Some Advice to Incoming Freshers!
By Bethan Collins
Despite now going into my third year at Swansea, it really doesn’t feel like freshers was so long ago. Between meeting new people, moving to a new place, and learning to look after myself, the last two years have been a blur! For the most part, I’ve loved being at university. However, there are a few things I wish I had known during the first few months. That’s why I decided to write this article. I asked around a few friends and reminisced on the last couple of years to come up with these pieces of advice that some second and third year students wish they had known at the beginning.
Leave your door open
Moving to university can feel daunting, but one great thing about moving into a new place with strangers is that you’re all in exactly the same boat. Nobody knows each other and most people want to make friends and get comfortable living at their new accommodation. A good way to show people you want to socialise is by getting a doorstop and keeping your door open. That way whenever people are walking past it’s easier to pop their heads in and have a chat. Knocking on the closed door of a total stranger may seem a bit more nerve-wracking than a casual conversation and this may make people feel more comfortable to chat to you in future run-ins!
Another good way to make yourself seem more approachable is to leave something in the kitchen on the first day everyone moves in. This way, people instantly have something to start off a conversation easily. For example, a friend of mine left a box of chocolates along with a friendly note in the kitchen on move-in day, and he said he felt as though this was a good way to start chatting with minimal awkwardness. Just try not to be scared to make the first move, because chances are that someone wants to make friends and meet new people just as much as you!
Stay true to yourself
Although you might want to make yourself seem approachable and easy to be friends with, you should never compromise your values or boundaries in order to fit in. It is very tempting in the first few weeks to push yourself to your limits to seem easy-going and always up for a laugh, but this may get draining and you’ll burn yourself out. If everyone else is going on a night out for example, but you really want to stay in and have a chill night to yourself – do that! No one will think less of you for this, it’s important to prioritise your physical and mental health over doing something just because you’re worried about missing out or seeming boring. Everybody is different, some people need more time alone and others feel energised when they’re with other people a lot – and that’s okay! You should always honour your own needs.
Visit The DockYard
The DockYard is a new facility introduced by the student’s union. It consists of two outdoor spaces that have been created in order for people to have a space to get to know new house/flatmates in a safe and socially distanced way. The Yard is the space on Singleton and The Dock is on Bay Campus. Both of these offer food and drinks along with a great chance to build bonds with new friends or spend time with friends from previous years after this six-month gap.
Join a society!
Joining a society is the best thing I could’ve done. I gained experience in a topic different to my degree, met lots of new people, and overall had a great time. By joining a society, you will meet lots of people who are interested in doing similar things to you, and it is a good way to find friends outside of your accommodation and lectures. There is a society to suit everyone, whether you’re interested in sports, performing arts, volunteering or something that could help you improve on your course, you’re guaranteed to find a society to fit. A lot of societies will offer taster sessions, so you’ll have the opportunity to try out different ones before investing anything.
Set a budget (and stick to it)
A great way to do this is work out how much money you have after paying for rent and any other financial commitments, and divide this by the number of weeks the money needs to last you to find a weekly spending limit. It can be tempting to spend lots of money during freshers week, but it’s important to think long term too. Of course, go out and have fun as much as you can! However, remember that you don’t want to be stuck with low funds towards the end of the term.
Eat well whenever you are able to
Moving away to uni for a lot of people means looking after themselves for the first time. It might seem like the easy option to eat lots of junk food and drink more alcohol than you’re used to, but it’s good to keep up your health wherever you can. There are shops on campus that offer cheap and healthy food options. It’s worth noting that this may not be the most economical option for some low income students since healthier options can sometimes be more expensive. It could be a good idea to team up with some friends or flatmates to cook together. This way, you’re splitting the cost, building friendships, and looking after yourself.
Take advantage of group chats
Using subject and accommodation group chats can be a great way to get talking to people and find out each other’s interests before meeting, giving you a good starting point for when you do meet! This one can be especially useful to students who are living at home and won’t have the opportunity to meet friends through shared accommodation. You can use the group chats to find out what events people are going to, and from there you can arrange meeting points. It’s a good way to minimise the nerves of meeting up with new people, and helps you contact people you might not have otherwise.
So those are my tips to incoming freshers. I hope they’ve been somewhat helpful. Just remember, everyone is probably feeling the same nerves as you. Take it day by day, and don’t push yourself!