So, if you’re reading this, you’ve survived freshers week. That serves a massive congratulations. It may have seemed like seven days of non stop raving, served with a small flu on the side, or an eternal echo chamber of people's names and what courses they're studying. Either way, it's no easy feat transitioning into university and fresher's week is quite a step up.
Fending for yourself in this big scary world of lectures, (attempted) student budgeting and too many spontaneous nights out can be tricky to say the least. In this blog, I'll go through some key tips on how to spin the many plates of university life.
First of all, navigating a new environment can be tricky. Whether that’s not knowing your local supermarket to pop down for a last minute pot noodle dinner or the nearby library, there will be plenty of bits and bobs scattered around and time for you to explore. Needless to say, if you have to use public transport you aren't familiar with, it can take some time to adapt. A good idea would be to find people going to the same lectures, tutorials or location as you- making you feel more comfortable during your journey, and (hopefully) reducing the likelihood of getting lost.
Having a handful of lectures, a pinch of tutorials, socials and joining 20 different societies (for the free tote bag, of course) isn’t the easiest thing in the world to manage. To tackle this, I’d suggest making a timetable in whatever way works best for you.
Scheduling online in the outlook or google app can be great because a) it’s easy to switch things around, b) it’s always handy and readily available on a phone or laptop (although, this tragically eliminates the ‘ooh, I’ll just check my calendar and get back to you’ excuse) and c) events you book online can get automatically added which makes things just that little bit easier. For example, if you tick ‘attending’ on a facebook event, it could automatically be added to your calendar (which reminds me, facebook is not just for mum’s, uni societies rely on it like their lifeline so make sure you’ve got an account!).
Speaking of accounts, how’s your bank account doing after freshers? If you grimaced a bit at that, budgeting may be a good idea. This helps you to stay organised (which you already would have aced in that brilliant timetable you’ll be creating) and keep your money on track… it’s a win win! Budgeting doesn’t necessarily have to be the scariest thing in the world.
Put quite simply, all you need to do to start off with is write down the income you’re getting for living costs (this can be from student finance’s maintenance loan, part time jobs or the gracious gifts of saviour parents). Next, add up an estimate of how much money you’ll be spending each month (accomodation fees, food, public transport, textbooks etc…). With the remaining cents, shillings and odd euros you find lying around this budget, calculate how much you’d ideally want to spend on extra things like going out or getting your nails done. Just by doing this and being aware of your money is really important when it comes to adulting later in life. Now the hardest part of all… try to stick to it.
Have fun fellow freshers, and use your freedom wisely!
Anisha Minocha is studying English and Philosophy at the University of St Andrews. She is a passionate writer and poet whose work has been published in anthologies, magazines, blogs and won competitions. Contributing to Sink Magazine, she is keen to utilize the voice of young people and share work through her creative writing blog. As a climate activist, she has combined her love for words and the planet in a performance of spoken word at the Royal Exchange Theatre in 'Letters to the Earth'. She also co-runs Young Friends of the Earth: Manchester and has organised workshops, participated in panels and spoken at Manchester Cathedral.
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