How To Get Ready For University

16 June 2019


The long summer after finishing A-Levels is fantastic, but towards the end I found myself floating around rather aimlessly with not a lot to do besides seeing my friends or trying to earn a bit of cash at work. Although I enjoyed devoting a lot of my spare time to shopping for my new bedroom in halls, looking back now I can think of a couple of other small tasks which would have been useful in helping me prepare for the next chapter.

1. Get a head start on the reading
I really didn't try to get started with anything on my reading list during the holidays. I naively thought I would have time to do it when I got to uni. Oh how wrong I was, once you arrive at the uni the first couple weeks are very full on and hectic. Theres constantly stuff going on, whether its social stuff or just simple things like trying to find your way round campus or the nearest place to do your weekly shop. I wish I had at least finished the assigned reading for the first couple of weeks rather than putting it off and sitting in my first seminar wondering what was going on. Looking back now, the reading load for first year was really minimal compared to the last two years so I really had no excuse for not completing it, well, other than my poor time management that is.

2. Cooking, cooking, and more cooking.
When I arrived in first year there were only a handful of proper meals I knew how to make, luckily I was on meal plan at the time so I didn't starve. However, I should really have devoted some more time in the holidays to branching out and learning some different recipes, especially whilst I had my mum around for guidance. You won't have to miss home cooking if you know how to recreate it whilst you're away, and even better you can learn some great meals to batch cook which will save you lots of time and money during term time. Two years on I'm a much more confident cook and I love testing out new recipes, however there are some great student cookbooks out there to help bridge the gap when you're just starting out. For example 'Nosh for Students' even has a dedicated meal planning section with a pre-planned list of weekly meals and budgeted shopping list. Keep an eye on my Instagram too if you want to see what I've been cooking up recently.

3. Minimise your life
Nothing shows you quite how much stuff you own like moving out to uni. On arrivals weekend I had so much stuff I could barely fit it all into the car. And unsurprisingly, I did not need or use it all. I probably didn't even use half of it. My advice here would be to have a huge clear out during the summer before you start packing to move away. University is a great time for a fresh start anyway, so look through all your clothes, home comforts and anything else you may have accumulated to see what you really still need. I think the key thing here is to get rid of any non-functional 'stuff', leave it behind at least for the first couple weeks to see if you can survive without it, and remember that you're not moving to the middle of nowhere, there will be shops in your new home town if you desperately need something. If you're still short on space in the car then you could try doing an online click and collect order for some of the bulkier items such as bedding, clothing airers and the like. You could also do a big online food shop and click and collect it to the nearest store to your halls, just don't forget to go and collect it whilst you still have the help of someone with a car!

4. Clear out your social media accounts
This really isn't as essential as some of the previous suggestions, its more of an optional suggestion for peace of mind. Before you meet all of your new course-mates and flat-mates you could scroll back on your social media accounts and hide or delete any embarrassing posts. Personally, the idea of my new mates being able to see my tragic facebook statuses and tagged pictures from 2008 is cringe inducing. Its also worth noting that this is a good time to make your social media accounts more secure, delete anyone you don't really know and make sure that all your posts aren't set to public, you may want to share the adventures of freshers week with your new friends but that doesn't mean that potential employers need to see it too.

5. Save for a rainy day (or freshers week)
Student maintenance loans usually don't arrive in your bank account until the official first day of term, which can sometimes be up to two weeks after you arrive for Freshers. During this time you'll probably want to be joining societies and sports, exploring your new home town and making the most of social activities and nights out before lectures start, all of which cost money. You don't want to be in your overdraft before term even starts but equally you don't want to miss out on all the fantastic experiences on offer. The solution then, is to get working over summer and put a little pot of money together for freshers week so you can enjoy the experience, you can 'pay yourself back' so to speak once your student loan comes in. If you don't currently have a job try picking up some ad hoc work with an agency, or asking friends and family to donate any old items which they wouldn't mind you selling online or at a car boot sale.

I hope these suggestions have given you a couple of ideas for occupying your time during the summer and some ways to make sure you're starting this fresh chapter in the best position possible. Finally, don't forget to make the most of your time at home, make time for your family, and create some lasting memories with your home friends while you still can.


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