My University Experience: Part One

This is a post that has been long overdue, so I thought it was about time that I got it done! I have recently finished my time at university and I am very happy and proud to have graduated with a First Class Degree! I never thought that I would be able to do it, but after a lot of hard work and long nights, I finally did it!

University is hard. If you want to achieve the best grades you need to put the work in, there’s no getting around it. However, it is the most rewarding and exciting experience you will have. In this post I will go through all the different experiences I had from first to third year: from moving in, all the way to graduating (which I will discuss in part two of this post!)

Moving in day: new city and new friends

This was a very exciting day. I remember it so clearly like it was yesterday. Everything was packed and ready to be put into the car – of course, a lot of stuff had already been packed into the car the night before in order to make things easier. My new life was ready to begin. So many exciting times ahead of me, and so many amazing people I had yet to meet. I was ready to live alone and enjoy life as a young and independent nineteen year old (I had a gap year before university).

When I arrived to my new city and accomodation, I was filled with mixed emotions. I was nervous of course, but it was the most exciting thing I had experienced – you may be thinking, really? But the fact that I was now able to live on my own, free to do whatever I wanted, living in a building with new people and going on nights out – of course this was going to be exciting.

My mum and dad helped me move all of my things into my room after checking in, and I started to unpack. Yes, it was very strange knowing that I would be left there alone in this new city and new home, but I couldn’t help but feel positive about it all. Once my parents left, I began to introduce myself to my new flat mates.

The first day was the first official day of Freshers week – I didn’t go out this night, as I wanted to unpack my room and settle in first (also, no one I knew was going out either). I also used this day to explore the area and find the nearest supermarkets – I did a shop before I moved in, but I needed to buy myself food for the fridge. It was my first official day living on my own. Luckily, tea time wasn’t so difficult, as I wasn’t too bad when it came to cooking.

I remember finding it hard to sleep on the first night, because I was more aware of the fact that I was alone. The first night is probably the most difficult, because although you are excited, you don’t fully know anyone yet. So, it can get lonely.

Fresher’s week

I went out on the second day of Fresher’s week, and then proceeded to go out every night for 10 nights. It was the best time ever. I did have a new part time job lined up, but it didn’t start until the end of Fresher’s. This week was also filled with induction days for my classes, and before you say anything, I did attend them! Some people don’t, but I really wanted to make sure that I knew what I was doing in preparation for when my classes actually started.

The whole first month was amazing, I enjoyed every minute. I loved living alone and cooking my own meals. I loved being at university and learning new things. Meeting new people and living a completely different way to what I was used to. If you’re considering going to University, then definitely do it. If you are unsure of what to study, take a year out to really think about what you want to do. Of course, university isn’t for everyone, but if you are thinking of going but are too scared, just go for it! You will be amazed at how much you will learn about yourself and living away from home.

I will be doing a second part to this post which will be all about my first year of classes and my second and final year. I hope you enjoyed this post!

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The Big University Checklist

Hello everyone! I have decided to do a university series of blog posts for anyone out there interested in university blogs! The first thing to think about when going to university is what to bring. When I started university, I loved reading blogs and watching YouTube videos about what to take to university. Therefore, I have created my own list of things that I think are important when packing for university. This is very long post but I hope you all enjoy! PS. I wish I was attending university again, it was the best time ever!

1. Stationery and Documents

  • Make sure that you have any documents needed for university and your accommodation – check with your university and accommodation to see what you will need to bring. TIP: Keep any important documents in a file so that they are easily available and safe – keep this in a secure place in your room where no one can find it.
  • ID – you will definitely need this for nights out and to identify yourself at enrollment.
  • Student finance letters and summary of payments to provide evidence when needed.
  • Freshers week tickets – if you want to attend any events.
  • Bank letters and documents just in case.
  • Insurance for your valuables and documents to provide evidence of this.
  • 16-25 Railcard and NUS discount card – these are handy and save you loads of money while at university. I had both of these and they were a lifesaver. Travelling home or to other places can be costly, so railcards can help to cut the costs. You do have to pay for these, but in all honesty, you do make the money back from what you pay from the savings you will get. Of course, if your university student card has an expiry date, many places will accept this as a way to receive student discount. For places that do not accept student ID, Unidays is a free app/website that you can join using your student email to receive discounts from a variety of places.
  • Set up an arranged overdraft so that you don’t get charged in case you need a little extra cash when student loans and a job just doesn’t cut it.
  • Notebooks for lectures – find yourself some lined notebooks for lectures. It may be best to buy these once you have started your classes just so that you know how many you will need. Although do take one or two beforehand for induction lectures. Notebooks that contain dividers are very useful so that you can have all of your lecture notes organised into one book.
  • Pens, pencils, rubber, sharpener, highlighters, and coloured pens.
  • Pencil case and bag to bring to lectures.
  • USB – get one that has 64GB storage so that you don’t have to worry about deleting anything. This is more than enough if you will be just using it to save word documents, but it is always handy to have extra space for photos or other files.
  • Folders/Files – use these to organise your lecture notes if you prefer. I used plastic wallets to bring to each lecture, because I found them easier to carry around.
  • Books for university – you may have a reading list of books to buy for different modules – look for these on Amazon or eBay for cheap deals. Some of these may be available in your university library, but there will be limited copies. Also, some texts may be available from your university as a PDF file for you to read.

2. Kitchen Supplies

One of the most important items you will need to bring with you to university are your kitchen supplies. This refers to anything you will need to make and eat your own food.

  • Choose plates, bowls and cutlery that have a pattern or colour on them to prevent you from having your things mixed up with other people’s in your flat or house. Also, make sure that you don’t spend too much on these – things can break at university! I managed to go a whole three years at university without anything breaking, but anything can happen when you’re having pre-drinks during Freshers week.
  • Talking about pre-drinks, it is a better idea to buy yourself some plastic cups, rather than glasses. There are many places out there that sell stylish plastic cups at great prices – have a look at Primark, as they usually sell these in their homewear department.

You will need to cook at university at some point, takeaways and ready meals can be more expensive! Luckily, I enjoyed cooking at university, but I know that not everyone does. Make cooking easier for you by getting yourself the basics –

  • A non-stick frying pan and saucepan – these are essential for cooking any meal. Also get yourself a some cooking utensils for stirring sauces and cooking meat or vegetables, as well as a sieve for draining pasta.
  • Oven dish and baking tray – these are also essential for cooking things like frozen food, pasta bakes, casseroles and beloved pizzas! If you love pizza then it may be worth getting yourself a pizza cutter and pizza tray.
  • Tupperware and bag clips to reseal things like cereal and pasta. Tupperware is essential if you want to save yourself some money by preparing your meals ahead of time. I always used to try and make my own lunch to save money and plastic throwaway packaging.
  • A tray for eating your meals on – I found this very useful when I was at university because sometimes there are not enough chairs in the kitchen to eat your food at the table. Trays are also useful to carry your food or drinks when you want to be in your room instead.
  • Ice cube tray and plastic shot glasses – these will definitely come in handy for Freshers week as well as the rest of your time at university and your new friends will love you when you’re the one who remembered to bring them!
  • Water bottle and flask for hot drinks – this will be very useful to bring to lectures, and will also avoid any unnecessary waste!
  • Packed lunch bag – get one of these with some coolers so that you can bring lunch to the library, to work, or to uni if you are in all day.
  • Obviously you will need food, but it may be best to buy this once you have moved in. But bring some essentials such as pasta, sugar, tea bags, coffee, microwave rice, biscuits, snacks, tinned soup and tuna etc. Any food that needs to be stored in the fridge or freezer should be bought once you have moved in. I am thinking of doing a post on university meal ideas – let me know in the comments if this interests you!

3. Bedroom

You will need many things for your bedroom. Some of these things are essential and some are optional!

  • Duvet and pillows – essential for sleep!
  • Mattress topper and waterproof mattress protector – these are a must have as some university accommodation can have uncomfortable mattresses! The waterproof mattress protector will come in handy when you accidentally spill a drink over your bed – you don’t want to be charged for any spillages!
  • Duvet covers – I recommend taking at least two covers for your bed so that you can have one in the wash while you have one on the bed. Also, like the duvet itself, make sure to check with your accommodation provided to see what size bed you will have before you buy the wrong size bedding!
  • Throws and decorative pillows – your room may get cold during the winter months, so make your room feel cosy and warm by bringing a large warm blanket or throw for your bed. The decorative pillow will make your bed look extra pretty.
  • Hangers – try and get some wire hangers or thin hangers to maximize space in your wardrobe. It may also be worth it to get some storage boxes for clothes or extra storage once you have moved into your room so that you know what size boxes you will need.
  • Fairy lights and decorations – these will help you to feel cosy in your new home. You can wrap the fairy lights around your bed post, or hang them up using pins on your notice board – usually university rooms have these already installed.
  • Rug – you might want to bring a nice rug for your floor as most university rooms have thin carpet that can feel horrible on your feet. If not, get yourself some comfy slippers so that you can walk around your flat or house without having to walk on the horrible floors – trust me, you will thank me when you realise that the kitchen floor is not always the cleanest place at uni.
  • Table mirror – this is essential for doing your makeup if your room doesn’t have one close to your desk. You can never have too many mirrors!
  • Desk lamp – this will be very useful for when you want to relax in your room at night without having the main light on.
  • Extra storage drawers – you can get metal or plastic drawers that are easy to carry if you think you might need extra storage. In my experience, university halls tend to have a lot of built in storage, but if you are unsure, it may be best to wait until you have moved in to decide what extra storage you may need.
  • Shoe storage rack – again, this may be better to get once you know what storage your room has and how much space you have. This will be very useful for you if you don’t have any room for your beloved shoes. You can also buy a storage device that hangs up in your wardrobe for your shoes, but this may mean compromising on space for hanging clothes.
  • Clothes rack – try and get yourself a compact sized clothes rack so that it doesn’t take up a lot of space in your room. You will need one of these in case your accommodation doesn’t have any dryers – but also because dryers can ruin clothes and make denim shrink – not ideal! All you have to do is fold it away when not in use.

4. Bathroom

If you have your own bathroom, then lucky you! You can enjoy having a shower in peace and do not have to worry about others making the bathroom a mess.

  • Bath mat – if your shower is enclosed, then get yourself a bath mat for the floor so that you can keep your feet dry when walking around your bathroom.
  • If your bathroom is a wet room, and your shower is not enclosed, then still get a bath mat – but place it outside of your bathroom door so that it doesn’t get drenched each time you have a shower.
  • Hand soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, shower gel and other toiletries that you use.
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Cleaning products – get yourself some bathroom cleaner and toilet bleach for cleaning to avoid mould and to keep your shower and bathroom clean.
  • Bath towels and hand towels – get yourself two bath towels so that you can cycle them and never be without one. You can also find yourself a towel holder that has a suction cup on it to stick to your bathroom wall. Some bathroom doors at university also have hooks on the back if you can’t find one.
  • Storage caddy for toiletries and storage for your cleaning products.
  • Flip flops – if you have to share a bathroom, then you may want to take flip flops to keep your feet hygienic.
  • Bin and bin liners – this will be very handy for your room so that you don’t have to take rubbish to the kitchen bin.

5. Technology

  • You will definitely need a good laptop with Microsoft Office installed onto it – have a look online to see if you can get a free version from your university – this is what I did! You may find that during deadline times, computers at your university will be hard to get hold of, so it is best to have your own in case.
  • Printer – this is optional but will be useful especially if you are doing an art subject or something that requires you to print off a lot of material. However, the printers at your university may be better and I found that I did not need my own.
  • Speaker – your new friends will thank you when they discover that you have a speaker ready for pre-drinking music. You can obviously also use this for your own use in your room.
  • TV – if you are allowed to bring a TV, make sure that your accommodation includes a TV license in your room as well as the communal areas. If not you may need to get a TV license depending on how you are using your TV – check online first!
  • Now TV/Amazon/Netflix subscription – this is a must have for those nights when you want to chill watching TV. Sometimes uni can be lonely and having access to movies and TV shows can really help you when you feel homesick.

6. Extras

  • You will obviously need to bring clothes, makeup, toiletries etc etc. However, a checklist for this kind of stuff will be posted in a separate post (follow and subscribe via email to this blog for updates!). Here is a list of any extra items you may need to bring or buy for your time at university:
  • Medical supplies – you may need things like plasters, antiseptic cream, cold and flu remedies, and paracetamol just so that you are prepared while you settle into your new city and home. You will thank yourself when you are hungover in your room on many occasions – and don’t forget the dreaded fresher’s flu – yes, it’s a thing.
  • Coffee maker – OK, this may seem a little lavish, but if you’re a huge fan of coffee and have some money saved then, why not? Try and get yourself a small one that can be taken into your room. Late nights doing assignments in your room + coffee maker = PERFECT.
  • Home comforts – try and bring something or a few things that will remind you of home. This could be anything from photos to decorations from your bedroom at home. The most important thing is that you make your room at uni feel like home.

There will be a variety of things missed from this list, but I will add more when I think of them. If you have any more suggestions for people who are going to university this year or in the future, please post in the comments below! I hope you all enjoyed this post – I will be doing another post on wardrobe essentials to bring to university, so stay updated by subscribing to my blog via email.