It's September, as you are probably aware, which means that it's the time of year when magazines and ill-informed newspapers begin to release "advice" for university students.
Let me tell you straight away that the people who write those things are idiots. They clearly have no idea about what it is actually like to spend three years avoiding lectures and doing irrevocable damage to your internal organs. I, however, know exactly what all that is like, so I have decided to share some pearls of genuine wisdom.
You are most welcome.
Things To Do When You Are New At University
1. Dilute your personality.
If you have ever been referred to as ‘a right character’ or perhaps as having ‘a strong personality’, do not unleash yourself upon your new flatmates straight away. It’s really best to find out how easily frightened they are first.
With any luck, you'll be able to tell quite quickly who the mental ones are. They are the ones who I suggest making friends with.
2. Pace yourself.
Although this is useful advice on a nightly basis (see point 3) I am actually referring to your social life as a whole. It might be tempting to go on every single night out on offer, but just don’t go mad. That kind of thing is fine in Fresher’s Week, but you’ll burn out sooner or later.
I made the mistake of going in all guns blazing in my first term. The thing is, though, I set a precedent that I was unable to keep up with. About half way through the year, when my alcohol-damaged body was draped over the bowl of a questionable toilet and I was sobbing out a solemn oath to never touch red wine again, I realised that I could no longer go out on every single week night and expect to survive the year.
3. (Somewhat related to above) Know your limits.
As someone who has, in the past, been ‘the one who is always dangerously drunk and needs looking after’ as well as ‘the one who looks after the dangerously drunk one’, I know how important this bit of advice is.
It’s not cute to fall over every time you have to negotiate a footstep, and it’s not endearing to make a fool of yourself every night in new and increasingly annoying ways.
Know your limits. And if you don’t know them, learn them.
4. Plan ahead.
This one is boring, and I’m sorry, but basically you need to sort your finances out BEFORE you’re forced to cry down the phone to your bank manager, begging for an extension on your overdraft.
The first term of the year is undoubtedly the most expensive. There’s more stuff to do, you have books to buy, and you discover food-freedom (see point 5.) Once you’re past all that, though, you have to remember that there are two more terms. You have rent to pay and you need to eat. Don’t be an idiot.
Side note: I was an idiot. I ran out of money at the end of every second term like it was a key part of my religion. The anxiety and sleepless nights that follow are not something I would recommend.
5. Eat The Occasional Vegetable.
There is a thing called Fresher’s Fifteen. This refers to the (average of) fifteen pounds in weight that first year students gain in their first term.
The reason this happens is food-freedom. Most first year students have never done the ‘big shop’ at home. They’ll know the basics – bread, milk, biscuits – but will completely neglect fruit, vegetables and what most people would call ‘ingredients’. Most people, myself included, when allowed to roam free in a supermarket, will spend their entire food budget on things that they like rather than things that will keep them alive.
You, though, will undoubtedly think you are different. You’ve bought a Student Cookbook! Maybe you’ve even bought the Vegetarian Student Cookbook! DO NOT KID YOURSELF. We had nine Student Cookbooks in our kitchen and the only time we ever used them was when we ran out of plates and the curry sauce was dripping from our chips.
I hope I have been of some help.