So, the time is nearly here. You’ve got your place at UoM, you’re buying what feels like IKEA’s entire catalogue in preparation for leaving home, and it’s finally dawning on you that you’re about to go to university. Here are some things that we (4 students going into the final year of our degrees) wish we’d known when we were in your position!
1.) Distinctive Cutlery
- Mark your cutlery with nail polish (I did hot pink on the end of the handle and my room number in purple), so you know which is yours.
- Everyone’s cutlery will get confused very easily, so it’s good to prepare!
- Don’t buy expensive textbooks beforehand!
- The library has many copies of textbooks and eBooks (in most cases!) so try and get there early to loan the one you want or look at the online catalogue.
- While Mancunians think the stereotype of 24/7 rain in Manchester is slightly overexaggerated (it’s overcast more often than it rains), it’s not a dry city.
- So, buy a GOOD, wind-proof umbrella!
4.) The Important Bits
- Read through all the information on the Welcome Website and in your Get Ready Guide to ensure you bring everything you need (don’t forget to complete IT sign-up and online registration!).
- Read through the SALC Students blog for tips from current students.
Freshers & Welcome Week
1.) You Don’t Need to Buy Freshers’ Wristbands
- You’ll probably decide with your flatmates on the day which events you’d like to go to, so don’t feel any pressure to buy expensive wristbands in advance.
- Some wristbands are scams that include events held in places that don’t even exist! So, if you are going to buy a wristband make sure you do your research.
- Look at the SU Welcome page (they have a newsletter you can sign up to) and look for events put on by SALC during Welcome Week.
2.) Take part in SALC & Department-Run Activities
- SALC and your department will put on events during Welcome Week: they’ll help you settle in and find your way around campus quicker, and you’ll be able to make some new friends other than your flatmates.
3.) Fresher’s Flu
- Make sure to keep a stack of medication, such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, flu tablets and throat lozenges for if the dreaded Fresher’s Flu strikes!
- The university has over 400 societies: make sure to check out the Societies Fair to learn more about them!
- Go out of your way to join as many societies or attend as many taster sessions as you can! Joining a society that you enjoy early in your degree can quickly help you make friends with similar interests as you, as well as reducing study stress.
Living With Your Housemates
1.) Cleaning & Housemates
- Get a cleaning rota for your communal areas sorted early into living together – important tasks include:
- Cleaning/wiping down the sides.
- Taking the bins out.
- Cleaning the sink.
- Cleaning the hob.
- Cleaning the microwave.
- Going through the fridge-freezer/cupboards and getting rid of expired food.
- It’s more likely to be smooth sailing if it’s sorted out early!
- Flats get messy easily (and quickly), as there’ll be about 8 of you living in close quarters and it’s likely to be the first time that you’ve lived independently.
- If you’re a clean person, there’ll likely be at least one person in your flat that you consider ‘messy’. Once the rota’s sorted, don’t fall into the trap of doing other people’s jobs for them, just so they get done. You’ll be doing them all year!
- If people aren’t pulling their weight, have a chat to them about it first, then talk to ResLife if nothing improves.
- Wipe down surfaces you’ve used before and after cooking/preparing food, so you know it’s clean.
2.) Washing Dishes
- Try to avoid leaving your dishes/pans in the sink! It is easy to do this, but once everyone starts it really builds up. It’s much easier to clean as you go.
3.) Tea Towels
- It’s likely that everyone will bring at least one tea towel (I don’t think you need more than 2 each) but it’s less likely that they’ll be cleaned regularly! Maybe keep one handy in your room just in case.
4.) What to Keep in Your Room
- Keep anything in your room you don’t want to share or wouldn’t want stolen. This might include:
- Snacky bits, like chocolate, biscuits, and crisps etc.
- Soft drinks and alcohol that don’t need refrigerating (you wouldn’t believe how quickly a multipack of cola can vanish!).
- Your favourite mug.
- Things like cutlery and glassware
- The Splitwise app is great for keeping track of owed money.
- You can start a group for your flat, and when you buy something (e.g., a round of drinks) input the cost and who it’s split between into the app; the other people involved will get a notification that they owe you money.
- It also keeps track of how much is owed in total.
2.) Student Discounts
- You can get student discounts at many places around Manchester, as detailed in this SALC Student blog post (points 2, 3, 9 & 14 are now outdated).
- Bring your student ID with you on a night out in case you go somewhere that will give you a discount!
- When you receive your first ever student loan, it’s so tempting to spend it on fancy trainers or drinks for the whole flat every Friday, but that money will need to sustain you until the next loan payment.
- Budget all your expenses beforehand (a spreadsheet is a great way to do this) to avoid eating your flatmates’ leftovers for dinner (possibly an exaggeration, but you get the point!).
Little Things to Know Throughout Your First Year
1.) Don’t Forget or Lose Your ID!
- As we’ve already mentioned, you can use your student ID to get discounts.
- However, you’ll also need your ID to get into some university buildings, such as the Main Library and the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons, as well as your accommodation (if you’re living on campus)!
- You can also use your ID as temporary payment for a taxi as part of the SU Safe Taxi Scheme.
2.) Use a Map app on your Phone
- When you’re moving to a new place, finding your way around can feel really overwhelming.
- Make sure to get a Map app on your phone (Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc.) so you can look up new places and access directions to wherever you go.
- The directions can be adapted depending on your mode of transport (car, walking, or public transport), and you can input your desired departure or arrival time so you can plan ahead.
3.) Do Your Own Thing
- Don’t be afraid to try new things just because it might be a bit uncool.
- As someone told me before I started, everybody who goes to university is at least a bit of a nerd anyway, so do what you want!
4.) It’s Normal to Feel Homesick
- Remember that everyone probably is feeling the same way as you.
- So, if you’re missing home or feel lonely, don’t worry at all.
5.) It’s a Journey!
- University life is the biggest and most fun learning experience!
- Regardless of how much you prepare and think you know, there will always be a few surprises and perhaps even a few curveballs, but that’s just part of the adventure and is okay!
Written by Georgia Harris