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A Fresher’s Manual: Tips on Your First Year at University

students stood in group

The first year at university comes with a wide range of experiences, challenges, and opportunities. Yes, it’s only normal to feel a tad tense at this point in time – but don’t worry, there’s so much to look forward to.

As well as studying a subject you are truly passionate about, you will meet peers from all over the world. 17% of Brits say they first met their current closest friends at university, so you might find a few mates for life, too!

So, what can you do to create a harmonious environment and experience as you live away from home for the very first time? Abodus Student Living, expert in providing homely student accommodation across the country, shares tips on how to ease into university life as a fresher.

Connect with people on social media before you set off

As you get ready to pack your bags and tick off practical things from your to-do list, think about connecting with people before even setting off for university.

The beauty of social media is that it allows you to reach out to future course mates and flatmates online. This can help take away some of the first-day nerves and make your initial few weeks less intimidating.

If you are going to share student accommodation in Leeds, Bristol, or Newcastle, getting in tttacouch with your fellow roomies might be a good way to coordinate what to bring. It can also get the conversation flowing and help you know each other a bit more, meaning you won’t find yourself in a house of complete ‘strangers’ when you eventually move in.

So, search for fresher groups on Facebook and don’t be scared to drop a message to people who are attending the same uni.

Okay, it may feel a bit awkward at first, and you’ll find yourself asking some basic, cringe, ice-breaking questions. But does it really matter? Just put yourself out there. Remember that you are all in the same boat!

It’s okay not to find your bestie straight away

Let’s face it – most freshers worry about making friends at uni. And while it is a daunting thought at first, rest assured that there will be plenty of occasions to meet people who match your vibe.

Aaron Kirkwood, Senior Sales & Marketing Manager at Abodus Student Living, said: “Helping your flatmates unpack their stuff, keeping your door open, hanging out in communal areas, going to your course induction, sitting next to fellow students at lectures, and attending freshers’ events are all excellent ways to form new friendships.

“If you don’t find your tribe in the space of a week or two, don’t despair – it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s completely normal.

“Freshers’ week is a busy time where everyone is trying to impress and, as a result, may not feel like your cup of tea. But once that period of novelty is over, fellow freshers will start to settle down, and you will get the chance to appreciate people’s true interests and personalities.”

Experience new things and join societies

Another great way to get involved in the hustle and bustle of university life is to try new things and experiences.

Of course, you are mainly there to attend lessons, read infinite books, take exams, and – after a few years – graduate in a field of study that you love. But university is also the ideal time to step out of your comfort zone, cultivate a passion, or pursue something you’ve always dreamt of doing.

Joining a society, for instance, can help you achieve all that. If you have a soft spot for Stilton and Sauvignon Blanc, you could join a cheese & wine society. Or if you’ve been wanting to have a go at ballroom dancing or trampolining, then subscribing to a sports society is the perfect option for you.

Each university has a large array of societies to appeal to people from all walks of life. As well as helping you discover new interests and make fun memories, uni societies allow you to meet like-minded students and even potentially boost your CV.    

Personalise your space

With so many things happening at once and starting ‘afresh’ in a new city or environment, it is natural to feel overwhelmed in the first few weeks.

According to NUS, up to 70% of UK students feel homesick in the early stages of their uni experience. So if you are missing your family and friends from home, there is nothing wrong with that – others are likely to share your same sentiments, too.

The good news is that, generally, these symptoms tend to fade after a short while. But to nip the problem in the bud, think about decorating your bedroom with objects that remind you of home. This can give you great comfort when you are feeling a bit nostalgic or under the weather, making the transition to university life more seamless and manageable.

Also, a personalised room can act as a stress-free sanctuary, offering a space to chill and unwind after long days of studying and socialising.

Take time to… be a tourist!

Your first weeks as a fresher are also the perfect time to put your tourist cap on and explore your new city. You are bound to spend three or more years there, so start discovering the secrets of your new town and find out what it has to offer.

You might find a quirky bar to sip coffee and chat with your course pals or spot some beautiful parks or neighbourhoods for relaxing walks after info-packed lectures.

If you want a heads-up before touring the streets of your new home, check out potential attractions and recommendations on TripAdvisor. And if one of your flatmates has a car, you could set off on a day trip and drive around the surrounding areas in search of hidden gems.

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