links and contacts to help you.

Take a look at these quick links:

We also have dedicated support teams that form ‘Student Services’ and you can find most teams based in the Carrington Building on campus. Take a look on Essentials to find out the best way to get in contact.

Maybe you don’t know what sort of support you might need? If so maybe try out the UoR Student Wellness Check, here you will answer a few questions and from that info you will get a list of contacts suitable for you.

Bookmark our covid-related advice web pages – this is where we put all the latest information for University students, including vaccine advice, international travel, self-isolation and general information. You don’t need to read all the information but is handy to refer to given that advice can change rapidly.

You may not need these services right now but it is great to know they are there if you ever need them.

Get ready to Learn>Develop>Succeed with Life Tools 

During the term time, you can join in with the Life Tools programme. Life Tools is an ongoing series of webinars designed to help you succeeded at university and gain tools that will help you in your journey, some of the webinar topics include:

  • Settling in, getting to know others
  • Living well on a student budget
  • Living in the UK
  • Maximise your university experience
  • Stressed? Learn ways to maintain your health
  • Bouncing back from setbacks
  •  A good night’s sleep
  • Re-thinking identities
  • Mindfulness
  • Confidence: “I can” and “I will”

You can join in with the webinars at any time, you don’t have to join all and there are no assessments.

“They really helped give practical advice on how to be more organised, motivated, and to do well. They helped me to always feel like I was working on improving myself, not just improving academically.” “Undertaking the interesting Life Tools programme has equipped me with an array of transferable skills, useful to me both professionally as well as personally. Be it from uncovering techniques to maintain my motivation, getting better sleep, or be it managing stress, I have been able to develop a full package of qualities, which will help me in University and when I leave.” – UoR student

Find out more and get involved.

Finding your way around campus

Whichever of our campuses you are on, big or small, it can be daunting going to your University campus for the first time. Pre-arrival you may want to take a look at our Campus Maps to locate the buildings that you need to know. If you are local or nearby why not take a trip over to Whiteknights, Greenlands or London Road, each has great coffee facilities and you can spend some time taking in our wonderful green campuses and finding a few buildings you need to know about.

If you are not local, you have the option of taking on our virtual tours, which give you an overview of lots of areas across our campuses so you can explore from the comfort of your home.

The main point we want to make is that it is normal to feel anxious about finding your way around somewhere new, but during the start of term, there will be lots of people on campus to help you find where you need to be. If you get lost (we have many times) don’t worry, there are loads of maps all over campus.

Meeting new people and making new friends

Making new friends causes a lot of worry for many, and this is a totally normal way to feel, the unknown can be scary – but remember you are in the same boat as a lot of others, who will also be up for making friends. “In a survey, more than half of students found it easier to make friends than they had expected.” – Student Minds.

The University has lots of great networks and ways you can meet new people, here are a few tips:

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – Welcome can be a very fun but full on time, you will meet lots of people during this time, try to enjoy the experience if you don’t make lots of friends during this time there are lots of other ways and opportunities to make connections.

Join in on social media groups – before coming to the university you get to know the university and others through social media here are a few we recommend: UoR Student Life Instagram, RUSU Community Facebook, UoR groups facebook, Halls Facebook groups.

Join in on eventsStudent events, Freshers events. Throwing yourself into the events during Welcome/Freshers can be a good way to meet new people and get chatting.

Your course – you may have Welcome events tied to your course, make sure you go along, get involved AND sit next to others during lectures. Striking up a conversation with someone else might be a bit easier given that you are both on the same course, might have similar interests and will be navigating this new course at the same time.

Halls/house shares – Say ‘Hi’ to your neighbours or flatmates, help them move in, and buy a doorstop to keep your room door open, inviting people to get to know you.

Join in with societies – There are SO many different societies within the Reading University Students Union (RUSU) – and during Welcome/freshers you can get a taster:

Volunteering & Sustainability Fayre
Tuesday 21st September

Societies & Media Fayre
Wednesday 22nd September

Sports & Dance Fayre
Thursday 23rd September

These are just a handful of tips, check out this video on making friends from Student Space:

Feeling homesick

Homesickness is very common, and many students will experience this at some point as they adjust to university life. It is important for you to remember that you are not alone and that there is plenty of help and support available.

Attending Welcome events are a great way to meet new people and get to know the University. Take a look at the wide range of student-led societies that you can join.

The Student Welfare Team is here to help with any personal difficulties that you may experience and can offer advice and support with settling in and adjusting to University life.

Maintaining old networks – can be important too, take a look at this expert article by Student Space which might be of use to you.

Take a look at these student experiences of feeling homesick at university with tips and advice to overcome them:

Get involved in Welcome 2021!

Wherever you are from and whatever your background/age/reason for coming to Reading, it is something to be celebrated. During Welcome, you will find lots of events and things to do to meet like-minded people and start building friendships. To stay on top of what is going on make sure you download the UoR Welcome app which will give you the events happening each day. You will also want to download the UoR Student app, so when you are enrolled you can access your timetable, student card, outlook, support links, maps and the latest news tailored to you.

Take a look at the Welcome Guide for 2021 for handy info on becoming a student or returning for 2021/22.

Meeting tutors & Navigating complex university processes

During Welcome and beyond you will meet your tutors on your course alongside many others that will help on your university journey. Your course will have its own Welcome and settling in events, so make sure you know when these are by checking the UoR Welcome pages and events.

All undergraduate and postgraduate taught students are allocated an Academic Tutor – a member of academic staff in your School or Department who acts as a key point of contact throughout your degree. During Welcome, you will be allocated an Academic Tutor, who you will meet with during your time at university.

Find out more.

Like all universities, we have processes in place for lots of different things and some of these can seem complex. Our advice for navigating these would be to ask for help, and be aware of what processes are available to you.

Sometimes things don’t go to plan. You may find yourself in a position where you need a helping hand to make that deadline or grade.

It’s normal, and we want to ensure you have access to the necessary support required for you to achieve your end goals.

Take a look at our Assistance with your studies and exams on Essentials which is a really important page to know about.

Here are a few others:

The most important thing is to ask for help from your academic tutor, school or seek support from our support centres.


We hope you have a wonderful few weeks coming back/join us on campus. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself and know there is always help from the University.

Further resources for you:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *