The first day of University is as exciting as it is daunting. Make sure you bring things to give your room your own special touch, pictures of family and friends are always a good idea.
The best thing I brought with me when moving into halls was a pack of cards. On the first night we played drinking games with them which helped break the ice and get to know each other. We also spent hours-on-end playing 21 and rummy with a cheeky cuppa to cure our hangovers.
Moving to uni is a big thing, Hywel, a BEng (Hons) Electrical and Electronic Engineering student, shares his thoughts to help you settle quickly into your new surroundings!
1. Know in advance where you are going. Google Maps is your best source of information for a first time visitor to the UK. After that, the use of National Rail app (for trains), Megabus UK or National Express websites (for buses), and traveline.cymru(for travel in and around Wales) will be quite useful.
2. If you are an international student arriving in Cardiff International Airport, contact the IISA days beforehand for a free taxi service from the airport to Treforest.
3. If you come into the country in groups (and I know some students do that because they come from the same education agency), it is best to settle accommodation in advance.
4. Have a look around for the nearest grocery store for basic necessities, or superstore for long-term needs. Within five miles of Treforest Campus, you should find a Sainsbury's, a Tesco Direct, a Tesco Extra, a Lidl, and Iceland, and a B&M.
5. Be sure to attend International Welcome Programme to get to know more about the community, the services that they could find in and around their campuses, and meet GAs that will guide them well.
Tips, tricks and bits:
1. Go to freshers’ fair and get as many freebies as possible
So…first week is just great, absolutely great. Why? I ate for free a week straight (lunch and dinner) at different places around Cardiff and got a bunch of free stuff, from goodies to gig tickets and free drinks (lots of them). My first week consisted of going to uni, grabbing vouchers and looking slightly disinterested so they hopefully don’t recognize me the next day. Although at one point I realized there is no shame, you’re a student now, go for it.
2. For your well-being, please make a cleaning schedule for your house
One of my biggest mistakes I did when I started uni was thinking that people actually clean after themselves… oh.. I was such a fool. Can’t believe I actually had the audacity to think that people care about their surroundings as much as I did. No, when you first get to your new lovely home, do yourself a favour and propose your housemates with a cleaning schedule you should all make the effort to sort of respect? Maybe you’re one of those people who doesn’t care that much, maybe you just spend a lot of time in your room and don’t care about the rest of the house, but a decently clean house never hurt anyone, right? You live together now, try to cooperate, be a good housemate - don’t steal food or washing up liquid and try to clean your crumbs lol.
3. ALWAYS back up your work
We all know how everyone stresses this, but back up your essays, projects, presentations and everything else. Just save everything on your Dropbox or invest in a portable hard drive and save your work there or save it on your Google Drive, there are so many ways you can do this now. Nothing’s worse than your laptop crashing the day before a deadline (happened to me this year) and then having to write EVERYTHING in less than 24 hours. Genuinely one of most stressful things you can probably experience… and you know that uni deadlines are not flexible in any way. Back up your work! It’s sooooo important!
4. Don’t live off noodles and take-away food
I know, I know… How can you be a student and eat healthy at the same time? A bit of an overstretch, ey? Doesn’t have to be… Eating healthy and sticking to a plan when it comes to buying your weekly food will save you money - yes, money, eating healthy is not THAT expensive (will soon do a post or vlog on this). Your overall mood will be better and you’ll just feel more alive to be honest. My first semester wasn’t the healthiest period ever, I even got ill after my assessment period because my eating habits were terrible - don’t do this. It was definitely a wake-up call, eating good fresh food keeps you balanced and most importantly: healthy.
5. You probably have an accent aaaaand people will notice it
If you’re an international student, do prepare for the questions, banter and occasional confusion you create around you. I’ve had people asking me where I’m from several times a day - from people that thought my accent is American, to those who thought I’m Canadian and even the ones that actually figured my slight Eastern European accent. First comments you usually get when you’re from Romania are ‘Transylvania, Dracula, right?’ or ‘So do you speak Russian?’. Just think of something everyone thinks they know about the country you come from - that is what you’re going to get almost every time. Don’t take it too personally, people are just trying to make friends when they’re freshers and are usually just curious to be honest.
Having travelled four hours to get to University with a boot full of stuff, I was a mix of nerves and excitement. After unpacking my room I was scared to speak to the rest of my flat in case I didn’t fit in. With a push from my parents and armed with a box of Celebrations chocolate I went and knocked on each door to introduce myself. This simple ice breaker led to us all going into the kitchen and having a few drinks while getting to know each other.
Before arriving, I joined the Freshers' Facebook Group to start talking to people. This made my first lectures easier as a group of us arranged to meet and walk in together - no awkwardness trying to find someone to sit next to.
Head to the Freshers’ Fair and see what’s on offer. During my first week, I signed up to the Japanese, Anime & Manga society. They quickly got me involved in ice-breaker games and out of my flat meeting new people. Being part of the society helped me develop a social circle really quickly.
I got to experience the facilities around the regions, from the bars, shops and places to eat. They also offered lots of trips to a variety of places and conventions. I met so many through joining and went on to be the society President for two years, which has been a great addition to my CV!
Sophie recently graduated from BSc (Hons) Medical Sciences. Here are her top tips for all first years about to start university!
Caitlin is a student on BA (Hons) Primary Studies with QTS. In this video she gives you tips and talks you through the process of arriving at university from how you register and enrol to what happens during freshers!
My advice is to wander around and get lost - whether it's in the woods around Treforest or Cardiff city centre! Explore the area you are going to spend the next three or more years - but I would take a map just in case! Also, bring biscuits or better still, a home-made cake. Nothing breaks the ice better with your new housemates than food.
Dan has a student blog with more tips and interesting stories about his time at USW, check out his Tumblr and vlogs here.