So, you’ve come to university, and you are on your own for the first time, potentially in your life.
This article is going to give you the basics you can follow to ensure a productive, organised and fun experience surviving living independently for the first time!
Step number one
Set up a bank account.
You are going to have to pay rent and receive your student loan money, and/or money from your job. This should be done before coming to university or as early as possible to avoid hold ups with your first loan payment.
Step number two
Buy the things you need to take into student accommodation.
Check ahead, but usually a kettle, fridge, microwave and that sort of thing is provided. What is not provided is cutlery, a drying rack, tea towels etc.
My advise? Don’t bring these things to university with you. (Yet)
Hear me out. If every one of the 10 people sharing your kitchen comes to uni with fresh kitchen gear for your shared kitchen, you are all going to end up with 100 forks, 8 kettles, 40 tea towels and 80 plates. These will not fit in your kitchen and you will end up harbouring a kitchen’s worth of equipment in your bedroom. There is no space in student bedrooms anyway, so this is not an ideal scenario!
So, the best thing to do will be holding off until the day you get there, so that you and your flatmates can all sit down and evaluate what you need. That way, you don’t end up in a mountain of cutlery shoved at the back of your wardrobe, and you can all split the cost of what is left. Plus, you are definitely ordering pizza your first night at university anyway, so don’t stress about not having cutlery!
Tip number three
Following on from the fear of bringing too many kitchen utensils to fit, do not bring too much stuff to university with you!
It is so tempting to pack every single thing you own into the car and drive your whole life with you to your new room. But I promise you this is a mistake. Take it from me, I packed everything and the kitchen sink, and believe me. Stuff accumulates stuff. So, do yourself a favour and once you have packed the car, half it.
Think of it this way. The more clothes you pack, the more washing you have to do, which means more money spent on those ridiculously expensive washing machines!
You will want to buy things like decorations once you get to university. Bring 2 duvet covers and change them out accordingly. Bring one set of stationary and buy as needed. Don’t bring a printer unless you print out a lot for personal use. A, you won’t have the space and B, you are going to print everything out at university anyway! Plus, campus bookshops tend to produce pretty cheap notebooks, and they are branded which feels pretty cool in first year.
Tip number four
Learn how to cook for yourself!
Even if it is just simple meals like throwing together an omelette, or a pasta meal, you will save so much money in the long run if you don’t order in every night! Also, cooking is healthier than constant microwave meals. Plus, learning to cook while you are a student means that you will have a new skill for the rest of your life! Here is a grocery list to get started if you are new to shopping independently.
Tip – Throw some chicken in a slow cooker and cook it on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Then, throw in a jar of curry sauce for the last 30 minutes, add a microwave rice, and boom! Chicken curry!
Picking up a slow cooker is going to be the best thing you do at university! Shove some meat in it in the morning, and dinner is cooked by the time you get back from classes! Minimum effort and really tasty food! What could be better? Crock pots also make a great, no effort stew.
Tip number Five
Register with the university doctor and dentist. This one is a must, because you will want to have finished the paperwork the first time you need a doctors appointment! So, make sure you bring appropriate forms such as Identification and a letter with your name and current address, so that you can sign up on the first day.
This is especially important if you take medication, because you will want to make that first appointment in good time to get repeat prescriptions. Or if you have ongoing medical concerns which you need to see a doctor about.
It is also worth sourcing your local pharmacy.
Let’s be real for a second. Your local pharmacy is not just important for solutions to cold and flu. This should be your first port of call for condoms, sexual health advice, and even somewhere that can dispense the morning after pill if ever needed. So, find out where your local pharmacy is and note the opening times.
Tip number six
This is a difficult, more serious thing I wanted to touch on. It’s not fun to talk about, but It is necessary to take precautions when living alone. I am not trying to scare you, I am just trying to be real with you and keep you safe. So, if you only take one thing away with you from this article, please make it this.
Keep yourself safe at university.
This goes for not walking alone at night, to practising safe sex. You are going to be surrounded by new people. Which is amazing! But you need to make sure you make the right choices.
I don’t care what gender you are, do not walk home alone at night. Make sure you always have a phone on you, and even with friends stick to light, busy areas.
Don’t go to meet a stranger without someone else there. And if you are going to do it, meet with a friend and in a public area during the day. Don’t be alone with the person until you know them well and trust them. But no matter who you are with, always let someone know where you are.
Always watch your drinks. Most bars provide special bottle caps which make spiking drinks harder. Always stand with someone when they buy you one.
Bottom line, please stay aware that you are living independently now and that means taking good care of yourself. I know this is probably not the advice you wanted to here when you clicked on this article, but your safety is important, so please do keep yourself out of danger.
Lead writer for The Lazzzy Student x
If you have any more tips, please leave them in the comments. Today’s question is, ‘What was your favourite thing about living alone for the first time, and what did you take you ended up not needing? ‘