This piece is by freelancer Eleanor Langford
It’s really happening, you’re flying the nest and heading off for your first term at university. It’s a day you’ve been thinking about for years and years.
Excited, nervous, confused – there are all the emotions you might be feeling. But, you won’t be feeling unprepared. Why? Because you read this article and got all your stuff in order before you set off, ofc.
Now, you’re relaxed and ready to face new challenges with all your life admin in check. There’s no better feeling than being organized, right? Here’s your University checklist…
1. Sort your student bank account
You’re a fully-fledged university student now, it’s time to get a bank account to match. But, what’s the point in a student account? Won’t my old bank account do the trick? Well, student accounts come with a number of perks not available with regular accounts, and you may be very thankful for them later. On top of a 0% overdraft, you can also snatch great offers like a free 4-year railcard and free Amazon Prime.
Make sure to shop around a few bank accounts so you’re sure you’re getting the best deal, don’t just stick with your current account down the street. Check Money Saving Expert’s guide here.
2. Budget, budget, and budget some more
Ugh, budgets. I bet your mum has asked you to get your finances in order, or maybe your teacher. As boring as they sound, though, it is super important to make sure you’ve got your money under control before you set off.
If you plan to use Student Finance, you should have it sorted by now (otherwise, get applying for that ASAP). Once you’re sure of how much you’re getting, sit down and check you’ve got enough money to last you the year. Here is a great guide to creating a student budget - it sounds dull, but you don’t want to be the guy sat at home eating pot noodles alone because you can’t afford real food…
3. Insure that gadget
It’s the 21st Century and we LOVE our gadgets. Laptops, smartphones, tablets – they’re crucial to have in working order, as a student.
Up until now, you may have let your parents worry about small things like gadget insurance, or maybe you don’t have any at all. But, trust me, the last thing you want is to have a broken laptop a fortnight before exams (speaking from experience, it’s really not fun). Plus, keeping in touch with your friends from home and Facetiming your cat is going to be a lot harder with a smashed-up phone.
Get those electronics covered against blow-ups and breaks, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing you won’t be laptop-less when you need it most.
4. Nab a bus pass
Regardless of where you are living at university, you’re going to need to get around somehow. Taking your car? Great, just make sure you know where you can park it, and be sure to tell the insurance company that you’re moving. Otherwise, check out what bus passes and railcards are available in your area.
Your university may even have special deals for its student, so see what information they have. It’s so nice not having to worry about bus singles or train tickets when you’re rushing to your 9 am lecture.
And, the savings you can get from passes/railcards are pretty huge and could be the difference between affording that Glastonbury ticket or trip to Ibiza next year.
5. Find yourself a doctor
Again, your mum probably sorted this for you. Well, now it’s your turn. Research your new local doctor’s surgery and find out how to get registered NOW, don’t wait until you get sick!
It’s also worth checking in with your old surgery before you go and checking you’re all set on any vaccinations and medications you might need. Your teeth still need to be checked, too, so find yourself a good dentist in the area whilst you’re at it. Prescriptions, physiotherapy, anything else you might need – get it sorted before you go!
6. Get to know your flat
Now you know where you’re living, shouldn’t you know who you’re living with? Universities often have social media groups where you can seek out your future flatmates if they haven’t gotten you in touch already. Talk to them, as you’ll have to get to know them at some point.
You can chat about who’s bringing the kettle so you don’t end up with four. On that topic, find out what you have, or don’t have, in your digs before you go to save you an unneeded trip to Ikea upon arrival.
I watched at least four people turn up on our first day at university with king-sized bedding for their tiny single beds. And, no, not everywhere has an ironing board.
7. Remember your bills
Are your household bills included in your rent? If no, now’s the time to shop around for the best deal and organize how you’ll be splitting the costs with your housemates. It’ll save a lot of arguments and awkwardness a few months down the line.
A lot of student accommodation says ‘all bills included’, but check what this actually means before you go. Things like your TV License often aren’t included, and you’ll need one if you want to keep up with Strictly this year.
8. Fill your new home
You’re home away from home is going to be pretty bleak if you don’t have some things to put in it. The first step, get the essentials like duvets and pillows. Now you’re ready to think about your style and what you want your little palace to look like. Pick up some cool posters, print out pictures of friends, buy a rug – whatever you need to make your space a place you want to be. If you’re too lazy to get all this together, this amazing company does bedroom boxes with everything you need!
9. Get cooking
You think it’s a myth that students can’t cook until a girl in your flat asks you how to boil water (no really, this happened). Whether you’re MasterChef-grade or a complete beginner, however, it’s worth grabbing a few cookbooks before you go for some tasty inspiration. Why no practice a few dishes on your friends and family?
Cheesy pasta will get boring by term one, so it’s good to have a few recipes up your sleeve. Now is also the time to make sure you’ve got all the pesky bits you need for a delicious dinner – vegetable peeler, garlic press, colander, etc.
10. “Does anyone have a pen?”
I hate to say it, but you may have to study a little bit whilst you’re at university. Check your reading list and make sure you have all the boring books you’ll need to get you that top grade. Oh, and don’t be that kid that turns up to every lecture empty handed and bothers his neighbours asking for paper.
Stock up on stationery, and don’t be afraid to get creative. Think crazy colours and funky pen lids. You could the envy of every seminar with your fantastic selection of highlighters.
11. Get packing
It’s never too early, and you don’t want to leave it too late. Time to get packing. Get yourself some moving boxes and start cleaning out your room because IT’S NEARLY TIME! The real heartbreaker is decided what you’ll be leaving behind. Ask yourself, do you really need a futon and fourteen cushions? Plus, the earlier you start the more time you’ll have to remember what you’ve forgotten.
The car was fully loaded and I was ready to go before I remembered I’d left my chopping boards in the cupboard – and it was four weeks in before I realised I never packed a cheese grater.
12. Student discount memberships
Don’t forget to sign up to UNiDAYS. Anyone at college, university, or sixth form can get more while spending. You can also buy your NUS Extra card and enjoy 200 UK discounts and over 42,000 international discounts. Other sites like Student Beans and Save the Student also advertise free gifts and perks for students, and are completely free to access.
Why pay full price for anything again whilst studying?!
13. Get excited! YOU’RE GOING TO UNI!
Restaurants, nightlife, tourist spots – time to start looking up everything awesome about your new home. You’ll be the envy of your new friends with your inside knowledge of the coolest spots in town. You can also look up what amazing societies your university has on offer, and decide which are the ones for you. From running clubs to Taylor Swift societies, there’ll bound to be something that suits your interests. University is going to be full of so many amazing things, and it’s only right to get super excited about all this and more before you go! YAAAAAAY!
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