10 first year survival tips

Your first year at university is an exciting and scary time. There are a lot of things you have to learn yourself (like the value of washing dishes regularly), and that is one of the most important things about your first year on your own. But there is also a lot of advice out there that you just know will make your life easier without having to test it, so sit back and take our advice.

1. Just go up and talk to people

Everyone is in the same boat you are: they don’t know many people (if any), and they will likely welcome any conversation. And you probably already have things to talk about, like the class you share, how hard it is to find stuff on campus, or where the best bars are.

2. Keep cooking simple

You may feel a bit lost when it comes to planning meals on a budget, but there are many options available to you. Pasta recipes tend to be great for students because the meals are filling, easy and quick whilst the ingredients are cheap.

3. Trade talents

This is a great way to get things for free. If you know how to fix a computer, hang curtains, tune a guitar, teach Spanish or just about anything, you can do it in exchange for dinner or for that person helping you with something. That way, you save money whilst doing someone a favour.

4. Don’t take your cards out when drinking

To make sure you don’t spend too much money, just take cash out with you. That way, you can’t spend more than you’ve allocated for the evening.
5. Eating is NOT cheating

Don’t let anyone tell you it is. Eating before a night out is the best way to make sure you don’t get embarrassingly drunk. For a great meal before going out, try Greek food. Greek recipes can be filling and give you lasting energy, without having that many calories. Well, certainly fewer than that kebab you’d otherwise get.

6. Learn how to take notes

You’ll be taught how to write essays and theses, but you likely won’t take a course in how to take notes. Make use of notes the lecturer provides, and add detail if he or she stresses a point. Use abbreviations (even if you make them up) that you’ll understand later to make writing notes faster. That way, you can pay more attention to what the lecturer is saying.

7. Listen to instead music online instead of buying it

You probably listen to Spotify or Last.fm anyway, but you can save money on CDs or downloads by listening to your music online. If you love having music on your MP3 player, you can always make wish lists on Amazon.

8. See your tutor as a professional ally

Tutors may seem unapproachable or busy, but they are there to help you with your studies. Ask them for concrete feedback on your work, as well as advice to improve your work. Also, talk to them about issues that may affect your work. They often take into account outside issues when grading your work.

9. Make use of herbs and spices

Herbs and spices are themselves pretty expensive, but a little spice can make a dish consisting of cheap cuts of meat and veg that is on offer a tasty way to save money. Indian recipes use spice really well, and you can substitute almost any kind of meat and veg in the recipe to make use of cheap ingredients.
10. Join a society to make friends

The great thing about societies is that they are groups of people who are interested in things you like. It’s an easy way to meet people with whom you have something in common. Plus, societies are subsidised by the student union, so you can often get discounts on trips or budgets for parties.

Hopefully you’ll find this advice useful, but remember that the best thing about your first year is learning how to get on in life on your own and on your own terms. Good luck!

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