It's September. That time of year again, where the majority of people under 21 are returning to some form of education. Remember the first day of the school year, the only day you wake up earlier than necessary and spend an extra hour on your hair and 'barely there' make up? Writing in a school book on the thickest part of the notepad, deciding you'd be motivated only to find procrastination as a better option when your teacher hands you the first piece of homework. University is not a million miles away from that world. It may have been a few years since I last put on a school uniform, but on my first day at University, I spent hours agonising over what to wear, how to greet my flatmates. I was more nervous about moving 3 hours up the road to Uni than moving to Italy. And so, to calm those of you who are taking that big leap within the next couple of weeks, I thought I'd impart some wisdom. And if you've been through the Uni thing already, this will probably resonate with you too.


The first, and most important thing to remember is that everyone is in the same boat. You will hear this throughout the whole build up, and will probably hear in in your induction talks too, but it's only because it's right. I thought I was more nervous than anybody possibly could be. I walked into my halls with my last box, having said goodbye to my parents and followed behind a boy, up the stairs, through my flat door, all the way along the corridor, to rooms directly opposite each other. And we were both still too scared to say hello until later on in the kitchen, when we laughed about the awkwardness of the situation. Said boy, Josh, is now my housemate for my second year.

Open door policy is the way forward. At my university, we were all in flats of 8 across various buildings, and my halls were particularly sociable, especially in Freshers. The best night of Freshers was the second night, after bonding with our own flats, everyone headed out into the halls and just bonded with each other. It all started when a guy and a girl from the flat opposite ours came over to introduce themselves and found our whole flat stood on chairs pre-drinking and singing along to S Club 7. Naturally they grabbed chairs and joined us. Anything goes in Freshers week, it's the chance to make new friends and try out so many random sports and societies, (rowing? lacrosse? Asian society?). Some people will become your best friends, some you'll never talk to again, but making the effort is vital, nobody wants to be in the 'ghost flat'. 


When you go into your first ever lecture, a few things will happen. Around you will be a sea of Macbooks. For some reason, everybody at University has one. Bar the odd couple. Don't worry if you don't have a Macbook, having an £800 laptop won't make your essays any better. And you don't have to export all of your files into Word format, so you're the real winners. You will also probably fancy somebody in your lecture, it is not always a good idea to get with said person, because they will probably be sat next to you in a fiver person seminar later on in the year. On top of all of this, it's sometimes harder to make friends on your course than between flats. Sometimes you meet people beforehand, but a lot of it is making conversation with people in your seminars and lectures- just grin and bare it, some of them will probably turn into life long friends.

During your time at Uni, there will be at least one formal of some kind. Girls will wear dresses, boys will wear tuxes. Don't wear heels you'll need to take off. And always wear a dress you can dance in. These are life skills you should carry with you beyond university, but I found at Uni I'd veer towards what my friends were wearing rather than what I would find comfortable. Aka my 5'2 friends are far more used to wearing heels than my 5'9 self. 


Segue, I can't help but feel I changed a lot in basic appearances throughout University. My dress sense developed, my hair, my makeup, a lot about me changed physically at Uni. And on that note, always know, the Freshers 15 is not actually a thing. There's a lot of stigma around weight and uni, a common thought is people either get really fat or really skinny and there's no in between. This is completely untrue, some people put on a pound, some people lose two pounds and some change completely. You're in charge of your eating habits so this is entirely on you. As a whole, my flat were all quite active, involved in sports and going to the gym, which motivated each other more. The only thing I found at Uni which was majorly different, was how what I ate depended on how much I'd drank. I don't usually drink wine or beer socially, so if I do drink it's usually a spirit (hola, vodka) and in preparation for a night out. If I'd been on a lot of nights out, I'd try to eat healthier, but if I knew I was in for a week of deadlines... well, they don't give you that 50% of Domino's code in Freshers for nothing...

Alongside the formals, is fancy dress. Nobody knows how to do fancy dress like University students do. We are the experts. Some people (me and my friend Sophie) may get a bit too into it. Is that a thing? Probably not. But save yourself money and bring any odd bits and bobs you might have. Cat ears, hoola skirts, eye patches, whatever it is, you'll probably use it. And if you don't, somebody else definitely will. I've been a cat, a festival hippie, the solar system, a vampire, Tiger Lily, a life guard and Scary Spice in my first year alone. Uni will turn you into the most resourceful person the world has ever seen, and this will be proved in your fancy dress and party decorations. Sophie and I made a whole giant Twister game once, to save buying the real thing.



My last few points I can leave you in a flurry of advice, Ben & Jerry's is always necessity if the Domino's is discounted, don't kiss too many people in the first week (especially at a campus uni), if you buy a Diary you probably will never use it, don't bother bringing a cheese grater- the best grater in the flat turns into the communal one, change your bed at least once a month, learn how to do referencing properly- it'll save you so much time, VKs are always a good idea, write out your lecture notes instead of typing them, call your mother once a week and most importantly, never mix a drink with sambuca.

Good luck to everyone who's returning to education or starting at a new adventure!
Ciao for Now!
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