Anna’s daughter Izzy recently hosted a ‘Ask A Student Q&A’ Instagram Live on going to uni and surviving Freshers’ Week. Lots of excellent questions were asked and answered, so we’ve summarised the information for you here. If you’re off to uni or college soon, we hope it’s helpful!
Before you go
What should I pack?
There are loads of good packing lists for uni online, so definitely have a look at those. We think the one from Save The Student is particularly comprehensive – you won’t need all of it, but it will make sure you don’t forget anything. Also, check out our list of 10 essentials that you might not think to pack. If you want to know what my top tip is, it’s very definitely an extension lead!
Should I join social media groups in advance or wait until I get there?
Join them! I went to Warwick and the Facebook freshers’ group was pivotal to buying and selling event tickets, seeing what was happening and lots more. WhatsApp groups and messenger groups are likely to be set up pretty soon too, especially by accommodation, which can be helpful if you’re not one of the first to arrive.
I’ve been told by lots of people to take fancy dress. What type?
Pretty much all unis will have some sort of society night where dressing up will be involved, although this will obviously vary according to where you’re going. You can get what you need from charity shops or online but if you already have it, Halloween costumes, Christmas jumpers, school uniform, 70s/80s/90s, film themed costumes and the like will probably come in very handy.
Arriving at uni
What kind of arrival slot works best?
This is one of my top tips – get an early slot! If you can arrive in the morning on the first day available, you will be able to unpack and sort your room out before everyone starts socialising together. I had quite a late arrival slot, so didn’t have time to fully unpack for two weeks…
How do you get to know other students on the first day?
As with all of these questions, this will depend on your uni. But it’s very likely to be similar everywhere and you should find everyone gathering in the kitchen or communal areas from the beginning, all very keen to go out from the first day. It might be slightly awkward at first and you’ll have to answer a lot of questions on ‘where are you from, what A levels did you do, what are you studying’ but they just need to be got out of the way. And after the first night out, it will all be much more chilled! I know it’s easy to say, but try to relax and not worry too much. It will all just happen. Just make sure you join everyone, wherever they are.
How do you choose which events to go to if you don’t know anyone?
Most unis will have a Freshers’ Pass or something similar which covers most of the events. There will probably be an event organised that everyone in your accommodation goes to on the first night, so that you get to know the people you’re living with. Or you’ll find that the people in your flat/hall will organise themselves to go to the same event – everyone is in the same situation, after all. Keep an open mind and don’t depend too much on what other people say the events will be like. Go to anything you really like the sound of yourself.
Is it ok to stay in during Freshers’ Week?
Of course it’s ok! If it’s your personal preference not to go out, nobody should judge you. Just bear in mind that it’s the only week of your whole uni time that you can go out guilt-free, without any work waiting to be done. So make the most of it while you can! But know yourself, make sure you’re ok and if you don’t want to go out one night, then don’t. And if people judge you for that, they’re not your people.
What would you do differently in your first week if you could go back?
Like I said, book an earlier arrival slot so that I could unpack! Also, I was told so often before uni that the people you’re living with and who you meet on the first day aren’t necessarily going to be your closest friends. I met some amazing girls on the very first night and lots of them are still my really close friends now. But it took me most of my first year to get so close to them, just because I was worried about not missing out on other friendships. I wish I’d spent a bit more time with them from the beginning but I also definitely don’t regret going to societies and sports clubs and doing other things to meet people too.
Can you pay on the door for events? And can you sell/exchange tickets/wristbands?
Completely depends. It’s probably less likely now, with Covid. It’s always best to try and book tickets early, you can usually sell them on if you decide not to go. There is usually a re-selling ticket group within unis or you will be able to do it unofficially between friends.
Best advice for dealing with a hangover?
It’s a bit of a personal thing but from everything I’ve read make sure you rehydrate and replace salt and sugar. Drink a pint of water before you go to bed and make sure you have a big glass of water by your bed too. Keep drinking the water the next day and orange juice helps too, with sugar and vitamin C. When I go out drinking now, I also try and have a drink of water every time I have an alcoholic drink, which helps.
Were you worried about a heavy night out without a good friend to have your back? What would you advise generally to keep safe?
I wasn’t worried at the time but now I’m much more aware, as I’ve known of so many potentially dangerous nights out. You do need your friends to be with you but even if you don’t know anyone that well, there will be people there who are keeping an eye out for someone in trouble. It might be Student Union committee members, or sports club Exec members, for example. The bouncers and bar staff are also well versed in dealing with issues.
Follow all the basics like not leaving your drink unattended and try not to get too drunk. Most bars and clubs now have an ‘Ask for Angela’ policy. It might be a different name but it will be publicised on the bar or in the ladies’ toilets.
- What do you do if you lose your room key on a night out?
Realistically, this is bound to happen to you at least once. It’s not ideal, but the university will have a system in place for you to replace it. At my uni, you had one strike and then you had to pay for a new one. If you are locked out of your room, you might be able to wake a resident advisor (an older student who lives in halls to help freshers). Or you will just have to sleep in someone else’s room if not.
Can you get deliveries from companies like Amazon to your room in halls?
Of course! The exact way it happens will depend on your uni. It might be to a campus post office or direct to your halls. There will probably be Amazon lockers etc too. The same goes for food deliveries, both grocery orders from the big supermarkets (they’ll just call you to come down when they arrive) or takeaways. Students are renowned for their excessive takeaway orders! Dominos Pizza had a permanent 24/7 two-for-one offer for student accommodation at Warwick and we ordered more than a few! So Dominos, Uber Eats, Deliveroo will all be fine.
Best tips to avoid Freshers’ Flu?
Realistically, with all the new germs and viruses you’ll be exposed to and the amount you’ll be going out, you need to expect your immune system to take a hit! Some people get it worse than others so try and stay as healthy as possible. Eat properly, drink water, do exercise. Most people are ill for a few days during the first term, but it usually doesn’t last. Just make sure you take some time off from going out if you’re not well, so that you recover properly.
How often should I do laundry?
Don’t let it pile up! So many people wait until they run out of clothes. Just make sure you do it as soon as you have a decent amount and your life will be so much better. One of the items on our list of 10 essentials that you might not think to pack is a laundry basket and you’ll be surprised how much easier it makes life to have one.
Are certain nights out better than others? Is it usually a Friday or Saturday?
Student nights are often held on other nights, such as a Monday. If you don’t have lectures or labs on a Tuesday, you can make the most of this, as they’re much cheaper!
How do you decide who to live with in second year? And when?
When decides on the uni and the local housing market. Different unis vary widely. I had to decide really early so I didn’t have that many options, as I didn’t know as many people at that time. If you have loads of choice, write a pros and cons list. Don’t worry about finding people to live with, people are always looking to fill a room and post about it everywhere. But it’s really rare to struggle to find someone to live with. Just make sure you’ve considered the fact that living with someone is different to being friends with them. Think about what will make for an amicable life, especially as second year is more serious and you will have to work much harder.
If you have any more questions that you’d like a student to answer, let us know! Send us a DM on Instagram or email us and we’ll be really happy to reply in confidence. And have an amazing time at uni!