Worries, worries, worries. Coming to university can be quite stressful and you have 1001 things going around in your head. It’s been 2 years since I came to university and my worries have long since gone, however I wanted to be helpful to new students as I still remember how worried I was and would have loved to have an alternative guide of information. Below I have tried to compile some information to help with the things that they might not tell you about coming to uni, and perhaps some of the stuff they do but this time from a student’s perspective.
Combating the worries of coming to University:
My first response to this is to always remember that everyone is in the same boat, yes that seems easy to say, but I can guarantee 90% or more of those coming to uni won’t have experience in living, fending and budgeting for themselves. No one has ever been to uni before so the experience is new to everyone. No one will know where anything is and on the first day everyone will be wondering around like headless chickens so everyone is in the same boat.
Another way to tackle the worries is preparation. Once you’ve finished for the summer you have 6-8 weeks do some research, look at key dates on the academic calendar, keep an eye on the student union website or University Facebook pages for any events upcoming or dates that might interest you. Slowly pack over the summer and gather all your essentials together so you’re not panicking. Check out the posts we have (here and here) on what to bring with you.
How to break the ice with your flatmates and tackling issues if you don’t get on with them:
When you arrive try just talking and socialising. A clever way to promote this is to prop your door open while everyone’s moving in, not only does this air the room but also tells your flatmates you’re ready to socialise. Like I’ve said before, everyone is new and no one knows anyone else so you all need to make friends and who better to start with than the people you’re going to be living with for the next year.
Once the parents and move in helpers have gone in, the fun starts. Traditionally on move in day the student union holds the move in party. You can start by having a few drinks and chit chat at the flat then try going to the party together, even if you don’t drink it’s still a fun way to get to make friends. Good topics of conversation are always what course are they on and where are they from. Try to find out what everyone’s into then arranging outings together, maybe a trip to the city centre (Hanley) or for a meal at the ember lounge.
If you don’t get on with your flatmates, don’t worry. If it’s just that you don’t click, then they aren’t the only way to make friends! There are club’s, societies and your course mates, and as long as everyone’s just friendly, living will be fine. If it’s that your flatmates aren’t bearable, options are available and possible but first thing to do would be to raise it with coalport (the reslife headquarters) who will help you either sort it out or help you move somewhere else as a last resort.
As soon as you get to uni or if you can before, get a student bank account. This gives you the best type of safety bumper in case you don’t stick to your budget (should you make one) or you’re faced with some unexpected spends.
The best way I combated budgeting is to calculate how much you have, after your accommodation has been taken out, by taking that figure and dividing it by how many weeks there is in that semester.
Say you had £1100 after accommodation with 12 weeks in semester 1, you’d have about £91 a week. I’d say you’ll need about £30-40 a week for food and drinks, try walking to the city centre which is only a 15 minute walk and local shops (Asda and Aldi) are only 15/20 minute walks away. Taxis are a waste if you could walk instead and although £4/5 here and there for a taxi doesn’t seem a lot, it is. Make a budget with your money and stick to it as best you can.
· House deposit’s come in December/January. You will need to start looking for a house for next year and a deposit will need to be put down these are usually £200/250. House hunting tips here
· Clubs/societies joining fee. Some are free but most sports clubs come with a joining fee that goes towards coaching, equipment or travel costs. How much these are can be found on the union website.
· Kit – so if you want to join a club, when you go to the clubs/societies fair, ask if you’ll be required to buy anything for it, uniform (cheerleaders) or boots (football/rugby).
· Washing machines and washing costs. You may end up washing more than expected and we all like to keep fresh and clean, so don’t end up having to scrape together some change to wash. Top tip – try wash delicates by hand washing in the sink in your room.
· Travel. Whether this is going home or getting around on the bus or taxi, a lot of students don’t anticipate how much they need to go home or taxis for a night out or back from the shops with bags full of shopping when its raining.
· May sound obvious but nights out. Through my two years’ experience so many students under estimate how much they go out and party. The opportunity to go out or have an experience at university come at you left, right and centre, with things seemingly going on all the time. Student night in hanley on Mondays, karaoke nights Tuesday, gobble on Wednesdays, Mukky Friday and quiz night on Sunday. Then there’s so much to explore in stoke (Check out here) you’ll never have nothing to do.
Support – course and personal:
Course support from my experience is great. Tutors are always available via email, and when they have the first lecture with you, they will give you all the information on how to contact them or where their office is situated on campus. Always try to ask what days they are in so you don’t end up on a wild goose chase. Lecturers always seem to be available, it depends on the person whether they are ok with you dropping in or arranging sessions but help is always on hand. The library is open 24/7 with assistance during daily hours to help you find the books or specific resources. You tend to be given a reading list when you start your course on which books COULD help you with your course, always ask which could help and which you will need for assignments or exams, don’t rush out to buy it, head to the library and see if it’s available. Top Tip – don’t be afraid to ask! Everyone at staffs will help from lecturers, to other students to staff, someone can always help and if not they will know someone who can.
In terms of personal support, the University has a dedicated student wellbeing centre based on campus, located in the Cadman building. It is opening daily and anyone can drop with personal issues like stress, depression or anything that might be influencing your daily life. Full details on their support can be found Here.
For less personal issues and more course or day to day queries, we have two information desks on each side of campus, one in Cadman library and one in the Brindley building. They will be able to assist you with any questions and if they can’t they will know who to point you to, I don’t think I’ve ever gone to them with a problem that’s gone unsolved. For any accommodation or living problems, we have the reslife hub who are always on hand to help.
Finally…I was asked where to go for pizza! Well, the best pizza in town for me is Papa Johns and the chocolate brownie!