A Lesson In: University Life

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

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So by this point you're probably either packed and ready to go, or have unpacked your tiny new university bedroom and have waved goodbye to Mum and Dad. You're probably a little nervous, or a lot nervous, tearful and unsure of just how you're going to cope living all by yourself. Most of this anxiety will fade over time, you'll get into a routine, learn what you do and don't need from a food shop, and how to work the washing machine. But nonetheless there are some things that I learned from my first year experience that may just help you get settled in that little bit faster.

Your room is a temple.
During your first week or so there are likely to be times when you're completely unsure of what to do, and will be holed up in your room, and it is therefore essential that you make your new bedroom somewhere you'll enjoy spending a lot of time. A cold, lifeless, dull room is only going to make you feel cold, lifeless and dull when you're feeling down and missing home, whereas a cosy, pretty room can really perk your mood! I recommend decorating your bedroom with at least one string of fairy lights, bright pretty bedding, lots of photos, posters and other mementos on your walls and finally extra touches like cushions or decorative pieces such as ornaments. Fairy lights create a lovely cosy light when you're snuggled up in bed feeling a little blue, and everything else just makes your scary new room feel that little bit more like home.

I've marked this title with a '!' and for good reason! A busy, sociable fresher is a happy fresher. Regardless of how you're feeling when you're by yourself, it's difficult to worry about the little things and missing home when you're surrounded by people having a good laugh. Even more than that, once freshers has ended and you get stuck into university life you need to have a good group of friends to support you. Someone to walk to lectures to or to watch films in bed with, as well as people to go out and get 'totally wasted' with, are really important to shape your university experience and keep you feeling happy. But equally don't let the pressure of freshers and going out get to you, if you want to go out, go out, and if you don't, don't. Everyone's social experiences will be unique so don't ever compare your social life to anyone else's, some of my best friends are those who I can just sit around and watch TV with. And if you're ever feeling shy or like you won't be able to make friends, just remember that everyone's in the same boat!

Routines, routines, routines.
Now they may be a little bit boring, but getting into a good routine will help everything from workload to cleaning to missing home that little bit less daunting. For instance, to tackle homesickness last year I had both a Skype routine with my boyfriend and family, so I always had something to look forward to, and a night time routine with myself (a lovely shower, QI and my skincare routine) which relaxed and soothed me to no end when I was feeling down. Every Wednesday was my cleaning day, I'd give my shower a good wipe down, hoover, dust, etc. and getting it over and done each week just lifted a weight off my shoulder. But whatever works for you! You might love watching Breaking Bad every night before bed, or cleaning on a Sunday, just so long as you have some structure in your life to make everything less confusing.

Get into good habits.
Think of your time at University as practice for the real world, an introductory course into life if you will. You don't see many grown, working, adults having takeaway kebabs and pizzas for dinner every night or leaving stacks of plates by their pillow, now do you? That's because, realistically, they're unhealthy and disgusting habits to get into and you should avoid them at all costs. Plan meals ahead, think of the 'basics' (pasta, rice, milk, beans, chopped tomatoes...) and the 'extras' (fresh fruit and veg, cheese, sauces...) you may need to whip up breakfast, lunch and dinner and make sure you have them! If you're thinking ahead and doing your food shops responsibly then theres no excuse for having a takeaway any more than once a fortnight as a treat. Similarly get into the habit of putting your dirty dishes away, hoovering every so often and opening the windows at least once a day. No one's going to want to hang out with you in your room if it smells of food and feet! Not only will getting into these habits vastly improve your standard of living at university, they'll equip you for future life, so the sooner you start the better!

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