How to make the most of your first weeks at university

01 Aug 2018,
By Unite Students, Staff writer at The Common Room

You’ve arrived. You squeezed your life into a car, out of the car, and into your room. What now? When moving day is done, what are you supposed to do and think next?

Here’s our 10-step plan for getting the most out of your first few weeks as a university student.

What’s the secret to getting settled in? These 10 things of course.

1) Enrol on your course

Didn’t realise you had to? You do. You’ll be told how to do it when you get to university - some departments might have online enrolment - and there’ll be a deadline for enrolling.

Make sure you do it, or you won’t technically be a student.

2) Go to your freshers’ fair

Not your usual cup of tea? Try to go anyway. Think of it as a zero-effort way to meet new people - from the second and third years running the stalls to the hundreds of other first years wandering around.

You’ll get a ridiculous amount of free stuff and you might find the perfect society to join. Have a look at this video from UWE Bristol’s 2017 fair.

3) Get involved in events

You’ll be bombarded with info in your first few weeks. Don’t worry - you’re not expected to remember it all and people are just trying to help you find your feet. Events are a big part of that.

The university, the students’ union, your accommodation - they’ll all organise welcome activities to introduce you to places and people. Push yourself to go along to a few, it’s a great way to feel connected and combat any homesickness.

4) Register with a doctor

Don’t wait until you’re unwell. Register right away so you can be seen quickly when you need to. You won’t regret it if* the notorious freshers’ flu kicks in.

Find GP services in your area at the NHS Choices website

*when

5) Find the cheap supermarket

Find out where the nearest full-size supermarket is. Preferably one of those affordable German ones. Forget the smaller ‘express’ versions - they’ll cost you a fortune.

You’ll get better variety and value in bigger supermarkets, and doing a weekly shop will mean you’ve got plenty to eat all week - vital for getting the nutrition you need.

Read more: Batch cooking: Take the stress out of your kitchen

6) Cook with your flatmates

Your first few weeks at uni are a massive bonding opportunity. Everybody truly is in the same boat at this point. So grab an oar and start rowing.

Cooking and eating with people you’ve just met is a great way to learn about them. Put some music on, dish out the duties, break some (garlic) bread, share stories.

7) Go to lectures

Of course you should go to lectures. But in the first few weeks it’s especially important. Some people think the first year of university ‘doesn’t count’. It absolutely does.

Go to the course introductions, attend all the lectures and seminars on your timetable, and start your student career on the right foot.

8) Find your spot in the library

Your room may well become your favourite study space. But for guaranteed quiet and easy access to resources, the library is second to none. You’ll probably have to register there too.

I wrote a large chunk of my history degree at the same desk in my uni’s library. I can’t remember why I liked it so much but my mind associated that particular spot with hard work - which led to some serious productivity.

9) Enjoy some dry culture

Dry as in sober. It will do you no harm at all to enjoy some non-alcoholic fun. Reassure yourself that this does exist at a time when the opposite can seem to be true.

Arrange a group cinema trip, go bowling, have a picnic, visit a gallery or museum.

10) See the city

Okay. So you’re enrolled, you’ve met some people, found some places you might want to go back to. Now’s the time to broaden that out and explore the city a little bit.

Get out on your feet and find the hidden gems. Where’s a great coffee shop for a Sunday morning? What’s the best green space? Which shops are good for a casual browse?

Carve out your own little routines in your exciting new home.

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What’s the secret to getting settled in? These 10 things of course.
By Unite Students
Staff writer at The Common Room