Going to university is one of the biggest life decisions you’ll make. It will open doors to experiences and opportunities that you can’t begin to imagine and it will probably the best years of young life. But I remember like it was yesterday that moving away from home also comes with heaps of nerves and your imagination is running wild from all the movies you’ve watched.
If anyone had given me some truths about university life, it still would not have prepared me for what I was diving into but I’m going to share with you my top 10 tips to prepare you for university life. Think of these as the 10 things people will forget to tell you about going to university.
10 tips to Prepare you for University – Studying Abroad
- You’re going to need a budget
- You will get homesick
- Making friends is easier than you think
- But it’s also okay to fall out with people
- Learning to cook will save you $$$
- You don’t have to go to all your classes all the time
- Don’t spend all your money on clothes and ‘stuff’
- Get ready to explore your city
- Get ready to try new things, experiment with life
- JUST BE YOURSELF
You’re going to need a budget
Whether you have student loans, a government allowance or you’re self funded, you need to plan a budget to prepare you for living out on your own. A rule of thumb that I follow in this day and age is that everything is going to be more expensive than you expect.
So, you need to plan out how much you’re going to need for living and school (groceries, rent and bills if you pay them, laundry, textbooks etc) and then how much you want to spend on luxuries like going out, trips and outings and then how much you want to save.
Things to note:
I think it’s so important to prioritise your self care in your ‘needs’budget, this includes physical health like gym memberships or yoga classes. Bearing in mind that there are also plenty of free things you can do to keep fit. And in order to care for you mental and emotional health, it’s ok to include hobby memberships like clubs and societies in your ‘needs’ budget, in order to maintain your peace of mind.
When it comes to luxuries and your budget there are a few things to keep in mind. Entrance fees for clubs, and eating at restaurants can be over the roof expensive, but it’s worth researching the things in your area that are free and making the most of these. Remember as well that alcohol is one of the biggest breakers of student bank accounts.
Finally, never underestimate the power of student deals and discounts.
You will get homesick
At first, you’ll be having such an amazing time getting used to your classes and making new friends but at some point when you’ve settled into your routine, a little bug of homesickness will hit you and you’ll be calling home at least once day. Trust me, by my third month of my first year I was calling my mum every day to ask her how to make toast.
If I can tell you one thing though, it does get better. It’s all part of moving away from home and gaining your independence.
Home will always be there, this is your time to find out who YOU are and to learn to be happy with yourself. If you find yourself missing home, don’t ever be scared to reach out to home and seek comfort, but also use this time to meditate, journal your thoughts, or pour yourself into old hobbies, or try something new.
If you need to talk to someone and sort through your thoughts that this okay too, have healthy mental health practises in place to get through these times, knowing that this whole experience will make you stronger than when you came into it.
Making friends is easier than you think
All you have to do is say one word, ‘hi!’. Yup! Making friends is as easy as that.
Saying hi to everyone you meet will have you making connections in no time. Start in your course, then branch out as you join societies and clubs. Say hello to people in the library, in the campus coffee shop, at events, in your building elevator or in the laundry room.
It can be a bit weird at first saying hi to a random stranger, but just remember that you have nothing to lose, and a brand new friend to gain. It’s easy to get yourself into a rut and think that you’re not going to make any friends, but you’re awesome, and you’re going to meet people just as awesome as you!
That being said, it’s also okay to fall out with some people
Not every single person you have an initial connection with is going to become your lifelong friend. And that’s okay.
The first few weeks of university you’ll be making all these connections and adding everyone on social media, but people will eventually start to move away and slowly you’ll be left with a small group of really good friends. Quality over quantity always!
You are allowed to be picky about the people you surround yourself with. Sometimes things can get ugly, but it’s ok to gently get rid of toxic relationships and make sure that your friends inspire you and bring out the best in you.
Learning to cook will save you so much money
One of the biggest drainers of bank accounts is ready meals and food deliveries. Learning to cook a few simple recipes will not only reduce your grocery budget, but it’s also so much better for your health.
Use apps like Pinterest to save some easy and healthy recipes to your boards. Need some inspiration? Check out my some of my pins!
My first year of university was when I discovered veganism, and I had the best time experimenting with fun new recipes and doing bulk grocery shops allowed me to save so much more than I would have if I had been ordering food all the time.
However, I am definitely not against the occasion pizza party Friday night!
You don’t have to go to all of your classes all of the time
This is one thing they don’t tell you about going to university. It’s completely different to regular school, sometimes you’ll have to be present for classes that take attendance and other times your lectures will be recorded and you can watch them online.
You have a lot of control over your own time. That can be a huge blessing but with such freedom comes responsibility, so it’s up to you to decide how you’re going to manage your time.
Don’t spend all your money on clothes and ‘stuff’
My first year of university was spent buying clothes I didn’t need that lasted me only a couple of months, and falling into the trap of filling my tiny little dorm room with random things I really didn’t need. That is, until I discovered minimalism.
You don’t have to be a full blown minimalist to realise that you don’t need to be buying clothes and accessories in every season. For one thing, the fast fashion industry is one of the greatest contributors to the climate crisis and promotes an unhealthy consumeristic culture. Not to mention you’re spending money that you could otherwise be saving or using on meaningful experiences.
Buy quality items that will last longer, and by all means buy things that you need to make life a bit more comfortable but maybe cut back on the splurging.
Get ready explore your city
You’ve come all this way, the last thing you want to say at the end of these few years is that you didn’t explore the place you were in while you were there.
The best way to explore the area where you live is on foot. Use your weekends to take a stroll in your nearby park, walk as far down your street as you can go and uncover it’s hidden corner stores and pubs. Take a bus to the city hot spots and get lost among the tourists and business people.
Get to know your home away from home, and see what you can learn from the people and the life of the city.
Get ready to try new things & experiment with life
Now is the best time to try new things and just as good as it is to know what you like, it’s also good to figure out what you don’t enjoy.
I joined the women’s rugby team in my first year and after one session I realised it wasn’t for me. But I made some new friends in the process. I started this very blog when I started university, just to try it out, and now it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I went on tinder dates and found out I hated them. I once walked around London dressed up as Santa in my first ever pub crawl.
Think of your life as a little piece of clay, and you have the power to mould it and shape and do anything you want with it.
Join as many clubs and societies as you can and get involved in the things you never thought you would. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and force yourself to grow, because what’s life if not the chance to see how far we can go. Travel, try a new sport, take a singing lesson, do some yoga, learn how to drive, get some work experience, try pole dancing, run for student president, get into photography, fall in love, DO IT ALL!
JUST BE YOURSELF
University is stressful and it’s a lot of hard work, but when it comes to maintaining your peace of mind, don’t take yourself too seriously.
Just be yourself, be authentic, and the rest will work itself out. I’m not saying it’ll all be rainbows and butterflies because it won’t. Heck, I almost dropped out at one point because I was so stressed, but I came out stronger because of the experience.
The right kind of people will gravitate towards you if you embrace the person that you are and the person you’re growing into. Do the things that you enjoy and use your time wisely.
Most of all, HAVE FUN! You’re going to look back and realise that these were the best few years of your young life!
Sit back, grab some Oreos, and let’s see what life has to offer us next.