Starting University?

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Starting university

​Starting university can be a wonderful and exciting experience, but it can also bring its own unique challenges. It’s natural to feel nervous or overwhelmed during the first few weeks at university, and it can be a while before you feel like you’ve found your feet.

Our main advice is: take care of yourself. 

This section is full of tips and resources to help you with the transition (back) to university!

On this page you will find:

  • Expectation and worries
  • Practical tips for moving (back) to university
  • Freshers week
  • Looking after yourself

Want to feel university ready? Turn to our guides for helpful tips in understanding university life!

​Expectations and Worries

Making Friends
It’s common to worry that you won’t make friends at university. However, it is important to remember that everybody will be in the same position as you. Very few first year students will know anybody else at their university, so it is likely that they’ll be experiencing the same concerns. In fact, in a survey, more than half of students found it easier to make friends than they had expected.
Here are some practical tips on getting talking to people:
  • Leave your door open while you’re unpacking in your room, or hang a friendly sign from it.
  • Ask your housemates or coursemates if they’d like to explore the campus or the town centre. Even if they’ve already done it, you can ask them to give you a tour.
  • Consider having a stash of biscuits or teabags for group situations – you’ll instantly be loved.
  • Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself randomly to somebody you’re standing in line with or sat next to. This doesn’t just go for freshers week either! University can always be an opportunity to meet new people.
  • Exchange numbers with people on your course and agree to go to lectures together – this sets you up for academic as well as social friendships.
  • Explore different societies – you’ll meet lots of different kinds of people with similar interests to you. It’s worth trying out new things, because you might find an interest in something that you hadn’t expected.
​Missing Home
Perhaps you aren’t worried about missing home and you can’t wait to get started. Even so the likelihood is that someone you know or perhaps even yourself at some point may start to miss home.

In those situations or for those who are feeling worried before making the move, know that moving away from home is a change that can be worrisome but one that affects everyone at some point in their life. Remember that technology can can make the world of difference, as it’s easy to get in contact with the people you miss.

It can also help to prepare for some aspects of living away from home that require adjustment to usual routines such as food shopping, cooking, laundry etc. You could plan out your time for the week, share tips and ideas with other students or even share these responsibilities with friends by taking it in turns to cook meals, buy food etc. Depending on where you are you might be able to take advantage of university canteens and washing facilities to make living away from home easier.

It’s worth noting that over half of students find living away from home easier than expected. You will probably find that at university there’s still a strong supportive community in place, with many staff and students going through a similar change.

If you have been at university for a few weeks and you still feel unsettled, it’s okay. Going to university marks a huge change in your environment and lifestyle. This change can take a while to get used to. More than half of students feel homesick during this time. For some people, visiting home initially and slowly reducing the frequency can be really useful to help adjust.

In the meantime, here are some wonderful resources:
– How to cope with change
– Part 1: Exploring your new surroundings
– Part 2: How to overcome homesickness
– Part 3: Managing your workload

​Practical tips before you move (and back)

There are lots of logistical tasks which are often overlooked that can help to ensure your transition to (or back to) university goes smoothly. There are plenty of resources out there to help you organise these logistics. Try starting your own list and use these guides for a checklist and inspiration:
  • Studential has a range of guides on budgeting, council tax, sorting out a TV license, and so on.
  • Perhaps the best checklist of items to take comes from the Student Room forums (the list has everything you could possibly want to take, so you’re by no means obliged to take it all!)
  • Brightknowledge has a list of practical things to do first once you’ve moved into university.

​Freshers’ Week

It’s easy to drown in the sheer number of articles and blog posts that give lists of tips for “getting through” or “surviving” freshers’ week. The important thing to remember is that freshers’ week doesn’t have to be the best, most exciting part of your university experience. For a lot of people it’s a great experience but don’t worry if it doesn’t turn out to be the best week of your life. It’s ok to feel whatever you feel about freshers’ week. Another thing to realise is that you’re entering a supportive community where students and staff are working to make sure that things go smoothly.

It won’t be necessary to memorise all of the tips you find on the internet, if you run into any difficulties remember that there are lots of people who are there to support you, from the Students’ Union welfare officer and student advice services, to fellow students who can point you in the right direction.

Here are some of the best compilations of freshers’ week tips:
– Freshers’ week tips from The Student Room
– Freshers’ week tips from Studential

Feeling pressured to drink?

Freshers’ week and university life in general is often associated with the pressure to drink from friends, and the misperception that you need to drink to have fun. This needn’t be the case.

You don’t need to order alcoholic drinks at the bar – if you would rather stick with soft drinks, do so and don’t let people make you doubt your decision. If nights out are something you would rather not fill your week with there are plenty of alternatives. In recent years, many university Students’ Unions have begun to organise freshers’ week events which are neither associated with nightclubs or alcohol. The preconception that university life involves going out and drinking too much is a myth.