So, youâ€™ve managed to land yourself a place at a university away from home – well done! As exciting as it may feel now, you may soon be faced with the daunting realisation that before long, youâ€™ll be living on your own for the first time.
Moving away from home for the first time is a significant change, and you may come across obstacles you wonâ€™t have accounted for. A report from Higher Education Funding Council for England found that there has been a rapid rise in the number of students requesting to see councillors in 2015, and mental health problems have â€œincreased dramatically.â€
If, in the first few months of uni, you find yourself questioning your choice, missing home comforts or feeling a bit lost, you wonâ€™t be alone. Follow our tips to make sure your first few weeks away from home run as smoothly as possible.
Donâ€™t compromise on your living arrangements
Choosing where youâ€™re going to live during your first year of university is one of the most important decisions youâ€™ll make. It requires considerable research, as being unsettled in your surroundings can make you feel really uncomfortable.
When making your decision, you need to consider:
- Where your accommodation is based – Is your accommodation close to local transport links, shops, and other amenities?
- Whatâ€™s included in your rent – You need to make sure you are aware of the bill situation before you move in, so there are no nasty surprises. Some include all bills in the rent and others require you to pay everything separately.
- What the accommodation looks like – Make sure you visit any potential accommodation sites and check out what they look like in real life. Inspect the appliances, fittings, bathrooms and beds to double check everything is up to an acceptable standard. Try to talk to the current residents as they will usually be honest about the property/area.
If you do your research and choose the right kind of accommodation, youâ€™ll feel much more settled during your first few weeks. Knowing that you have a place of your own can be really exciting; especially if itâ€™s a place you know youâ€™re going to love.
Donâ€™t run home
The temptation to visit home each weekend can be massive at the beginning. If youâ€™re feeling a bit lonely and missing your mumâ€™s roast dinners, donâ€™t run home too quickly. Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with seeking family support when you need it, but the start of university is the best time to make friends, and by visiting home too often, you might miss out on some great opportunities.
As well as this, itâ€™s important to try and tackle your problems on your own before turning home. Until you try to survive without support, you wonâ€™t really know what you are capable of, and how strong you can be. University is a great place to learn and grow, and one of the most important skills you can learn is independence.
Look after your health
This may be the first time you are faced with feeding yourself, and itâ€™s so easy to get take-out or pop in a microwave meal every night. Eating right wonâ€™t only help you maintain your weight and avoid certain health problems, but will have a profound effect on your mood and wellbeing.
Cooking at home with fresh fruits and vegetables is the best way to look after your health. Even though it may seem more expensive at first, if you batch cook things like chilli and bolognese in large quantities, you’ll be able to feed yourself for most of the week. With the rise in popularity of discount supermarkets like Aldi selling fresh food cheap, there is no excuse!
To ensure you stay healthy, make sure you are drinking enough water. This may sound obvious, but with lots of nights out, long hours in the library and a diet youâ€™re not used to, you need to ensure you donâ€™t get dehydrated. Make the effort to keep a bottle of water with you at all times and drink water or cordial with each meal. Youâ€™ll thank us the morning after a night out!
You might end up in a situation where you and your roommates donâ€™t gel immediately – this is no problem, and is actually pretty common. There are plenty of other opportunities to meet like-minded people at university – in fact, itâ€™s one of the best places for it.
Attend your local freshersâ€™ fair, where there will be the opportunity to get loads of free gifts and discounts, and discover the different types of clubs and societies open to you. Youâ€™ll find all kinds of interests are catered for: from writing groups to sci-fi clubs.
Remember, youâ€™re not alone – there is support available
Everyone youâ€™ve ever spoken to about it will probably have told you university is the best time of your life, however, it can be a big shock to realise youâ€™re not happy all of the time. You have to remember, even though it may seem like everyone is having the time of their lives, there will be ups and downs.
If you really feel like things are getting on top of you, there are always people you can talk to. From student reps to course tutors, your university will have measures in place to help you when you feel out of place, and make sure you are getting the most out of your university experience.
The realities of moving away from home can be a big shock, but if you look after your health, make the effort to meet like-minded people and remember that help is always available to you, youâ€™ll soon be settled and enjoying university life.
Rosa Mitchell is a writer for Pure Student Living, who provide luxurious student accommodation for students across London.