Becoming a student can be hard as it is not all as glamorous as it seems. The new-found freedom students are given can be exciting - but it can sometimes be a difficult thing to get used to. Trying to do things the first time by yourself can be intimidating. However I have come up with a list of seven things that no one tells you about being a student to help guide you before you descend into university life.
Cooking for yourself is hard
When you finally move out you’re faced with making your own food. It is exciting to begin with, especially as your mum and dad will leave you a full fridge (or shelf as that’s the most room you’ll get). However you won’t be having those home-cooked meals anymore, and it can be hard trying to make anything but Super Noodles. This can worsen when you are a few months down the line and you end up ‘borrowing’ food from your flatmates hoping they won’t notice - promising yourself you’ll give it back but you never will. The freedom you have when shopping alone is reckless, as you can buy literally anything including cakes, chocolate, crisps...basically anything your mum wouldn't’ let you have. A bit of practice is always good before university, so get your mum and dad to show you the basics. Don’t be like me as I lived off fajita packs and got so good that after nights out at 5am I would make the speciality for my mates. I don’t think I can look at another fajita wrap again.
Being broke, like seriously broke
Although there is a student loan it can be hard to restrict yourselves to a budget, but with over £1,000 just sitting in your bank account, it would be rude not to spend it. However if there’s one thing I know about students is that we’re always skint. Was it a good choice going out and spending £20 on some alcohol? Probably not but there are priorities. At the time it seems like we can survive, however it’s not as easy as it seems. In time you will become a master at getting a two-week shop under £30. It is a particular skill only students have. Don’t feel embarrassed about not being able to go on a night out, chances are your mates can’t afford it either. That's why flat parties are always a good idea - all you need is a little alcohol and your mates, and they usually turn out better than a night out.
Having no motivation is OK
Everyone has those days when they cannot bring themselves to get out of bed to drag themselves to a lecture where they just aren’t taking anything in. The beauty of being at university is that it is OK to have a day off. Obviously don’t take advantage and have weeks off - but a day or two is always OK. Try and regain your motivation and don’t just wallow in your room all day, as that will make you feel worse. Get out in the world and do something nice for yourself.
Keep in touch at home
This is very important. You may be caught up in the madness of all your friends and nights out but your family miss you too. Just a text or a call to catch up with them will be enough to let them know you’re OK. For a lot of students this will be the first time living away from home so be thoughtful of your parents as they will miss you or get lonely without you. Try and meet up with them if you can and even invite them down to where your university is.
There is a lot of alcohol
There is a lot of partying whilst you’re at university and whether you drink or not, you will be surrounded by alcohol and drunk people. You will be a master at ring of fire as you’ll know what each card means and you will become accustomed to hearing the ‘we like to drink’ song. There are many different games you learn through drinking. You will also consume immense amounts of alcohol as you will be expected to down drinks left right and centre. You will find there are different types of drinkers: ones who can go through crates of beer like its nothing; wine drinkers who sip on the stuff like its water; the elite drinkers who decide to mix all different kinds of alcohol to make an odd concoction, which tastes horrid but they have no problem necking it. Beware of the ‘shotters’ these drinkers will visit you every five minutes if they spot that you aren’t drunk enough and make you do five shots in a row (I was one of these - I needed everyone to be on my level).
Being healthy is so hard
I was determined at uni that I would try plan my meals and have a healthy diet. That lasted five minutes. There is no winning especially when all you can afford is Pot Noodles or rice. Even if you have a fridge full of fruit and veg there is no way you’ll be touching it if there’s a big bar of chocolate on the same shelf. I accepted defeat and didn’t eat healthily until January as I wanted to enjoy the first few months. The drink doesn’t help either as you cannot say no to a cheeky bev as much as you want to; healthy eating is near impossible when you are partying hard.
This is a common feeling at univesity and one I am very familiar with. Even though you are living in student accomodation, it is not the same as being at home. You don’t have that constant company which comes from your parents and siblings. It can be difficult having this feeling but it is important to remember that there are people in the room next to you, in the kitchen and a facetime or call away. There is never any reason to feel lonely as there are always people there to support you - and sometimes it’s good to be reminded about this.
By Fionnuala McNulty follow me on Twitter @FionnualaMcnult