UNI – it’s new and exhilarating, but completely foreign territory. 7 years on from my own Freshers’ Week and I still remember that buzz I had when I landed on campus, ready for my first experience living away from home, not knowing quite what to expect.
Freshers’ Week and first year, in general, is the start of a steep learning curve, and I’ve delved deep into my uni archives to share a few nuggets of knowledge that I hope will help you get out the other side in one piece!
1. Be yourself
Telling stories about your life back home is a sure way to break the ice with new friends, but please, I beg, stick to what’s actually true (it will only come back to bite you in the ass). I’ll tell you now, it’s not a good idea to try to reinvent yourself at uni; people will see straight through it. If you weren’t a badman in ends please don’t go and be tarkin’ da hardest and flexing on campus. You’ll feel much more comfortable if you aren’t trying to be someone you’re not.
2. Find yourself a little job
Outside of partying, Freshers’ Week is filled with unexpected costs like buying textbooks, which are a lot pricier than you may think (trust me). I happened to have a very close friend on my course, so we split the costs and shared textbooks – yes, the struggle was real. Also, make sure to budget for other one-off costs like your Freshers’ pass or wristband – it’ll get you entry into all the main events.
I would recommend you save some cash ahead of time i.e. over summer, but that ship has kinda sailed (sorry), so if you haven’t already done that… you’re skrewed! JK, get yourself a little part-time job (student hubs often have a job posting wall). Better yet, start monetising your skills that you’ve been giving out for free. Hair braiding and weaves turned out to be a nice side hustle and made me a few pretty pennies.
3. Sign up to societies
Uni is a great place to meet people from completely different backgrounds, but it’s also important to find like-minded people who share similar interests or come from familiar cultural backgrounds – it literally can make or break your experience.
At more prestigious universities in which we, unfortunately, are underrepresented, it can literally feel like discovering treasure when you find other black people. There are so many societies that’ll allow you to connect with other Black Brits, here is a list of a few to look out for:
– African and Carribean Society (ACS)
– Black and Minority Ethnic Group (BAME)
– Caribbean Society
– Nigerian Society
– Ghanaian Society
This is not an extensive list and different unis have different societies, but look out for them because it’s important to seek good community. Joining these societies with other Black Brits is not just a good opportunity to connect with black people in your year, but also those in the years above, who can turn out to be great mentors during and after your university experience.
Outside of the black societies, there are a ton of other societies that will serve your other interests, so there’s no reason for you not to be getting involved! In fact, you must get involved, it’ll make a world of difference when you’re applying for those summer internships later on – remember I told you.
4. Student discounts – jump on it!
There’s nothing I miss more from my uni days than those healthy discounts. It’s time to get into the habit of pulling out that student card any and everywhere you go. Even if the restaurant or shop does not publicly advertise the discount, there’s no harm in asking. If you’re more of shop online type of person, UniDays has got you covered.
5. Live your best life without dying
If your parents had you on strict lockdown before this new venture, this is an opportunity to let loose, but please do so responsibly. You’ll find that the majority of social events involve drinking copious amounts of alcohol, but know your limit. If you’re not used to drinking, please, take time. Getting absolutely hammered and ending up in A&E is not cute. If you don’t drink, good on ya! Don’t feel peer pressured into doing so even though you may be surrounded by it. If you do drink, do so responsibly. You are not obliged to drink yourself under the table every single night (or whine on top of it… unless that’s your thing then go ‘head boo). It’s not only dangerous, but costly and actually will stifle your ability to make connections or forge those initial genuine friendships with people.
All in all, make sure you enjoy yourself! My uni years were some of my BEST, especially my first year, which I will admit was filled with a lot of partying, travelling to different cities for even more partying, and meeting loads of new people along the way. I grew up so much, learnt loads about myself, gained more confidence and chipped away a bit at my shyness. I not only came out the other side with a degree but friends and memories that’ll last me a lifetime.