Forgive the cliché.
I know you’ve probably seen a million of these things dotted about the internet which compiles the thoughts and laughter of those who are living that particular experience. They’re terribly overused and they clog up my Facebook news feed – I do find them annoying.
The only difference with this piece is that I’m actually going to be practical with this one and actually dish out some useful advice on university living. This hopefully will make a change from the usual drab lists on heavy drinking and partying. In theory, this’ll provide some comedy and actually be useful to you at the same time…?
So, without further ado…
You know you’re at university when…:
…getting in at 4am from a party is considered normal and there are no parents around to complain
OK, so this opener sounds a bit party-like. However, there are a few important things to remember when you’re out late. Your university and local police force will often hand out some handy tips and advice on keeping safe at night, so I’ve compiled my favourite ones:
- Stick to your limits and only drink what you can actually deal with. Golden rule: if you can’t remember the walk home, you drank too much.
- Always keep your drinks in sight and be very careful about being offered drinks from complete strangers – there have been experiences at my university of girls having drinks spiked. That said, lads ought to be careful too – being male doesn’t exclude you from being caught up in it.
- Stick to well-lit main roads, even if they take longer to use. Saving the odd few minutes getting home quicker by using a badly-lit back alley isn’t recommended, no matter how often you use it during the day.
- Only use licensed taxi companies – going in groups is always better. Your Student Union will probably have a decent list of those companies in the town who are good at helping out students. Cheaper doesn’t always mean better. If you’re going home late at night, consider going with your friends to make sure you aren’t on your own.
If you’re in doubt, check the ID that the driver will have.
- Don’t accept lifts from random people that you don’t know. It’s just not worth the risk, even if they seem genuine.
…you constantly feel like you’ve got no money
I’ve written a lot about university life in the past – my experiences have taught me a lot about preparing for the ‘real world’ out there once I leave but in general one of the most popular topics I get asked about is finances and the like. I wrote a piece about student budgeting last year and what I believe is the best way to go about it. With all the bright lights of nightclubs and wanting to go out and meet people, it’s perhaps a little tempting to just ‘enjoy life’ so to speak. I mean, that’s what the interest-free overdraft on a student account is for, right?
Erm…. Only kind of. Remember that you’ll have rent to pay and, whilst the university gets your fees from the Student Loans Company, you might need other things relating to your course, so it’s a good idea to consider everything. Here’s some of the things I would recommend:
- Your main priority should be paying for the essentials such as rent and bills and getting your academic purchases sorted first – your food can go in the essential category too. However, whilst it’s nice to get out and party, spending all your money on partying first might land you in some troubles towards the end of each term.
- Getting food sorted might seem like a bit of a chore, but it’s worth the effort to find the best mix of quality and price – I, for instance, get my meat and veg from a local farmer’s market because it’s actually cheaper than heading off to Tesco each week. You’ll be amazed what you learn about your local town or city.
- Remember that living expenses vary from place to place so it’s best to look in your local area a lot more, especially if you reside in a big city like London – some places will be more accessible than others.
…you do less hours than in school but it’s more stressful!
For those of you who started in 2012 or later, you’ll find the normal might be somewhere around 13 hours a week… doesn’t sound a lot for a five-day week, does it?
The reality is that, even at A Level you’re spoon-fed subject material to a certain degree. You’re in classes multiple hours a day and it’s all highly structured for you. OK, so there’s independent learning to do, but generally your classes form the majority of your time.
At university, you’ll find that you do less hours in lectures and seminars and more time in the library. Strange I know, but once you’ve come to realise that during the last two days you’ve spent the same amount of time doing independent study as you have in formal timetabled activities you’ll realise that this really isn’t school!
…even if you were the quiet one at school, you’ll have changed
For every person you meet who turns out to be rather similar to you, you’ll find a complete opposite. You meet such a broad range of people at university that you are going to mix with many different lifestyles and ideas – and that’s before you even go off on Erasmus, should you choose to go.
As a person you’ll change – I can’t think of a single person who hasn’t. At school I was relatively quiet and kept myself to myself – meeting more outgoing people in my lifetime certainly changed me and… well, ask my girlfriend. She can’t get me to stop talking…!
…when it doesn’t even surprise you how nice student accommodation is
Hold your horses everyone, student living isn’t that bad. I’ve written a comprehensive look at student accommodation for you here.