The first few days of university can be a little daunting for most students – especially in a new city full of strangers. You’re not sure what your flatmates will be like, where exactly you should be going, what exactly you should be bringing or what you’ll need to get done over the next few days. We completely get it. So, this guide will take you through a few of the things you can do to prepare for the run-up to uni and then how to face your first day at uni when you finally get here.
Before you arrive
Register and enrol online
Whether you’re in London already or you’re still yet to travel here, you will be able to register and enrol on your course online, ahead of starting. The enrolment process will involve using some of the details you’ll have been sent through the post or online, so make sure that you have these. It’s only when you’ve completed the registration and enrolment processes that you’ll be given the timetable details for your first few weeks or your first term. Your timetable will tell you about any mandatory welcome events as well as any inductions, lectures or seminars that need to be attended, and what buildings or rooms they’re in. Completing this process will also tell you where you will need to go to get your student card, and when. It’s likely that it’s only when you have your student card that you’ll be able to access the buildings of your university and use facilities like the library.
Find out more about your university online
You might find the most up-to-date info on your university’s social media pages which will post about events like the freshers fair and any welcome events that might be happening. You might also want to get your bearings using a map of the university buildings. You might need to get to buildings at opposite ends of the campus or city when you first start, so look at any maps available ahead of time to help get your bearings.
Join relevant online groups or forums
Have a look on Facebook or other social media platforms to see if there are any groups already set up for your classes or your accommodation blocks or even your individual floors. It will be a useful resource for info going forward but it also means you can get chatting to your flatmates or classmates ahead of meeting them. It always makes things a little easier when you know people beforehand, even briefly. You might find others are coming to uni from the same country or even city as you – maybe you can meet up on your travels here.
Spend time with family and friends
It’s true that everyone can get a little homesick from time to time, and even if you love your new uni life, you will miss your family and friends after a while – especially if you’re not able to see them for months at a time. So, before you make the big move, make sure to spend some quality time with your loved ones. Use the summer to do fun things with them to let them know you’re going to miss them when you go and that they’re important to you. Memories and a few snaps of some good times might keep you comforted if you do begin to feel homesick after the initial chaos of starting uni and finally settling in.
Learn to cook
Over the summer (while you have some time on your hands), it might be a good idea to learn how to do some basic cooking, if you don’t cook already. Using the oven and microwave will only get you so far, and your body will need some healthy and nutritious meals to keep going throughout the first big term. So, ask your parents or family members for help with making some of your favourite meals while you’re still at home. You (and your flatmates) will be glad you’ve done this later down the line. Focus on easy, filling but nutritious meals that won’t cost you too much. You could ask your parents for a student cookbook as a parting gift to take with you.
Once you get here
Explore the area
You’ll have plenty of time to explore the whole of London during your time studying here, but why not take a few outings before you get stuck into your classes this term? You could explore the area your accommodation is in with your new flatmates to get your bearings and find out what your local area has to offer. Go on a reccy to find:
- Your nearest tube station, bus stops etc
- Your local supermarket
- Your local doctor / pharmacy / dentist / health provider
- Your nearest Post Office
- Places you might like to study like an independent library, comfortable coffee shop etc
- Your local gym/park or wherever you might want to get some exercise
Get to know your flatmates
Before things at uni get really busy, this is a great time to get to know your new flatmates. You’ll be living with these people for at least one academic year, so it’s important to all get along. How about cooking a meal for them or cooking something together to allow you to get to know each other?
To get off to a good start, clean and tidy up after yourself in the kitchen and any other communal areas. If you’re sharing your accommodation with quite a few others, it might be a good idea to set up a cleaning rota together so that the load is shared amongst everyone and the place is kept habitable and comfortable for everyone. Also agree at the beginning on how you will deal with any shared costs like cleaning products or consumable kitchen items. Is there anything you need to buy for your shared space? Maybe you could take a trip together to find some nice things to make the place more homely.
The friends you make at university will likely be some of your closest friends as you go through adult life. So just focus on being yourself so they can get to know the real you. That’s how you will make the longstanding friendships some people are very lucky to have.
As well as any timetabled events have a look to see what welcome events are on at the university. For first years especially, the welcome period is full of events to help get you settled into uni life. There might be a freshers week or fortnight, which will be hosted by the student union. This involves things like a freshers fair which will be full of information on what clubs and societies there are to get involved with. These kinds of events will often have a few freebies or deals for you to sign up for or make the most of. It’s a good idea to immerse yourself in events like these and other activities before your classes get started and things get a lot busier.
What to bring on your first day of class
As well as all your home comforts for your accommodation, there are a few things you’ll need to bring from home for going to your lectures and classes. Here’s a packing list of everything you might need for your very first day of class:
- Your laptop or tablet if that’s how you take notes
- A couple of big notebooks if that’s how you take notes
- A study planner or diary to help you keep track of your deadlines, examination and hand-in dates as well as any trips or uni events you need to attend
- Other stationery like pens and highlighters
The main thing you should be bringing on your first day is your attention and enthusiasm. For each first lecture or seminar with each of your new professors, you will be hearing about how they work, what they expect of you, how you submit papers, what each module is worth etc. It’s important information like this that will really help set you up for the next academic year and for the rest of your degree.