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Belated Prep-for-Uni Tips for First Years

Around about now, most Sixth Formers would've already gotten their places at university confirmed. To those, I say CONGRATULATIONS!!! To the people still waiting for replies or offers via Clearing or Adjustment, I say hang in there; you will be just fine!

I suffered a bit of a setback myself this year as I didn't get the grades I wanted to so I have been slightly depressed [sad face] howeveeerrr, I am going to the University of Leeds next month to study Mechatronics and Robotics! Can I get a whoop-whoop?? I'm excited. Are you excited? I'm excited.

I've never been to Leeds before but from my research, I think I can safely say I'm in for a very active night-life. I don't know whether to be excited or scared. I can count the number of parties I've been to that didn't involve the exchange of vows or themed cakes on one hand. And when I do, it looks like I'm giving you the peace sign.

How sad is that? I'm eighteen and I've never even been to a club. And it's not because I'm not allowed either. Well, that's more or less a recent development. There were non-verbal rules regarding my social activities that Mama Chaos vehemently denies were ever put in place whenever I blame her for my social awkwardness for that very reason: they were non-verbal. But that's a story for another time.

My basically non-existent party experience basically means I will be making up for it big time at Freshers' Week...sans alcohol. I don't know if that's even possible, partying without a drink. But I'm just not a fan so I will definitely be sipping water (vodka to the presumptuous) or apple juice (beer to the presumptuous) every night in 'sophisticated sobriety.'

Anywaaay I've only just gotten the wheels in motion regarding school supplies and social calendar-planning and the like. I know, I know. Why on earth did I leave it so late? I guess I was feeling adventurous. Working under pressure makes me feel like I'm defusing a bomb, SWAT team-style.

Like the Scouts, my motto has always been: "Be prepared." But I've had to change it to "be prepared...but not too prepared" for university.

Ordinarily I would have the entire city map crammed already along with a copy of the bus times, and there would be a rough draft of my day-to-day time table sorted right from the day I arrive on campus in my notepad, just so I get the most out of my Freshman experience.

But I've been told (about a hundred million times) there's no such thing as "organized fun." Apparently going with the flow is the better option. Plus, being a know-it-all won't exactly help me make any friends and I already have enough problems in that department lol.

But since I'd rather not be completely clueless because not knowing makes me irritable (case study: I skip to the end of a book to see how it ends before I start it), I will be obeying the altered motto.

Although I'd like to keep from becoming the Hermoine Granger of Freshers' Week, I think it is important to have at least some idea of what's going on so you don't miss out on some of the awesome stuff your university has to offer. So here are my top five tips to follow before you start university as a Fresher.

Tip #1 - Suss Out Your New Home
You should already know where you're going to be living for the next year but if you don't, it's time to sort it out. I'm talking location, facilities, catering, cost, number of students etc. Is it university accommodation or private housing? On campus or off? How close are you to the city centre? How close do you want to be? Tolerance to smashing bottles and drunk yelling is key, bearing in mind there will be late nights spent slaving over coursework after which all you'll want to do is sleep.
Are you sharing bathroom facilities? Do you want to share bathroom facilities? What is the kitchen like? Are there any communal areas, like a TV lounge? Very important. Is your rent all-inclusive, or will you have to pay for electricity and heating, insurance, internet etc separately? It's all about the fine print peeps.
Catered or self catered? How do you feel about cooking for yourself? I'm pretty darn excited. It's like being in a lab only you get to eat the finished product. Try that in Chem class. I dare you. Do you have a weekly budget for food? Oh, and this one's really important... can you cook?
How much are you willing to pay per week for your room? Wash basin or en suite? Are there postgraduates or just undergrads in your building? Which would you prefer? How many?
You should have answers to them all.

Tip #2 - Crack Down on Your Social Media
I've been stalking my university's Student Union's Twitter account for a while now so I think I've got a pretty good idea of what's going on. For instance, I know that I will not be attending the Mug Painting event on the 17th. Not really my thing. However, the Film Night thing sounds amazeballs. Honestly, social media is the best thing to happen to prospective university students so get on that. Also some halls of residence have Facebook pages you can join to meet people before you even get there. Handy? I think so.

Tip #3 - Stock up on Supplies
The next thing on your to-do list should be to go shopping for school and kitchen supplies. Pots, pans, plates, cutlery, food and condiments with extended sell-by dates such as jam and ketchup, bedding (you should sort out Tip #1 first to check if it's a double or a single), bathroom supplies and bedroom décor. If you like, you can "borrow" some of things from home; I won't tell if you won't.
Then there's stationery: folders, notebooks, pencil cases, pens and pencils (if you are like me, you will lose most of them by the end of the first week; might as well have lots of spares) etc. You'll also need to put money aside for textbooks and stuff. Stationery shopping is always fun, like a trip to Diagon Alley!

Tip #4 - Student Services, Clubs and Societies?
Get to Googling to discover all that your university (and your town/city) has to offer as well. Your internet history should be clogged with pages from your uni's website. Would you like to have a part-time job whilst in school? Maybe you'd like to help out with or even start a school paper or radio station? Thinking of starting a club of your own? Can your school's student services help you out?
Clubs and societies are a great way to meet new people. First of all, think about what you're into. Football or chess, for instance. Are there any clubs or societies available for those? Then look for any others that tickle your fancy. It's important to try something long as you think you'll have time for it in the long run. For example, you do not want to splurge on archery classes (random but I've always wanted to try; it was a lifelong dream of mine to be Mrs Legolas Greenleaf if my stint as Xena, the warrior princess didn't work out) only to never go because your course load doesn't permit you very much free time.

Tip #5 - Is Your Wardrobe Autumn/Winter-Ready?
With the start of university comes the chance to revamp your wardrobe! Yes, that's right: more shopping. The most important criterion pour moi is the weather. It's England so of course, coats and boots are absolute necessities. I'm currently on the look-out for a structured Zara trench on eBay as I am in no mood to splurge on a new one for £80 now. However, I am currently on the lookout for my mum's old Burberry coat (still can't believe she's lost it somewhere in this house). If I find it, I will be most overjoyed. If I don't, I'll be back on eBay. I wouldn't advise anyone to buy too many heels though. Comfort and warmth should be your best friends, but let's not forget sophistication. You should be the poster child for independent women (or men, if you are reading this with male genitalia).
Another good thing about going to university: university sweatshirts! I remember those naive days I spent dreaming about owning an MIT sweatshirt. Only to have my father tell me that studying in America isn't even an option. Then it was "bye-bye, SATs; hello, UCAS" [sad face]. I guess a Leeds one will just have to do for now.

Most importantly, guys, have fun and talk to everyone! Remember that most of the people you'll meet will be new too, going through exactly what you're going through. You might as well be that awesome person who manages to break the ice with a really lame joke or those quick quips that immediately put everyone at ease; the one to whom everyone is eternally grateful to at awkward social events...such as your first tutor group meeting (not looking forward to that).

Another way to beat the timidity is to remember that you don't know most of these people and they don't know you and so they will be less inclined to judge you. So go crazy!

But not too crazy.

Be "Drink Aware" and be safe!

PS = I know this is highly unlikely, but if you happen to be coming to Leeds and you see me moping about like a lanky, dazed, lost sheep, do say hi!



  1. Congratulations on Leeds! I have a friend there and it's SO FUN! Don't be depressed, the same happened to me a few years back and it turned out to be the best thing ever! Make the most of it :) xxx

    1. Awww thank you so much! Everyone says Leeds is amazing, so I'm pretty excited now. And I most definitely will, thanks! :D xxx


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