I still remember as if it were yesterday. I was young; I was smart, I was dumb, audacious and annoying.
Oh University, thank you for three incredible years of lame jokes, award-winning fancy-dress parties, and sleepovers at the library.
They say it’s the best years of your life; it was for me.
By the way, if you’ve already decided that university isn’t for you, fly over to my backpacking story. My ‘career’ blog post is currently climbing the corporate ladder (my blog feed) and is due to a promotion.
It’s been a few good years since I graduated. For those of you who have just finished college, there are a few words of advice that I wish I had been given when I left home to become a ‘real, live, fully-functioning adult’. Hey, it’s okay if you haven’t reached the stage in your life, where you can find your socks.
I know, I know. You’re fresh outta’ college, and you’re a tiny bit nervous. I’ve been there. Don’t worry young Fresher. Everyone is as lost as you are. Fortunately, Uni’ has sneaky ways of bringing everyone together. You’ll naturally befriend your fellow peers in halls, seminars, lectures, coffee shops and societies. Oh and ladies, you know when you’re drunk, and everyone becomes your best mate? The student union toilets are the official networking zone*. I saw friendships blossom from a simple “I love your bag, where’s it from?”, Or (and here’s my lame attempt to guy-speak) ‘Nice watch mate’ — you get the gist. Photos are an excellent excuse to add people on Facebook, without being weird about it. Strike up a conversation by asking for directions to your lectures. The best friendships start in the strangest places. You will meet your lifelong friends at University.
*Disclaimer: the student union toilets may not be an official networking zone. You may just be very drunk.
At the Fresher’s Fair, scribble your name down on every club that interests you. Okay fine, I initially did it for the freebies. Alongside the free stuff, you may end up picking up: life-long skills, friends, and wonderful experiences. I fell in love with cheerleading (don’t laugh — it involved extreme body flexibility), and it became one of my biggest passions.
There is only really one thing I wish I did more of, and that’s some digging. I will pass on a little pearl for you: delve deep into your career prospects in advance. Find out what qualifications and experience you need to get your desired job — before the other grads get there before you do.
Unless you’re rinsing the bank of mum and dad (most of us aren’t), a part-time job is handy. For flexible working, your student union is a good starting point. Employers will be impressed with what you did with yourself alongside your studies. During the summer period, go and bag that scheme/internship, you’ll thank your grown-up self later.
Every time my loan appeared in my bank account, I would scream ‘f**k yeah!’. I was terrible at money management. I firmly believe that at school: we should have been taught about credit ratings, interest rates, bank accounts, mortgages, insurance, and why you should start saving like £100 per week, because by the time you’re 50 you’ll be a quadruple-gazillionaire. That’s a rant for another day. It’s a skill you will learn and value after you graduate. I don’t want to sound like your mother but always set aside some dosh for the future.
The not-so-serious survival guide (debatable)
1. Do not attempt to bring your whole room with you.
I brought absolute useless crap with me to my halls. It took five trips from the car to my new room. Not only were my new flatmates seriously confused, but my dad (bless him) also had to carry my stuff with a lorry cart! You do not need, I repeat, you do not need five pairs of PJ’s and fifteen pairs of shoes. Pack wisely young’uns. Pack carefully.
2. Wash. Please.
It’s not sexy to let your personal hygiene go in the bin (I’ve Wheelie bin trying not to think up some rubbish puns, sorry). Aside from the obvious health implications, smelling like you’ve not had a shower for a few days is not a great icebreaker.
3. Don’t get with your flatmate unless you’re planning on marrying them. (And for the nosey posey, this isn’t from personal experience, I’m observant / watched the tears roll in).
I don’t care if he has a big room (wink), six-pack and looks like a Model. Guys, I don’t care if she looks like Mila Kunis. If it doesn’t work out? Awkward. You have to live with them for the rest of the year. Mega lolz.
4. Freshers love rumours.
If you do something silly, expect it to spread like wildfire. You might even get a new nickname.
5. Make use of the time you share with your flatmates.
You will remember the fun times more than when you stayed alone in your room (obviously, organise your time to revise). I was lucky. In my flat, we all got on well like a house on fire (literally, we set the microwave on fire). We played pranks, cooked, watched films, went for meals and played silly games together. Don’t worry if you don’t get on with your flatmates; another flat will eventually adopt you.
You will be homesick in your first few weeks; there will be tears when your parents drop off their ickle pickle munchkin to grown-up school. Awww, I feel for you, I really do. There will be tears after that. Don’t worry, I promise you, it gets better.
Pop your photos of your family and friends on the wall. Open up your boxes and lay out your duvet. Once you’ve unpacked your life in your new room, go and introduce yourself to your new mates.
Plan a trip to Ikea with your new mates, avoid the temptation to play Narnia in the wardrobes, gobble up some meatballs and buy: extension lead, laundry basket, kitchen equipment and stationery.
When you’re skint, resist the temptation to wander into town, search for bargains on eBay and buy your books from Amazon. Where else can you shop naked and it is appropriate?
My favourite places that offer student discount are ASOS, Topshop, Waterstones, New Look, Currys, Apple, HP, Spotify and McDonalds (free cheeseburger with every main meal, you’re welcome buddy). P.S I do not endorse McDonalds, but it hits the scrimp spot for your student cravings.
My flatmates got sick a lot (a few of us were in sports societies which had insane socials). Mummy Wong recommends lemon, ginger & honey in hot water. It works.
There will be times when you’re revising, and your inner crazy will come out to play. Don’t stress too much, work to the best of your ability and everything will eventually work out.
Time flies faster than you will ever imagine.
University has a way of slowly shifting your identity, like sea sand getting pushed around by the ocean, slowly accumulating into new contours to form the person you’re supposed to be.
Have a wonderful time and take lots of pictures. You’ll be entering the most life-changing chapters of your life.
Location: University of The Wong Blog
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