Let’s be honest, starting to look after yourself and potentially living away from parents can be a daunting thought. However, in the age of digital technology and where everyone seems to have information available at the touch of a button, it doesn’t have to be quite so bad! If you, like me, didn’t quite have independence in the house as much and you’re just starting out in looking after yourself, be you a fresher to uni itself or to being the “proper grown up”, here’s 6 fantastic resources to help you to step into those shoes and make yourself proud.
Your University or College App
This one probably sounds a little cliche, but these days most institutions will have their own app on iOS or Android, or a web application built into their site. These usually let you access timetables, reading guides such as LibGuides, the library catalogue, resource booking, possible access to an online learning environment and an online directory or webmail so you can get in touch with different tutors, lecturers, professors and support staff. Whilst it may seem a bit of a gimmick at first, in time you’ll find this may become your daily companion to allow you to get to what you need. Back when my university campus existed, we used a tool known as the Pocket Campus (which also existed as an intranet as well as kiosks and a pair of giant touchscreens in the reception) and gave invaluable access to things like booking studio time or finding out what the latest bulletins for the campus were.
These days, it’s easy enough to learn any basic skills you might need such has how to cook something, how to change a component in your car or how to fit a new cylinder on your gas heater. Depending on what responsibilities you may have been given at home, you might find you’ve got some new ones in your new digs, from cleaning up the house to making your own food.
Sites such as Howcast, Instructables and Wikihow offer great step by step instructions and channels like SORTED Food and How To Adult on YouTube give you helpful tutorials in video form. If you’re stuck for motivation, there’s even channels for that too such as The Life Survival Guide series on WERK! TV (Devon Werkheiser, of Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide fame).
Living like a student is a pricey business. Fortunately many companies feel your pain and like to display offers and discounts to students. Unfortunately, it can be hard to keep track of this without a fairly centralised experience. In the UK, sites such as NUS TOTUM (formerly Extra) offer a great directory for deals, especially for students. Internationally there’s also Student Beans, UNiDAYS and the ISIC Card to take advantage of, with an array of benefits online and on their app! Sign up early to make the most of these throughout your time at uni. Amazon also advertise their Prime service at a discount too, provided you have a student address.
Access to tech and software from the likes of Adobe, Dell, Microsoft and HP is cheap too from their websites. On certain courses, access to software may be free courtesy of your institution through the Microsoft Student Partner Program found on the MSDN website.
Finally, don’t forget the generic discounts you can get from the likes of HotUKDeals, PRIORITY (offers and event tickets) on the O2 Mobile network or Wuntu on the Three mobile network.
If you’re starting afresh or just need to find some like-minded people to share the experience you’re all going though, student forums and groups are good good place to start. Many colleges across the world will have their own community forums or apps that will be advertised to you at application (possibly even part of the apps mentioned above!), on the website or emailed to you as part of a welcome pack. The Student Room is also a popular option in terms of a message board, whilst typing in virtually any university name into Facebook can pretty much guarantee a wealth of groups already existing. Not seen a Fresher’s group for you yet? Why not start one featuring your institution or campus name – don’t forget to set it to public so other new students can find and connect with you. If you prefer a more Tinder style approach to making new friends and meeting people, Friendsy is another option more focused to US students available for iOS or Android on the respective app stores.
Given a number of you will have already started or will be beginning in the next couple of weeks, don’t forget to attend all the welcome events and socials occurring both as part of Fresher’s Week and in local bars, clubs, sports teams and organisations. These are crucial networking events on different levels to allow you to meet others in the same boat as you as well as veterans that can steer you in the right direction, and in the case of interest groups may be people who share your passions and/or interests, breaking a huge chunk of the ice to get you involved in conversations and activities to allow for that all important bonding where friendships and partnerships form. Not found a group you like? Similar to the online groups, why not open up your space for a party or a meal? Just ensure you follow your house or college/university guidelines to ensure you don’t get your new found friends on the wrong side of things, or that first impression might not go down so well!
Don’t Forget Your Old Friends!
Whilst it might seem a little backwards, especially if you’ve moved cities, states or even whole countries to get to your institution, but friends are friends and will always be there to give you the same form of advice. If anything, they may still be going through what you are at a different institution and may be able to offer advice on what has worked for them as well as you offer them in return. For those whose friends may be in different fields, they can provide you with that sense of grounding as you get used to a new life and will ensure you still have those people to see when you go back home or visit a place where they live and allow your friendship to grow with you and your life as you both/all learn to adult together.
For those who have been through it before, what was it like adjusting to student life for you? Do you maybe have any alternative advice? Feel free to share any stories and comments down below!