It’s overwhelming – results day, packing and now saying goodbye to everyone. Then all of a sudden you’re alone in your new room thinking, what next?

As you find your way you’ll more than likely make a million and one mistakes.

In the hope of avoiding some of them, here are 10 things you should know before you start…

1. Make Packed Lunch

Despite claiming to be cheap, shops and cafes on campus will add up if you’re spending a few quid every day on lunch. In a single term you could end up spending well over £150 just on lunch!

2. Stay Sane At Freshers’ Fair

You’ll be bombarded with emails from the Curry Appreciation Society for the rest of the year all because you had one moment of weakness and signed up.

3. Tackle The Book Bombardment

Universities often sound out lengthy reading lists telling you to buy every possible text that could ever be possibly useful. If you hang tight and just prepare yourself for the first fortnight or so you can figure out what books you will really need. Also, it’s not a bad idea to invest in a kindle as ebooks are often cheaper.

4. Make Your Room Personal

In those first few weeks especially there’ll be an outbreak of home-sickness. To ease your symptoms cover your noticeboard with photos and posters.

5. Keep A Hidden Fiver

By hiding a fiver in the back of your wallet/phone case you’ll ensure yourself a taxi journey home. No one wants to end up stranded having spent all their cash in the club!

6. Make Extra Food

There’s always the temptation to stop off for some greasy food after a night out but if you’ve got left overs from dinner you’ll be able to save money and be healthier.

7. Bulk Food Shopping

Corner shops are often more expensive than supermarkets so bulk shopping is more cost efficient than picking up bits as you go. Don’t forget to make sure there’s room in the freezer before you buy 10 frozen pizzas.

8. Reference As You Go

There’s nothing worse than finishing an essay and realising you have no idea where all your quotes came from. Cue four hours of scouring the library…

9. Be Organised

Otherwise when it comes to exams you’ll spend the first day re-organising your notes, making no progress and feeling a bit deflated.

10. Be Ready For Fire Alarms

If you were under the impression you’d be subjected to one fire alarm – think again. They happen a lot, especially in the middle of the night. Keep a jumper and some shoes close to your bed to save yourself from freezing.

We asked some belfastvibe readers what they wish they’d known before starting university and we’d like to hear your top tips too. 


Siân Deasy said: “In terms of a practical living make a budget and then draw out the money for every week in cash – that way it’s a lot easier to know how much you’ve got and if you’re overspending which is easily done when you’re buying stuff on your card!

“Definitely find some people on your course to meet up with to study or chat through essay ideas with regularly”


Jack Reid said: “There’s something special about the fact that everybody around you is there because they have been selected for being intelligent and driven. University is like this artificially constructed environment that encourages inspiration and passion, and it’s so exciting.

“I’ve seen people squander that gift by basically just being lazy. You have to get out every day and fill your days with interesting people. Besides, it’s expensive to be at university and to have this perfect space for success served up to you, so don’t waste it.”


Declan Lagan said: “The microwave is your saviour. Don’t throw stuff away, keep it, reheat it and use it as the next day’s meal. That saves so much money when you’re cooking for one.

“I’d also say that you should do everything your halls or Student Union organises for you. Be sociable and friendly and try not to get into cliques too early on as your freshers friends generally won’t be the ones that last the longest.”


Rosie Ellery said: “One of the major things that I wish I’d have been on top of would be keeping a stock of small change for the laundry! Running around campus to get the right coins is no fun… Especially when the only clean clothes you have left are a onesie and odd socks!”


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