Monday, 4 October 2010

It's Fresh Meat Week!

Er, I mean, it's Fresher's Week!

That means a buck load of new university students are nervously unpacking their bags and duvets, and undy wears (hopefully) and pictures and teddy bears and other stuffs.
They've said good bye to their loved ones and kicked their napping mothers out of their (single) beds.
So, as someone who has been through it twice before, having survived armed primarily with ear plugs and a mean mugging expression, here are some tips for les newbies!

Before we begin, please be aware that if at the time of reading, it's not legal for you to drink in your country, don't take my advise as a reason to start. Mmmkay?
Plus, I'm really fussy and am only friends with people who shower on at least a weekly basis. You may find some people who aren't that bothered. Everybody's differeeent!


1. Getting money is exciting. Especially money you haven't worked for (yet). Please prioritise what you spend it on! Yes, that designer something may be cute looking and if you wear it every day for your entire degree, then you'll get your money's worth, but if you die of starvation first, then that's just plain stupid. So remember to buy food, okay?
No, seriously. I have seen people try and survive on Sainsbury's basics 9p noodles.
It's not pretty.

2. When you go home, go shopping at home.

By this, I mean raid the cupboard of tinned things.

You, Indiana Jones. Can of Baked Beans, Holy Grail.

3. Always ask if a shop has a student discount! The worst that could happen is they say no.
Unless they start throwing eggs at you instead.
That's definitely worse than them saying no.
But hey, at least you know not to go back there now!

4. If there is a freebie fair, go and pick up all the special offers and discounts that you can.
Getting there before it officially opens, since all the second and third and fourth years will have done this. I found Masters students in the front of the queue!

5. ...but at the same time, only use the special offers when it's actually worth it. Using the pizza voucher and splitting the cost (and saving) between 3 of you is sensible. Using the £9.99 for a pizza of any size voucher to eat an extra large pizza every night is plain stupid. (Unless you're financially inclined that way).
Especially if you're doing it by yourself.

6. Everyone's situation is different. So, for some people, it's cheaper or them to eat together and share out the cost that way.
But if you find your friends are constantly coming over to yours and never invite you to theirs for dinner. Well. I think this makes you a bit of a schmuck.

Or Nigerian. Or a Monica hostess.

Or maybe you don't like your friends' cooking.

Moving on swiftly....


7. Beware of taking pictures. They will turn up on Facebook. Even if you un-tag yourself, they're still there! Lurking on the interwebs....

8. You know that person who gets wasted and throws up and their clothes get all ripped up and stuff? And they wake up the next day completely ignorant of where they are?
Don't be that person.
Especially now that Facebook will rat you out to your family.

9. All the drinking and bar crawls - these aren't the only way to meet people and make friends (especially if you're not into drinking). Societies are a great way to meet people with similar interests.
It makes sense, but I know a depressingly large amount of Fresher's who don't do anything in their first year.
Except drink, but that kind of goes without saying.

10. Try and get out of your house and have a bit of a wander around campus. Where I live seems to have been built especially to prevent socialising, but doing simple things like leaving your door open, or going into the communal space to introduce yourself to your room/flat/house mate is one way to get to know peoples.

11. Hygiene is important. Your flatmates are unlikely to find the mould on your plate as hilariously funny/intriguing/delicious as you. You don't need to be obsessive about it, just polite. For example, try not to culture a new breed of bacteria in your tea cup.
It makes the Earl Grey taste funny.

12. When you're out and about in town, just have your head screwed on and do the usual (especially if you're in a big city):
- Don't leave your drink unattended, or it may get spiked. Yes, this does still happen.

- Always keep an eye on your friends, and hopefully they should do the same for you.

- If someone you know is wasted, don't leave them by themselves.

- Try and hang out with people who had an iota of a sense of responsibility if you plan on murking yourself stupid.
If you constantly go out to get drunk , you may find a lot of people won't want to hang out with you. See 6 and 7

- Don't think it won't happen to you, because that's when it usually does. So walk in well-lit streets, preferably sober and always tell people where you're going. If walking is out of the question, phone for a cab from a reputable company and makes sure they have your correct details.

13. Look after yourself! If you're on campus, and you no longer have your family to care for you, you need to act an adult. (Note I used the word 'act'). Like, trying to take regular showers. And eating well.
Burgers and chips are yummy, but after a while, they'll wear your body down.
And you can't think straight because your brain hasn't got any real fuel to run off, (because Haribo is not a food group, nor does it contain any real nutrients), and you have a feeling that that funky smell is coming from you, then your mental self (as well as your physical self) will suffer.

Oh, lord, how it will suffer.

If not for you, at least look after yourself for the rest of the world. We have rights, you know.
Enduring your unholy pong is not one of them.


14. Yes, I know lectures (in most courses at most universities) aren't compulsory. I mean, most teachers don't even take register! And if you've stayed out until 5am that morning, that 9am lecture doesn't look too great.
But let's do some maths.
For the academic year 2010-2011, the average English/Welsh student's tuition fees are £3,225.
And let's say you have 8 contact hours a week on average, and ten weeks in a term/semester:

So £3,225 / 3 (terms/semesters) = £1075 per term/semester

£1075 / 10 (weeks) = £107.5 per week

£107.5 / 8 = £13.4375 per hour.

So every time a lecture is missed, the average student pees £14 down the drain.
Once or twice is fine.
If you're really not that bothered, stay at home, don't go to university and save yourself £30,000 worth of debt.
But if you never turn up, that's a truck load of money you've spend for nothing.
Do you know what I could do with a truck load of money? I seem to remember touching on it here.

15. Not withstanding the financial cost, it could hit you academically: if your lecturer says something life-shattering that turns out to be an exam question, or gives everyone a hand-out, or explains something that you don't understand 25 weeks later, the night before your big exam ...

Well, all the Red Bull and Haribo in the world can't help you now.

16. If you can, try and do a little bit of work before the deadline. And I don't just mean the night before. It will soften the blow of the inevitable all-nighter. The first one is the hardest.
You'll swear you'll never do it again....

This is usually a lie.

17. If your lecturer gives you an article to read that they've written, don't decide not to read it simply because you think they're arrogant.
Embrace the arrogance.
Encourage the arrogance.
Reference the arrogance in your essay and exam.
And when it is time to graduate, get the arrogance to write you a glowing reference.

18. Most courses you have to work hard to actually flunk.

Please don't work hard in that direction.

You will shame your family, and no longer be able to raid the cupboards for food.

19. If you need help, then find out where to get it. Ask your tutors or your classmates. Some universities have specialist departments that help students look over their work and give them feedback and help.
But don't be irritating about it, constantly harassing the same person who has the same, if not heavier, workload.
For example, if you were sick and missed the lecture, I will give you my notes.
If you went out, got wasted, made out with 25 different people, threw up in front of my door and before crawling into bed and missed the lecture, which I know all about thanks to a certain social networking site, you can bloody well jog on mate.

20. Most importantly, have fun! Try and leave with (mainly) good memories, rather than sucky ones of you being stuck in the library for the entirity of your degree, because you were so obsessive over work.

Or, just a big blank for the last couple of years, since you've been so wasted you can't remember any of it.

Dude(tte). Not cool.

Remember the work life balance - although you're there for a degree, university/college is all about the experience as an entirety.

Enjoy yourself!

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