Uni know-how: Preparing for uni
As kids, we tend to think that literally anyone out of high school is a real full-grown human who knows exactly what they’re doing with their lives. Unfortunately, many of you are experiencing just how much of a farce that was as you prepare for your very first year of university.
You may be moving out of home, out of your city, even sometimes your country. To make matters worse, you really don’t know what it is you need to know before taking this step into another phase of your life. You bitterly realise that you greatly overestimated how much life you would have figured out by now and really still just want your mum to book your doctors appointments.
Our first instalment in our uni know-how series is gonna take it from the top. Before we get into balance, and attendance, and trying not to commit crimes against your flatmates who scream like a banshee at 2 am, we’ll be getting into preparing for the big move.
So, take a seat, get comfortable, while we explain all the things to consider before deciding what to take on your journey into uni.
What to take
If you’re thinking of packing up your entire room and jamming it into one of those tiny halls of residence rooms, we’re gonna stop you right there.
If you’re planning on going flatting and are doing the same thing, we’re also going to ask you to pause.
Carting everything you own to university is not a great idea for a myriad of reasons:
- That’s a lot of admin
- Everyone will be moving in on the same day if you’re in a hall, make it easy for yourself
- Your high school aesthetic may not be the tone you’re trying to strike at uni. But hey, you do you
As far as the important things go, think of the important items that you use on a regular basis and the non-negotiables (e.g. underwear is mandatory, we hope). Further, think of the things you enjoy doing. If you play the guitar, you take that guitar. However, if it’s more a decorative piece used to trick guests into thinking you can play an instrument, it’s probably not worth taking.
While this sounds obvious, we’d be shocked at the amount of things we look at in our room every day that we haven’t touched in months. Tap into your inner Marie Kondo when packing for uni, and ask if what you’re taking sparks joy.
In saying that, you also don’t want to go too far in the other direction and realise you’ve missed a lot of important things. Many of us take going to university as a chance to transform ourselves and become the people that our small suburban town would not allow. That’s all well and dandy, but just ensure the necessities are covered first.
If you’re into decorating and want to make your living space feel more like you, think of small, easy things you can take. A good example of these are plants, art or things to hang on the wall, and desk junk (desk junk naturally accumulates, just accept it now).
There is no right or wrong list of things you should take with you on your university journey. Take what you need and think about how all your stuff would theoretically fit into a small room that has a wardrobe, desk, some shelves, and a very lacklustre single bed.
Mental preparation for the year ahead is probably less thought of in comparison to all the stuff you’re tossing up taking with you but is super important in the long-run.
Whether you’re flatting or moving into a halls of residence, you’re going to have a huge shift from your current lifestyle. This isn’t always bad, but it’s something to think about.
It’s likely that this will be one of your first years in being able to decide almost everything for yourself. No one is going to tell you when to go to sleep or wake up. No one is going to tell you when to eat, and no one is going to force you to go to your lectures. It’s up to you.
To prepare for this, you could make a plan of how you would like to manage yourself. Creating your own daily routine can be difficult to crack, but is really the holy grail of tertiary study once you have it.
If your timetable is already available, look at your lecture times and think about the best way to plan your day around them. Once you’re into it, try to book your tutorials between lectures, so that your days aren’t as spaced out and you don’t have to go to and from uni 3 times a day. If you have free time during the day, could you carve out some regular independent study sessions? Probably.
The way you build your days is pivotal in creating a regular routine and your ability to maintain the plan you set out. Bear in mind, it’s all up to you.
A second thing to consider in mentally preparing for uni is how social you are. It’s very easy to dip into a friend’s room for what you think will be a 20-minute conversation, only to leave 3 hours later instead.
It takes a lot of mental effort to sit yourself down and commit to things like your study when you know your friends are up to shenanigans in the next room. Allow yourself time to be social, build friendships, and make good memories, but remember why you’re there in the first place.
FOMO is a very real thing in halls of residence, so training yourself to do the mahi before getting the treats is an incredibly useful skill.
While you make a lot of great friends and memories in the first year, it’s also important to bear in mind that you’re likely to also meet people you’ll clash with. This is okay and perfectly normal, but you may need to exercise some tolerance before going into communal living. While it will be your home, it will be everyone else’s as well.
Sometimes you have to put up with people playing cricket in the hallway outside of your room at 1am. It’s all just part of the experience. You may even be that person, in which case, please don’t yell too loud, people are trying to sleep.
There are lots of small things to consider before getting into flatting or the halls. A good example is washing clothing.
A lot of people hoard their gold coins in anticipation for that niggly $2 wash and $2 dry.
Here’s a tip: Wash your stuff when you notice you only have one or two pairs of socks left, not when you’re completely out. It’s too late at that point. We promise.
Other small things are like having a small food budget or some staples you always want to keep in your room. It is very bold to assume that just because you’re in a catered hall that you won’t spend any money on food. You will spend more on those $1 frozen cokes than you’ll care to admit.
Small food purchases here-and-there quickly add up. So, give yourself a wee allowance each week and keep an eye on it because it’s all fun and games until you realise you can’t pay your next hall instalment.
A pill that needs to be swallowed before going to uni is that some things are going to have to be sacrificed. The cozy family home you’re likely coming from isn’t comparable to some student living conditions. It may be the quality of food, general convenience, or even the quality of the bed you sleep on.
Going out on your own is going to be a compromise at first. It’s all a part of the experience. Some people get really into the nasty-student stereotype but that doesn’t have to be you (if you don’t want), you just have to know the things you’re willing to compromise on and be a bit more careful. Basically, just don’t expect to live like you did at home.
Expect the unexpected
We’ve covered some general areas in preparing for uni, but the most important thing is to practice resilience and expect the unexpected.
Things are going to happen that you have no control over (e.g. having your common room flooded by the bathroom on the floor above) that are really not worth getting too worked up over.
A students’ threshold for what is normal and not is usually a lot more generous than that of a normal person. Control what you can, but know when things aren’t worth your time.
University is a whirlwind of an experience and opens you up to so many new people, ideas, and ways of life. It’s an opportunity to learn from others and figure yourself out as well.
You’ll probably never feel like you’re fully prepared to go to uni, in the same way you probably thought high school would be scary. It will take time to adjust, but you will quickly gain more confidence and before you know it, you won’t even be able to remember doing anything else.
Good luck, you’ve got this.