This article was published by the Great British Mag content team on 1 September 2021
Starting university is both exciting and anxiety-inducing. There is so much to think about and do within the first few weeks of starting. This can quickly become overwhelming so here are 10 things we recommend you do in your first week to get your university life off to the best start.
1. Get the paperwork done
There is no avoiding the paperwork so get organised and deal with it. Your university will have provided details on what you need to do as an international student to register and pay your fees, so follow the instructions you have been given and get yourself registered and get your ID card ordered, as you will need this to enter the university.
Some international students also need to register at the local police station for which your visa will state a deadline by which this needs to be done.
2. Make your living quarters homely
Most student accommodation looks basic and a bit unwelcoming, unfortunately, which can be a bit depressing and might make you feel homesick, so pack a few things that will instantly make your living quarters feel more homely.
Whilst we encourage you not to overpack a few things like framed photos or Knick knacks that will make your living quarters feel more comfortable are well worth bringing. And another tip is to bring some of your favourite snacks to munch on whilst you make your bedroom a home-away-from-home.
3. Get to know your fellow students
Socialising in a new environment can be nerve-wracking, especially when you are feeling stressed out with everything you have to do. However, this is the moment to be brave and break the ice with the students you will be living with. Take a deep breath, go to the communal area and see who is there and strike up a conversation. We promise they are as nervous as you are and just as eager to make friends.
If you feel like you cannot leave your room, then keep the door ajar. This will make it obvious that you are home and might encourage someone to come say hi to you.
4. Explore your new home
You are in a new place! Go out and explore it and get used to your surroundings. Most importantly get used to the local public transport, especially if you need it to get to your classes.
Also, find out which supermarkets are nearest you and the most wallet-friendly for your student budget. If there is nothing close enough or you are quarantining you can always get your groceries delivered. Supermarkets like the Co-op, Asda, Morrisons and Tesco are quite affordable and will deliver your groceries to your house.
5. Buy any bits and bobs that you are missing
It is inevitable—you will forget to pack some things and others just don’t make sense to bring, when you can easily buy them in the UK. So make a list and hit the shops to buy what you need whether that’s clothes, toiletries, stationary or furnishings to make your accommodation feel homely.
A tip to get on the right side of your housemates if you are in shared accommodation is to buy something that everyone can share, like a packet of biscuits. It will earn you brownie points.
6. Don’t miss the international student orientation event
Most universities host events to help you settle in and where international students can get to know one another. Attend as many of these events as you can. We know jet lag and shyness may get the better of you but remember everybody is in the same boat.
These events are invaluable as they often include a tour of the city and the campus amongst other things, such as the lowdown on the best local restaurants.
We know that you might be worried about how all this will look with the pandemic, but you can rest assured that universities will do everything to keep you safe, and one way to do this will be to hold some of the events online.
7. Go to the Freshers Fair
In a nutshell, the Freshers Fair is how the university and the Students Union welcome you and celebrate the start of the academic year. The events are organised by the Students Union and they include everything from pub nights to events where you can join societies and clubs.
Local businesses, charities and other organisations will also attend the Freshers Fair so it’s a great opportunity to pick up freebies, apply for part-time jobs and become a volunteer.
We know that you might be worried about how all this will look with the pandemic, but you can rest assured that there will still be a Freshers week this year. However, it is likely that many events will be held outside and some will be online to keep everyone safe.
8. Join a society or sports club
From kayaking to debating or video gaming, there is sure to be a society that interests you! Even if you have not done it before this is an opportunity for you to try something new for free before committing to joining the club or society. Trust us, you will not regret it!
A good shout would be to check if there are any societies representing your home country. As they will celebrate traditions and festivals from back home which will help with homesickness.
9. Have fun before your course starts
During Freshers Week there are not only day-time events but also night-time events! Such as pub crawls and club nights. It’s a great way to make new friends and have fun before your course starts.
If drinking alcohol and clubbing isn’t your thing don’t worry! There are many other activities that you can participate in such as pub quizzes, karaoke, film nights or sports events.
10. Explore your university campus
Last but not least, explore your university campus! University campuses tend to be quite big and confusing with labyrinth-like buildings and nonsensical names. Now that you have the free time grab a map (you will be provided with one), take your timetable and have a wander around campus. You will thank yourself when you are not late for your first class because you got lost.
It is also useful to get to know what your campus has to offer from shops, restaurants, bars to a laundrette and a gym you will want to know where to grab something to eat and where you can spend time during your breaks.