University: The Unofficial List of Life Hacks and Advice*
*from a girl that figured it all out the hard way.
- Don’t underestimate the power of a list.
If you’re anything like me (or 99% of the people I met at Uni) you’re not exactly organised… The night before, or the morning of a busy day, write down everything you want to get done that day. It lessens the nagging feeling that you’re wasting (or failing at) the expensive education…
- Do not make the first person you meet your BFF.
Everyone is going to be nervous, or more probably, shitting themselves the first few days. Everyone wants to make friends and find ‘their place’ but DO NOT for the love of God make bezzie mates with the first person you get chatting to because you’re ‘PANIC FRIENDING’. Chances are that person will end up being the weirdest person on your course (not in a good way) and you’ll still be trying to shake them off by Christmas.
- Join at least 2/3 societies.
Even if you only go to the first mixer and basically think NOPE… It helps to meet people that aren’t on your course. Just don’t pay any sign up fees until you know for certain you’re planning on attending for the rest of the year. (£45 quid I never got back for joining the Ski and Snowboarding society - I never even got pissed with them, let alone went skiing…)
- Make friends with people you have things in common with.
I know you’re thinking ‘DUH that’s obvious’ but it’s easy to get sucked in by the ‘omg let’s go get mortal’ during Freshers, when everyone does nothing but drink cheap alcohol and cry into their 3am kebabs. PLEASE have an actual conversation (sober if possible) and get to know what people like to do when they’re not intoxicated. By November when you’re 1000% done with being perpetually wankered, don’t be that guy who (for example) gets stuck with the gym rats who do nothing but ‘lift bro’ and go to the sports bar for ‘the match’ when all you want to do is wear your pyjamas and watch Netflix.
- Ignore the stupid reading list.
No one reads it, and if you do need to read any of it, the tutor will remind you and probably even print out/email you the excerpt you have to actually look at. Please DO NOT waste valuable pizza money on books you won’t ever need. Learn to love yourself.
- Try not to stay up all night for the first week or two of classes.
It’s nerve-wracking but have a shower and a warm drink and try to sleep…You’ll be given your first projects within the first 2/3 days of classes, and wasting the first two weeks enjoying your new ‘freedom’ will make your first term grades suffer… ALSO you’ll be given a summary of the year during the first class of each module, and it will seem a lot less daunting without a hangover/a groggy head from staying up on Xbox Live until 4am.
- Don’t worry about how ‘on fleek’ everyone looks for the first month.
By January no one will care apart from the odd girl who will still painstakingly apply false lashes every day by June… At some point every person will drag themselves into class in joggers and a four day old tee-shirt. The unspoken agreement is they won’t judge you if you don’t judge them.
- Make a meal plan.
It’s kinda annoying working out what you’re going to eat all week, but buying specific ingredients saves a butt load of money instead of getting that fajita kit ‘just in case you fancy it’.
- Let yourself have the luxury of an on-tap comfort meal.
After a shit/long/hard day, you’re going to want to kiss yourself when you remember you’ve got frozen chips, chicken nuggets (or some good old pizza), and beans waiting at home. It’s a relatively low-calorie feel-good comfort meal… Take yourself to bed with a movie and have some me-time.
- Invest in a decent thermal flask.
Not a hipster plastic version of a Starbucks to-go cup… But one with a proper screw on lid. Uni cafe coffee is fucking VILE and expensive, if you make your coffee about 8:30am it should still be hot pretty much all day. Amazon have proper Thermos ones for less than a tenner with free delivery here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thermos-Thermocafe-Stainless-Steel-Flask/dp/B000TAOWC8
- Don’t underestimate how amazing a decent packed lunch is.
Whipping out a proper gorgeous sandwich, crisps, and snacks that would cost (probably) £10 from the uni shop or worse, the ‘deli’ will make people hate you in a good way.
- Long. Life. Milk.
Not for all the time, because it’s kinda gross and you cant have it on cereal because it tastes like shit on it’s own. But for about 40p you can get a carton from pretty much any shop, just keep it in a dark area of your room. At some point you will have to get up for an early lecture, to find your roommate has stolen your last bit of proper milk from the fridge, or you’ve let it go out of date without realising, and you’ll remember that long life milk in your room and want to happy-cry that you can still have your morning coffee…
- Washing tabs VS. powder.
Check in advance that the launderette washing machines have powder drawers, don’t buy £15 worth of Persil like I did, just to get to uni and find out the washers didn’t have BLOODY DRAWERS.
- Only over-pack the actual luxuries.
Packets of biscuits are about 40p, pop is next-to-nothing. BUT shampoo, conditioner and razors etc cost SO MUCH MONEY. Take all the toiletries your mom is willing to buy you and be thankful. Running out of deoderant and shaving gel is not fun when you realise that the ‘essentials’ add about £15 to your weekly shop.
- Don’t be a brand-whore.
You won’t die if you eat off-brand beans. Put some butter in and get over it. Heinz is not the be all and end all. Buying the cheap brands will save major money, and when you’re the one left with £300 to buy Christmas presents your friends will all be crying into their John West tuna sandwiches.
- Don’t forget a colander.
When you’re using anything you can find (the cheese grater, cling film with holes poked in, your roommates tennis racket) to drain your pasta, you’re going to wonder why you didn’t invest 99p in a colander/sieve from the pound shop.
- Ear buds.
If you’re living in halls, you’re really going to learn the value of peace and quiet. You can only bang on your roomies doors so many times before it’s just no use. Pop in your ear buds, and just choose your battles. (Also come in handy when you overhear the inevitable sex that IS going to happen. No escape.)
Even if you’re thinking ‘I’m never going to get laid’, ‘but I’ve got a steady boyfriend’, ‘But, I’m a lesbian’ personally, I was thinking the latter, but I took some anyway… Freshers week when I had a roommate who had brought a lady home and didn’t have any ‘things’, I was his hero. Basically, not accidentally getting knocked up, or saving your friends from doing so, is a good idea.
- Surviving l o n g lectures.
Take rustle-free snacks, and wear loose trousers (or a baggy top which will cover up your skinny jeans when you undo the button… sitting down with your belt cutting into you for three hours is not the greatest thing ever.)
(Disclaimer: These may not apply to everyone, they’re just from my personal experience. This list was composed originally for my best friend when she started her own uni journey; she suggested that I share it with the internet.)