How to survive your first few weeks at university

A world of opportunities lies ahead of you…

So you’ve left school with a university place secured and now stand on the cusp of adulthood and independence. Congratulations, it’s a landmark moment. A world of opportunities lies ahead of you…

You’ve new surroundings to explore, friends to make, interests to discover and ambitions to fulfil. No doubt, you’ve also got some cash to spend.

Alas, without wanting to crush the dream, you’re going to make mistakes along the way. The key is remembering that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel, even when you’re staring into the toilet bowl with the hangover from hell…

Quidco Discover runs through a few handy tips to help all university beginners survive their first few weeks.

Pace yourself

It may be called Freshers’ Week, but with most university campuses organising at least a fortnight of hedonistic parties and society presentations you’d be advised to pace yourself.

Drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels within an hour of being dropped off might feel like an easy way to ease tension and lubricate nervy small talk but by the next morning you’ll be lying in the foetal position wishing you hadn’t been born. It’d be a shame for a stonking headache and churning stomach to force you to miss that interpretive dance class you signed up for at the Freshers’ Fair.

Ease yourself into proceedings, have a hangover cure up your sleeve, don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with, don’t over-commit to the point your diary looks daunting and try to get the odd early night

Think ahead

Make sure you consistently attend lectures from the off and meet deadlines for coursework. You won’t be chased up like you were at school and once you fall behind it can be tough to catch up again.

If it dawns on you within a couple of lectures that you’ve made a horrendous mistake and you don’t in fact have any interest in equestrian psychology, it’s best to act swiftly.

Trying to grin and bear a three-year course just to save face is unwise. If you don’t like what you’re studying it’ll be tough maintaining the motivation needed to secure a decent grade. Moreover when you come to seek employment you could be severely limiting your future options.

You can access careers guidance and information in person at your university careers service or via the web. It’s perhaps better to try and speak to a careers adviser, since leaving or changing course will often have other implications, and you should get as much information as possible.

Student services also offer help and include many of the following departments: finance; counseling; careers; study skills or effective learning; disability advice, medical advice and chaplaincy.

Budget

If you’re worried about spending your student loan wisely, be sure to set and stick to a daily budget (StudentCalculator.org is a great tool) and leave your debit and or credit cards at home when you head out for the evening. There’s nothing worse than waking up with a pocket full of receipts because you generously bought the whole pub a drink after a few shots. Don’t go signing up to hundreds of societies if they are all asking for cash up front.

If you need to talk to someone about your finances drop in to your university’s student advice centre or contact the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. The National Union of Students (NUS) also has a list of useful links on its website.

Remember, when you’re handed a reading list for each course you don’t need to buy every book. You’ll soon figure out the must-haves and the rest you can get from the library.

If you’re not living in halls and have utility bills to pay, check out Money Saving Expert’s guide to finding the best student deals. We shouldn’t have to remind you, but you can earn cashback on pretty much anything when you shop through Quidco!

Don’t buy into the notion that you have to live off Baked Beans, its more than possible to eat healthy and cheaply. The only thing stopping you is your own laziness and inexperience.

Stay safe

There’s so much going on at university that it’s easy to forget about your own well-being. We’re not suggesting you wrap yourself in cotton wool and leave your room only to attend lectures, but there are a few practical concerns you should bear in mind.

Naturally it’s not a good idea to find yourself wandering the streets alone in late at night. In the first few weeks, while you’re still getting your bearings, try sticking to larger groups, as there’s safety in numbers.

Coughs and colds spread very easily at university, especially in the first few weeks of term. Combined with tiredness and poor diet it often leads to outbreaks of ‘freshers’ flu’. Do your best to get regular exercise, have a first aid kit to hand, remember to register with a GP and dentist and know where the nearest A&E and walk-in centre is, in case of emergency.

If you’re heading out for a big night stick within the recommended limits of alcohol consumption and drink plenty of water. If you’re sexually active at university it’s important to practice safe sex. Condoms are often available for free at student unions, as well as community contraceptive clinics and sexual health and genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics. If you are unsure of your contraceptive options, contact your GP.

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