Over the last few weeks we’ve tackled issues which are universal to the student body, but following last week’s results, I feel it’s time we turned our attention to the most naive of our species- Freshers. Don’t mistake me, the first few weeks of university are undoubtedly some of the best weeks you will have here, but they’re also the ones most likely to break the bank: not a great way to start student life! So here are my ten top tips to help you set off on the right (if slightly swaggering) foot:
1) Hopefully, you should have done this a while back, but it is vital to make sure you’ve secured your student loan, and make a note of when you will receive your instalments. If you haven’t done this yet, go to student finance immediately!
2) In budget week, we discussed setting aside some money for big spends. Hopefully, you will have had the foresight to set aside a bit extra for your first two weeks, meaning you won’t have to spend the rest of the year trying to financially recover.
3) A lot of Freshers (myself included) make the mistake of buying enough to kit out a whole new house- you’re moving to student halls, not launching an interior design company! Instead of spending the earth on things with the mantra ‘better to be safe than sorry’- just don’t! Fair enough buy the basics, but hold off buying ‘extras’ until you’re sure you’ll need them, there is an Ikea and plenty of shops in Southampton.
4) In the same vein, be particularly thrifty with kitchen goods such as kettles and toasters. In my flat last year we had seven kettles! Wait to see what your other flatmates have bought, and then pitch in or make a quick trip on the day.
5) Don’t get ahead of yourself with tickets and memberships. It’s very tempting to stock up on batches of tickets for the SUSU cinema or gym membership, but my advice would be to wait until you get there. You don’t know what nights will be popular, if your friends will have also bought tickets, and if you’ll ever actually use the gym. You can buy tickets throughout the whole year, so there’s no rush to buy everything before you get there. Similarly with societies; with over 200 societies to chose from, it’s easy to join everything from Bridge club to Steampunk society (it’s a real thing I swear), but ask yourself how many you will actually stay with long term. Most societies offer taster sessions, so shop around at the Bunfight, go to tasters, and ultimately leave it a few weeks before you actually invest in a society membership.
6) You may think you’re being uber organised buying text books in advance, but if you wait until you arrive, you can use your entitlement card and get them absolutely free at the on-campus bookstore.
7) Beware of scam Freshers tickets. Every year there is a parade of ‘official’ freshers events which aren’t so… well, official. Watch the official Freshers page here for the release of tickets, and only purchase them through the SUSU box office.
8) Make the most of moving in weekend with the bank of mum and dad. Suggest a ‘family trip’ to one of the local supermarkets, so you can stock up on food cupboards and a supply of alcohol- a sure way to make friends!
9) Keep it steady in the Freshers events. Whilst no one likes the party pooper, it’s equally true that no one wants to spend the night looking after someone they’ve just met. By going easy in Freshers, not only will you save money for the rest of the year, but you will also be less vulnerable in the unknown surroundings, and avoid spending the all important first two weeks in hangover hell. There’s plenty of time for alcoholism, trust me.
10) Having discussed what not to buy, here are a few essentials (remember to buy the cheep versions- its only a year!)
- pots and pans
-2 dinner plates, 1 side plate and 2 bowls
-cutlery (a set of four should be fine)
- a couple of mugs and glasses (preferably plastic!)
-food storage containers so you can cook in batches and freeze for later
-print off photos/posters to decorate your room with. A cheap way to make your room feel homely, without having to pack the whole of Cath Kidston
- laundry powder and detergent
- clothes horse
-Things such as toasters, kettles and irons can wait for later. The chances are someone else will have bought them, and you may never use an iron- I used mine twice!
So take this all in, take a deep breath, and relax. A little preparation goes a long way for first year, but the most important thing to remember is to enjoy yourself!