What to do if you’re returning to uni - and how to settle back in

14 Apr 2021
By Unite Students, Staff writer at The Common Room

Heading back to university for the first time in months and not sure what to do? Here, we’ve outlined everything you need to know to help you settle back into uni life.

Not everyone is heading back yet. But, for those who have chosen to, you’ll be forgiven if you’re feeling a little unsure about getting back into the swing of things.

After months of studying from home, watching lecturers through video calls and having zero face-to-face contact with your flatmates, it might seem like you’re starting the academic year all over again.

There’s no reason to be intimidated, though, and we’re here to help.

But, first, here are some of the key things you need to consider before you head back to campus.

1. Your course might not be welcoming you back to campus yet

So far, only certain types of courses are reopening the real-life lecture hall doors to students.

If you aren’t sure if your course is going to be moving back to campus, after months of studying online, check in with your university and find out what the current protocols are.

Some courses may be moving to a more ‘blended’ learning environment, where practical lectures are being moved back to campus, with theory-based learning still taking place online.

2. You might need to take regular Covid tests if you’re going to be on campus

Every university will have different protocols when it comes to Covid testing, so you’ll need to check whether you are required to undergo regular testing in order to start your course again.

The good news is that you’ll now be able to access free rapid testing twice a week, after the Government announced a country-wide rollout as an essential part of easing restrictions.

3. Your Unite Student accommodation is open but you must follow the rules

Your Unite flat is your home-from-home and remains open, as it has throughout the pandemic, which means you’re welcome to study from your student accommodation.

When moving back to your flat, you should follow your university’s instructions, observe the government’s social distancing guidance and take note of the following advice:

  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Keep two metres away from other people
  • Wear face coverings in all communal areas of the property (unless you can’t due to medical reasons)
  • Stick to the current household socialising restrictions in your area
  • Only share lifts with people in your household
  • Only come to reception when necessary

While you may have family members or friends who wish to travel with you to drop you off at your flat, bear in mind that we still have a ‘no-guest’ policy in place, in-line with government guidance - meaning guests will not be able to enter your accommodation with you.

So, what now?

If you’ve decided to return to your accommodation, it’s time to get settled back in!

With that in mind, here are some top tips on how to get back into the swing of things and feeling at home in no time.

Bring extra stuff back with you

You might be sick of all the packing and unpacking by now, but this is a great opportunity to bring stuff back with you that you couldn’t fit into the car the first time around.

Really missing that fluffy pillow from your childhood bedroom? Add it to the suitcase. This is your chance to make your university living space homier than ever before.

Get stocked-up

The first thing to do when you arrive is go food shopping.

This limits the risk of falling into the trap of spending extra money (that you really can’t afford to waste) on take-out food because you’re too tired to go to the shops at 7pm.

It’s also good to know you’ve got food in case you need to self-isolate in your flat.

Which brings us nicely to…

… cooking again

After months of your parents cooking most of your meals, it’s time to get back in the kitchen.

So, to make the task less laborious, why not change things up a bit? You can find plenty of meal inspiration right here and, you never know, you might find that now is your time to shine at the stove.

Routine, routine, routine

It can be overwhelming to come back and know that you have deadlines on the horizon, or exams that you should have done more revision for but didn’t get around to.

Having a daily routine can help you get more focused, as well as ensure you smash those deadlines with ease.

Just don’t forget to plan a little downtime in there, too – or you’ll probably wonder why you came back at all.

If you’re struggling on how to get started, check out student writer Matt’s top tips on how to stop procrastinating.

Catch up with your flatmates

It can be hard to say goodbye to your family for another term, especially when, under current circumstances, seeing each other again is so up in the air.

So, take some time to reacquaint yourself with your flatmates; plan a movie session for the first night back or try and sit down to dinner together.

Small things can really help tackle the feeling of homesickness and, if you’re still struggling, don’t be scared to talk to someone.

With almost half (46%) of you claiming that friends have been the biggest support through Covid-19 and your transition to university, never underestimate the power of a good listener.

Make getting outside an everyday must

Getting back out to explore your student city will help you reconnect with your surroundings.

And it’ll probably remind you of why you wanted to study there in the first place.

If you can, find somewhere away from the hustle and bustle where you can enjoy all the nature your city has to offer – after all, the mental health benefits of spending time outdoors can’t be undervalued.

Chat to your lecturers

If you’re feeling a bit lost with your course since you got back, drop an email to one of your lecturers – perhaps the one you think is most relatable.

They’ll be happy to do a one-to-one (even over Zoom) and help you get back on top of your work with advice or pointers for moving forward.

Just don’t forget that lecturers are very different to your old school teachers; while they give you more time to grow as an adult, be wary that they may be working on their own research projects while running the course.

This could mean that one-to-one contact sessions are limited to just certain days of the week, so make sure you have all your questions ready during that planned call.

For more tips on managing your health and well-being at uni, click here.

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Staff writer at The Common Room