Discover what you need to do before university with this guide! Our step-by-step list outlines some of the tasks you will need to complete before heading off to your new life at university. These simple tips will help you find out what you should know before university to help make your settling-in period stress-free.
1. Arrange awesome accommodation
Deciding your student accommodation can be a daunting task and should be the first thing you do before university, especially if you are an international student. Whether you are looking for a private suite, to have your own kitchen and nobody else to share with. Or, looking at shared flats to enjoy living the real student life and meeting new people, there are pros and cons to be weighed up for both.
If you are struggling to decide between private and shared accommodation, create a list of all the pros and cons of each. Looking at your options in this clear format will help you to get a better understanding and make the best decision for you. Either way, it’s only going to be for the first year, so if after going to university and deciding you’d prefer one or the other, it’s easy to make the change for your second year of student accommodation.
Once you have organised your student accommodation, make sure you have everything you need to make it feel like home. Taking a couple of home-comforts will help ensure you don't feel too homesick on your first couple of weeks at your new uni life.
2. Dominate your student finances
Student finances are often not properly thought about before going to uni, leading to plain pasta for dinner and miserable social lives. Make sure you do your research and get the best student loan and bank account for you. Factor in your rent, groceries, social life, bills, transport and any other costs - spreadsheets are your friend!
Talk to your parents about how they manage their finances for tips on how to save your fun-tokens. Shopping in bulk, using a railcard and getting a TOTUM discount card will all help you save the spends, don’t dismiss a 10% or 20% discount, these all add up!
Did you know, 50% of students don’t fully understand their loan arrangement and 70% don’t know their interest rate? Source: Save The Student.
3. Stay organised and decide what to take
Make sure you don’t arrive at university only to realise you forgot your favourite pillow, before packing, mentally split your belongings in half, what you are taking with you to uni and what you aren’t. Try to be as frugal as possible as there is no need to pack your entire bedroom and it’s always easier to add more than pack less!
Prioritise what you need by using a university packing checklist. These simple lists have everything you need, plus the “essentials” all students need, from drinking games to earplugs, everything you haven’t thought of! Don’t forget your student stationery! Notepads, pens and folders will help you stay organised in your classes from the get-go.
4. Work out your transport
Explore the area around your accommodation and find out the easiest routes to and from the city centre, university campus and train stations. If everything is within walking distance, great! However, you might want to reconsider this in winter.
In the UK, different cities often have different options when it comes to public transport. Trams can be a great alternative to buses and are often more frequent during peak times. Cities like Swansea offer a 24 hour night bus service to make it easy for students on nights out to get back to their accommodation.
5. Get to know your new area
Getting to know a new city can seem scary at first, but don’t be afraid to be a tourist! Hit up the local museums, galleries and attractions to gain an insight into your new home. Soon enough, you’ll learn your way around the streets and be the go-to person on campus for the best places to eat and drink.
Try using Trip Adviser to discover great places to eat in your local area, or if you like your craft ales, Untappd is a great app to find the best bars in a city - often with local beers on tap.
However, the best way to discover a place is to put your phone away and simply walk. Soaking in the atmosphere and finding your own path will allow you to discover boutique shops and independent cafe’s, which you might have otherwise overlooked.
6. Learn some essential cooking skills
As much as you might like to, you cannot live off takeaways for the duration of your uni-stay. Get to grips with some of the absolute cooking essentials before you leave for uni and impress your flat-mates with epic meals.
Some staple foods to take to uni are; pasta, rice, cereals and canned foods. Taking some frozen pizzas and microwave meals are great, cheap alternatives to take-aways on nights where you don’t feel like cooking. Make sure you scope out your local supermarket, don't rely on the corner shop!
Try watching a couple of youtube videos or cooking programmes to get a basic understanding, or if you have some free time before heading to university, and would like some extra cash, why not seek out a part-time job at your local takeaway or cafe.
At true, we often have wellbeing and cooking classes, teaching our guests the importance of a balanced diet and how to make some super-tasty comfort foods. Our on-site trust cafe is open 24 hours so if you ever find yourself short of the essentials don't worry! The shop stocks what you need!
7. “Meet” your future flatmates
By getting to know your future flatmates before moving in with them you can help eliminate any awkward first-moments. Get in touch via Facebook groups and make moving in a seamless transition.
First impressions are always a daunting prospect, so by breaking the ice via social media, you can already know your common interests and so plan a great first week at your accommodation - whether it be exploring the cities museums and culture, or having a great night out.
8. Get ready for freshers week
Freshers week was created to make it as easy as possible for new students to meet new people and form friendships with other like-minded students. The student’s union will host fairs and get-togethers so that new students can discover clubs and sports teams they may be interested in. Get stuck-into freshers week and meet as many people as possible, friendships formed at freshers can last a lifetime!
Most universities will publish their fresher’s week schedule a few weeks before the new term starts. There is always fancy dress, which is a great ice-breaker for meeting new people, so make sure you pack a cool outfit for the theme!
9. Factor in your independent study
Contrary to popular belief, university is not all about partying until the sun comes up. A large portion of university life is independent study - homework for grown-ups. Make sure you have realistic expectations of the amount of work you need to be responsible for within your own time to avoid any nasty surprises.
If you have joined any sports clubs or societies during freshers week, these can sometimes contradict the time of you lectures, so making sure you know your timetable will ensure you don’t get any wires crossed!
10. Make the most of your time
You might not think it now, but homesickness is a common issue among university students. Make sure you make the most of the time you have with your family and friends before leaving. Although, remember you can still facetime them no matter where you are in the world!
Try organising a holiday with your existing friend group before moving away, as it might be difficult to arrange once you have all gone separate ways and the cost of student life kicks-in!
Make sure you give your family (and pets) as much of your time as possible before leaving. Recruit your parents into helping you with your “uni-shop” and re-pay them with dinner, prepared using your new-found cooking skills!
The weeks leading up to university can be scary, but remember, once you arrive and settle in, university can be some of the best years of your whole life!