As you read this, I will be packing up all my stuff for the last time (huge sad face) as I head back to Bournemouth for my final year! Going into my 3rd year, 4th if you count my placement year, I feel like I have a bit of experience and advice on the subject.
This post will be dedicated to how to settle in, and cope with living in halls.
First up, everyone is in the same boat as you. The chances are, the majority of the people you will meet have also moved to a city they don’t know, as well as not knowing anyone there. Some people will be lucky to know someone from their school there, but honestly I think that can hold you back from meeting new people. Why would you want to make friends with stranger when you already have friends?
If you haven’t already, find your house/course mates. Normally unis have Facebook pages dedicated to each Halls and sometimes courses. I found all my housemates on facebook pretty early on and we had a facebook group where we started talking and broke the ice a bit. At this point, you’ll obviously stalk the hell out of their profiles to see what they’re like and what you’ll have in common with them. However, don’t write anyone off at this point, as it turns out most of my closest friends at uni expected me to be totally different before they met me. It’s also a nice idea to speak to people in other flats around you so you know people outside of your flat. First year is the year to make lots of friends, and when you’ll decide who you’re going to live with next year so step out of your comfort zone!
When I fist moved into my room, I said hi to my flat then we all kind of did our own things with our families and started unpacking. I always like to unpack EVERYTHING before I do anything else but by the time I was done everyone was out in our communal space chatting. Try not to stay in your room too much in the first night or you might feel like you’ve missed out on bonding with the others making you feel left out. Although saying bye to your rents will make you pretty homesick, try and take your mind off of it by getting to know the people you’ll be living with for the next year. If you think you’re the only homesick one, you’re almost definitely not. I spent the whole journey crying, and even cried at a train passing my window because it was going to London (bad luck, huh?).
On my first night, we all took a trip to the nearest Asda to get some essentials and split the price of it all. Things like washing up liquid (warning, you probably wont have a dishwasher), kitchen towels, a toaster, a kettle etc… are things you’ll all use so it’s best to buy them all together so there’s no arguments over who’s is who’s. Without being a Debbie Downer, try to establish rotas for taking the bins out and cleaning. This is all really important if you want a happy house. I had a terrible experience of disgusting overflowing bins and cigarette butts everywhere (despite not being able to smoke inside) which in the end drove our flat apart…
Go to all the fresher’s events you can! YOAFO (you’re only a fresher once) and no matter how much you try to be one in 2nd, 3rd (and even 4th) year, you’ll feel old and it won’t be as exciting. This is the time to find your course friends before uni actually starts so you could find someone to walk to uni with so it doesn’t feel as scary. It’s also the time to go all out on fancy dress and bond with your house mates over 3am Subways and McDonalds.
Living with people you’ve never met before can be tough, and there will be leftover takeaways in your communal area when you go to get your breakfast, and there will be a food thief. Try and keep dry food you don’t want to get nicked (if you don’t have a lock on your kitchen cupboard) in your bedroom, along with your crockery and some cutlery and people will use it, and wont wash it up. My flat all started with everything in the communal area and we slowly took it all into our rooms. If you start with it all in your room, nobody will ever expect to be able to use it.
Try not to go home for at least 2/3 weeks as that’s the hardest part, and chances are if you’re really homesick you’ll probably want to drop out (guilty). If you just sick it out for a few weeks without going home you will settle in and make some friends that’ll take your mind off of it. Decorate your room and make it really homely so you feel like it’s your second home. I’m planning to do a post on how to decorate your room so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Make sure you make the most of your new city and explore it! Getting to know the area will make it seem less like a place you don’t know, and more like your second home. Get your home friends to visit and show them around!
I would personally recommend getting a job, either getting a transfer from your current job or getting a job at your student union or even at a club. You don’t really know how much money you’ll spend until you’re there and if you get a job you’ll be able to still treat yourself while on a student budget. I didn’t hit my overdraft during uni which I was so thankful, all because I had a job. If you’d rather not get a job, definitely look for one at home during summer and Christmas..
I really hope these few tips have helped and put your mind at rest about how you’re feeling, hopefully I didn’t scare you! Despite all that I’ve said, you’ll have the best year and make best friends for life! I mean half of my flat hated me, and didn’t even say bye to me but I still had a great year!