I've wanted to do a post like this for a while, and I thought it would be a good idea after the A-levels results day, first of all congrats to people who got the results they needed for uni! Secondly I'm not preaching that I had the perfect first year university experience, but I learnt some things (after making a few mistakes along the way) that I thought people might enjoy reading. I was half bricking it, half madly excited last year and I loved reading blog posts about people's university experience and advice. It's actually what got me reading blogs regularly!
What to do before you go
1. Buy a 16-25 Railcard - you may already have one but I didn't and it has saved me so much money on travelling home.
2. See if your university/city offers a bus pass, someone gave me this advice last year and I spent the money in freshers week instead (mistake numero uno!).
3. Sign up to all the Facebook/Twitter/social sites for your freshers, I know loads of people who already had contacts because they made the effort before they even got there!
4. Make sure your student finance is sorted. The student finance office is bad enough with giving students their loans late, don't give them an extra reason!
5. I'm not sure how other universities do it, but at UEA we had to buy our tickets for freshers week before we even got there. It's a stupid system, freshers is great because it's completely spontaneous, so my only advice would be to buy everything. I know that sounds really stupid when everyone tells you to budget, but freshers is in it's own little world, and there's nothing worse then having to stay in on the night where everybody else bought tickets. I actually paid £20 for a sold out event when the ticket was originally £5 because I was that desperate to go. But this advice might be futile if your university doesn't make you buy the tickets 2 weeks before!
6. Practice recipes and cooking, I got a few basic meals down in the month and half in between getting my results and packing up heading to uni, and I actually wish I had learnt more!
What to pack/buy
Okay there's all the obvious, regular stuff that you probably have been thinking about for months, dreaming of the allusive IKEA shopping trip, so here's some things you may not have thought of that my wonderful mother did...
1. Plasters, medicines, bandages, hayfever tablets, painkillers
2. Odds and ends only my mother would think of - batteries, sewing kit, blu tac, cellotape, sun tan lotion, toothpaste, cards, board games
3. Printer - some people may not think a printer is necessary, but I am so thankful I bought mine, I used it constantly and it saved me having to go to the library every time. I see it as a good investment piece, and no-one else in my halls had thought of bringing one.
4. I got a bit carried away when it came to the kitchen section in IKEA, but out of all of the silly things, I would recommend picking yourself up: a garlic crusher, a decent knife, the most amazing sponge ever, a cafetiere (cheap coffee solution), baking tray and a measuring jug.
5. Buy pretty things. Bring your fairy lights and ornaments and trinkets. Rooms in university halls are on the whole ugly and uninviting, so pack them full of all the things that will make it more personal and cosy. My dad thought I was silly for bringing two boxes worth of books because he said I would just have to bring them back in a year, but it was worth bringing a crap load of pointless things because it helps your mind if your room is a little sanctuary!
Good luck to everyone, I hope this advice might help even a little bit! Are you going to university soon, or have any stories/advice to give others?