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First Year Student Survival Guide


Sarah Marsh - February 23, 2021

First Year Student Survival Guide

Exciting and daunting in equal measure, your first year at university is like no other. Make sure you’re prepared with our essential survival guide.

Moving away from home to start university means your lifestyle changes overnight. You’re suddenly in a position where you’re dealing with new people and responsibilities all at once. While it’s an exciting time, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed at times.

From protecting your belongings to managing your student loan, we’ve put together a complete guide to help you boss your first year at university.

Making your studio a home

Along with all the staples like duvets and cutlery, there are many extras you can bring to help your new living arrangement feel more comfortable. Here’s our checklist of first year university extras:

  • A mattress topper: mattresses in student halls aren’t renown for comfort, so a decent mattress topper can help you enjoy a better night’s sleep
  • Cushions and blankets
  • Fairy lights: the perfect way to add a homely feel to your new digs. Universities usually request you bring battery-powered lights to avoid any electrical problems.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones: if you’re trying to get 8 hours kip, it can be tricky in loud student halls. Noise-cancelling headphones will help you sleep through the night.
  • Extension leads and sockets: this will help you use your laptop or hairdryer wherever suits you
  • Storage solutions: to avoid clutter filling up your room, storage compartments are ideal. By cleverly organising your study supplies and clothes, you can make the most out of your space.

Our range of private student apartments are designed to be comfortable and calm. If you’d rather avoid the halls, take a look at our range of private studio accommodation for first year students instead.

Protecting your belongings

Losing your belongings during freshers week is like a rite of passage. On top of that, theft can be a problem for many students. To help you hold onto your possessions, follow our top tips:

Have a go-to spot for keys

Plenty of students lose their set of keys during their first year of university. To help you hold onto yours, it’s worth buying a bold keyring to attach them to.

Using a small key hook will also mean you have a go-to place to store them whenever you’re not carrying them. If you make it a habit to hang the keys on the hook every time you return to your room, you should avoid losing track of them. Failing that, use a designated jar or box for your keys.

Invest in a bike lock

If you’ve bought your bike to Uni, it’s important to invest in a sturdy D-lock or something similar. Bike thieves can cut through chains, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Use tracking software

For electronics like your laptop or phone, tracking software can help you retrieve stolen items. Doing this means your gadgets can be more easily recovered by the police.

Back up your work

At university, your hard work is one of your most valuable assets. Should the worst happen and your laptop is gone for good, make sure your work is regularly backed up. Using cloud software or online backup will save you the effort of doing this manually.

To protect you and your belongings, our private student studio offer safe bicycle storage, CCTV, and car parking.

Money and budgeting

During your first year of university, you’ll need to get to grips with managing your own finances on a regular basis. While it’s a different learning curve for every student, following our helpful tips can help you stay on track.

Don’t rely on your overdraft

A student overdraft can be a handy safety net. Often interest-free until after you graduate, an overdraft can help you cover emergency or unplanned costs. However, if you start to treat the overdraft limit as your own money, you could be making overdraft repayments long after you graduate.

To save you from becoming reliant on it, try not to extend your overdraft limit any more than what’s essential. Your bank might offer to increase your limit, but saying no to this will help you live within your means.

Use a Direct Debit for any bills

Between studying and meeting new friends, you might also have to remember to pay utility bills. Forgetting to pay your bills can damage your credit score, so it’s worth setting up a Direct Debit to automatically cover the monthly costs.

Split your money into pots

As a student, it’s incredibly easy to overspend on things like socialising or eating out. To save you from blowing your book budget on beers, splitting your available money into different spending ‘pots’ could help.

Having allocated amounts for things like socialising or clothes each month can help you from spending beyond your means. Apps like Plum or Monzo are great tools to physically divide your money into separate places – so you won’t accidentally dip into your food budget on a night out.

Pay yourself regularly

When your student loan lands in your account, it can be tempting to dash round the shops and get spending. Instead, it could be worth keeping your student loan in one bank account – and opening a separate account to spend with. You can then send over your monthly budget each month.

By paying yourself every month, you’ll be able to spread your student loan evenly throughout your first year. Handy hint: try setting up a monthly Standing Order to your other ‘spending’ account.

Consider a part time job

Student loan not enough to cover everything? Taking on a part-time job during your first year at university can be a great way to raise extra cash and meet new friends.

Meeting new people at university

One of the highlights of your first year at university is meeting new people. While everyone is different, our tips could help you have the confidence to make friends during your first year of university.

Leave your comfort zone

When you first start university, you have the chance to start a new hobby or interest. Trying your hand at something totally new with a group of strangers may be out of your comfort zone – but it’s a great way to quickly make new friends.

Don’t be someone you’re not

During the first few months at university, it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be everyone’s friend. You can’t please everyone, though. Trying to fit in with people you don’t get along with can be draining. If you’re not having a great time with everyone you meet, it’s absolutely fine to cut your losses and move on.

Attend clubs that suit your interests

If you’re a movie buff, you’ll have plenty to talk about at a film society. Whatever you’re into, see if there’s a society where you’ll meet people with similar interests.

Looking after yourself

Without taking steps to look after your mental and physical health, your first year of university can sometimes be tough. Make sure you’re looking after yourself with these self-care tips:

Speak to your family

Scheduling regular phone chats or video calls can help put a spring in your step – especially if you’re dealing with a bout of homesickness during your first few weeks of university.

Improve your sleep habits

After freshers week, you’ll need to attend lectures with a focused mind. To help you stick to a good sleeping pattern, try:

  • Putting screens away an hour before bedtime
  • No caffeinated drinks after lunch
  • Listening to calming podcasts or music
  • Using noise-cancelling headphones
  • Use university resources

If you’re not feeling yourself, your university will have plenty of support and tools to help you. Whether you’d benefit from counselling, career guidance, or just someone to listen to you, there’ll be plenty of help available.

Find fast and healthy recipes

Having a selection of go-to recipes with healthy ingredients is key to managing your diet at university. Check out these 5-minute recipes or use a cookbook like Jamie Oliver’s ‘5 Ingredients’ for inspiration.

Tidy space, tidy mind

It might be a cliché, but living in a clean space can significantly boost your well-being. While it can be hard to keep up with shared spaces, you can make your own room a haven.

Hate the idea of untidy halls? Our private studios mean you won’t need to worry about messy shared kitchens or bathrooms.

Make time for you

It’s easy to get swept away by the all the fun student life offers. Try and regularly enjoy some time out to relax and recharge. Whether you enjoy painting or going out for a run, some solo time gives you space to breathe.

Studying tips at university

Juggling your social life with your studies is by no means simple. With our tips, you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

Stick to a schedule

As important as your studies are, it’s equally important to know when to switch off. If you procrastinate and leave it till later, your sleeping schedule could end up in tatters. Equally, if you don’t know when to stop, a poor study-life balance can harm your well-being.

Choosing a regular study slot each day can help you switch off and plan your life around your studies.

Ask for support

Your university won’t plan work that can’t be done during the day – so you shouldn’t be working till the early hours or having your weekend totally swallowed up.

If you’re finding it tricky to manage the workload, reach out for some help. Your tutors or university counsellors can offer valuable advice to help you organise your time.

Lock your phone away

The more time you spend being distracted by memes, the longer you’ll be sat studying. To save yourself from wasting time, it can help to physically move your phone (or any other distractions) into a box or out of sight.

Get a study partner

Working in a pair or group can really boost your motivation. Not only can you bounce off one another and share ideas, but working together can help you stick to a schedule.

Nights out at university

During your first year of university, you’ll experience nightlife on a different level. The most important part of any night out is staying safe – here’s how:

Never walk home alone

Feel like heading home earlier than your friends? You should never walk back alone. If you can’t wait for your mates to wrap up, use a licensed taxi firm to take you home.

Drink lots of water

It’s an age-old tip, but it works. If you’re drinking lots of alcohol, try alternating each drink with a quick glass of water. It works wonders for your head the following day.

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