Ten things to make your move to uni easier
The big day is almost here. You’re just counting down the last few weeks and days until you leave. Are you excited? Anxious? Plain scared? Completely unprepared?
1. Make a To Pack listThe idea of packing your life into a boxes isn’t very appealing and you’ll probably find any excuse to put off getting started. Rather than pick one day to pack everything, start to do things gradually.
That way, you'll have more time to remember those odd items which you might not think of at first.
2. Learn how to do laundryIf you're not already fully versed with the workings of a washing machine, you should be. You can't (no, really, you shouldn't) wait until your first weekend visit home to bring a black bag full of washing for someone else to work through. Nor do you want to shrink your favourite pair of jeans the same week homesickness kicks in, causing a complete meltdown.
While you’re still at home and have parents and siblings around to consult, familiarise yourself with what the different symbols on clothing labels mean, what different detergents actually do and what all those washing machine settings are actually for.
3. Master a few easy mealsPasta with pesto will get boring four nights in a row. A few simple meal ideas will keep you well nourished, save you some money and even impress your housemates!
If you're a newbie in the kitchen, start with simple recipes like baked potato or pasta bake. If you're an absolute beginner, it's time to get to grips with the basics of opening a tin or chopping an onion.
If you're not a complete amateur, try twists on the old favourites to keep things interesting and re-use leftovers (there are loads of student cooking blogs out there for easy and cheap meal ideas).
4. Work out your budgetBefore you start splashing the cash on tickets for freshers' week events and getting into bad habits, draw up a budget for your first term at university (or even better, for your first year). It doesn't have to be exact, but try and calculate how much you have to spend on food, entertainment and other things per week once you've deducted rent, travel, course costs and other essential expenses.
This way, you're less likely to need to call mum and dad for an emergency bank transfer in the middle of term...
5. Follow your uni on social mediaYou should follow any social media channels connected to your university so you start to feel part of the community – after all you’ll be a part of it soon enough! It's a good way to get the latest updates and news about what’s going on around campus and during freshers' week.
As well the university’s main page, look up your housing office, students' union or a particular society.
6. Set up your bank accountGet your bank account sorted before you leave for university, while you've still got the headspace to spend time comparing offers and finding the right account for you. That'll also mean you can chat through your options with your parents rather than making the decision alone.
- Must-read: Six student banking tips
7. Learn about your new areaIf you’re feeling nervous about moving to a new place, try to look at the positives. You’ve probably already read up a bit about the local area of your university when choosing where to study. But now you can find out a bit more such as specific hot spots and gems which only the locals know, as well as annual events to circle in your calendar. Use our city guides to explore your new home, including average rents, student comments, transport costs and more.
If you have a particular interest, see whether there is a local group who share this or a particular place you should check out. For example, if you’re a Dungeons & Dragons nut, is there a games shop hidden away in the town? Or a local group who regularly meet up to play?
8. Complete any essential readingHit the ground running when it comes to your course. If you’ve been told to complete any reading before you arrive, there’s a reason why! Your success at university will be determined by how well you can work independently and motivate yourself – so get into the habit of taking what direction you are given and running with the ball. Slack off now and you’ll find it harder to make up ground later.
- Must-read: Five study habits to begin right now
9. Update your CVMany students work a part-time job while studying to fund their studies. Once freshers' week has come and gone, you’ll realise just how quickly money can disappear - take a look at our guide to start-of-term expenses so you can plan ahead.
It's a few weeks into term when lots of students start looking for employment. Get ahead of the competition (especially if you’re studying in a smaller city or town) by writing your CV and confirming your references before you leave.
- Must-read: Having a part-time job - what students say
10. Health and medical suppliesDo you have a medical condition which you manage yourself through medication (e.g. asthma, diabetes, epilepsy etc.)? Make sure you have a large enough supply to tide you over until you can either register at a local GP at university or go home to visit. You might feel more comfortable speaking to your local doctor if they've treated you for a while and know your history.
Also, arrange any dentist, optician or doctor’s appointments now to save you travelling home unnecessarily during term-time.
What else should you be doing to prepare for university? What can you expect from student life?