We’ve reached Part 3 of my guide to Freshers’ in Southampton (have a look at Parts 1 and 2 here!) – still with me? I hope so, because it’s all important, I promise! It’s just a few days now until you all move in, so if you’re unsure what to expect when it comes to sharing a kitchen, or if you’re totally befuddled by all the online logins you’ve been doing over the last few weeks, read on…
K – Kitchen
If you’re in self-catered accommodation, you’ll suddenly be sharing your kitchen with any number from 4 to 20 people in some cases, so it’s really important to make things as easy as possible for you and all your flatmates, and it’s pretty simple:
Don’t use people’s things without asking.
Don’t steal their food, because that’s just not cool.
Try to tidy up after yourself.
These might sound oversimplistic, but most problems in shared kitchens arise from not adhering to these simple instructions – have a look at my more detailed tips on surviving the student kitchen, from the perspective of someone that learned from their mistakes, and at Part 1 (C) of my guide, for tips on eating right at university (it’s not all “eat your greens”, don’t worry!).
L – Library
Now, I’m not expecting you to head to the library on your first day of Freshers’ Week, and I’ll confess I didn’t use the library as much in my first year as I should have done, but it’s a good idea to do a quick reccy of the library you’ll be using – Hartley Library on Highfield Campus, Avenue Library, the NOC or in Southampton General Hospital – in your first few weeks here in Southampton, so that it’s not quite as daunting when you actually want to start using them for work.
It’s not a problem if working in the library isn’t for you, but if you’re the sort of person who might get distracted easily working in your bedroom or with friends – hello Buzzfeed – then maybe taking your laptop or tablet to the library is a good way to keep more focused. Not to sound preachy though, but one thing to remember is that other students also using the library may not take kindly to people not working or causing disturbance when they’re battling dissertations, so make the most of the peace and quiet if you’re going to study in there (and I’ll warn you, getting a seat in the library at peak study times can be something of a struggle).
M – Money
It’s not something you want to have to think about, but it’s very important when it comes to living independently away from home – for students, it’s all about saving money wherever possible, so here are my top tips for getting your money’s worth as a student (some of them are quite obvious, but bear with me):
Student Discount – although Southampton doesn’t allow you to get an NUS card as they’re not affiliated, you can still get probably 95% of the same offers (from my experience the only offer I wasn’t allowed because of not having an NUS card was with the Co-Op at the bottom of Glen Eyre Road, so it’s not a big problem!) – as long as you have your Student ID on you all the time (you should try to do this anyway) pretty much all shops, including shops that aren’t in Southampton, should accept this for a valid student discount. As for online, the Unidays website allows you to log in and verify that you’re a student at Southampton, and then you can get all the same online discounts as anyone else – they even have an app you can use in shops in case you’ve forgotten your ID! West Quay does a big student lock-in early in the term where most shops are offering higher student discounts for one evening, so look out for that.
Loyalty cards – this seems a bit obvious, but I’d say I’ve saved probably over £100 in the last year from various loyalty cards and points cards from different shops, as it’s really easy to get points if you shop there regularly – for example with Sainsbury’s Nectar Points cards – and then when you don’t have quite enough cash on you, it’s a nice surprise to find out you’ve got £10 on your points card. If you ask in pretty much any shop you go into they’ll probably have one, and it’s a great way to get a little extra money.
Offers, offers, offers! – again, it’s an obvious one, but I like to think I’ve become something of an obsessive bargain hunter since I started uni – I’m not saying get rubbish products because they’re half the price of normal, if you’d rather have quality and would rather go to Tesco than Asda, but Tesco will have loads of offers that you can take advantage of, as will most shops. If you’re buying some washing up liquid, why not buy 5 and save 20p? As they say, every little helps, and it literally does, so don’t underestimate saving a few quid in the long run (and by all means shop at Asda if you do want to save even more money – the supermarket price wars are quite a benefit for students).
There are of course loads of part-time jobs in and around the university, so keep an eye out for them if you’re looking to earn some extra spending money.
N – Nights Out
You’ve heard the stories, the good and the bad. The infamous Freshers’ Week parties have become legendary around the world.
Here at the Wessex Scene we’ll be providing you with plenty of tips on having a good experience and making the most of your nights out (see our article next week about saving money on drinks), as well as other things you can enjoy every night of Freshers’ if clubs aren’t your thing, so keep an eye out for them for a more comprehensive guide to clubbing, but in the meantime here are a few ways to make sure your nights out go smoothly and you really enjoy that side of your Freshers’ Week.
Plan your week – have a look at the timetables for the different halls and think about what events you’d like to go to. Of course, once you arrive you can coincide these with your flatmates, if you’d like to bond by going out together, but make sure you know when the events you’re most excited about are happening so you don’t accidentally miss something great.
Stick together – it sounds old-fashioned, but it’s true. You can have the best night out ever but if you all run off and leave one of your group behind, they’ve then got to find their way home on their own, which can mean them being upset with you, having to pay for a whole taxi fare to get themselves home safely, and in some unfortunate cases even more serious and dangerous circumstances. So even if it means hanging around at a club for a little bit longer than you’d like, or taking someone home early if they’ve had a bit too much to drink, just make sure that you don’t leave anyone alone without anyone else to stick with.
So keep an eye out for more tips on making the most of your nights out throughout the year, and also for things you can do if clubbing’s not your thing – there are loads of student bars and pubs in Southampton to enjoy with student prices, as well as live music events, free films and loads more on campus. Make sure it’s your Freshers’ Week, and you do all the things you really want to do.
Studying at Southampton, as with most universities, comes with a lot of admin, as I’m sure you’ll have all learned in the last few weeks, and unfortunately it’s not as simple as just logging into one page –you’ve probably currently got about a million different logins for Sussed, Blackboard, Soton email and more, and the whole enrolment process can be a bit confusing, but once you’re settled into university, it’s a good idea to keep on top of it all. Try to check your emails once a day (if you have a smart phone it’s normally pretty easy to sync them to your other inboxes so you don’t miss anything) because that’s the first place you’ll hear about lesson cancellations, room changes and society meetings – Facebook’s great for all that but emails are often the most efficient way they’ll use to get hold of everyone.
There’s also the Southampton University app which I’d really recommend – not only does it have a map (I don’t think many students or staff could tell you where every single building is on campus, and that’s from someone who’s spent four Open Days directing people everywhere) but you can also access your weekly timetable, so it’s sometimes easier than logging into Sussed when you’re on the move. As for Blackboard, it’s something else you should check regularly, and for most subjects it’s essential for keeping on top of your weekly tasks from tutors, and for accessing content for parts of your course.
Come back tomorrow for Part 4 of my guide to all things Freshers’, where I’ll tell you all about societies and Solent, and you can see me struggling for something beginning with Q!