Living away from home
What are you expecting from university life? What you’re looking forward to and what you’re most nervous about might well be the same thing – the prospect of living independently, in a new home. So what can you do to help yourself settle in?
University living – 10 top tips
University means freedom, and independence – it’s an exciting prospect, but it has its challenges. In a whole new world of opportunities, a little homesickness and anxiety isn’t uncommon. If you’re moving away from close friends, family, or partners, some nerves are natural. At Nottingham Trent University (NTU), we work hard to keep our new students as comfortable as possible – but there’s things you can do for yourself, to ease the transition.
Bring a bit of home with you
Whether it’s a picture, a stuffed toy, or that sweater you only wear in private – have something to hand that reminds you of home. In those first weeks, a little familiarity goes a long way.
Do what you love, and keep yourself busy
Sitting in your room wondering what your friends and family are doing is a recipe for homesickness. Be brave, and throw yourself into NTU’s Welcome Week events. If you’re passionate about something, find a society, and join up – whether it’s a sport, an instrument, or an appreciation group. Our societies are a great way to meet new people with similar interests, and a ready-made icebreaker.
Balance your time between NTU and home
If you’re feeling lonely or stressed, a phone call home is normally the first port of call. There’s nothing wrong with seeking the support of friends and family, but try to stick around Nottingham – speak with your new friends, and see how they’re doing. You’ll have more in common with them than you realise. University’s your new life – commit to it from the outset, and you’ll reap the rewards.
Keep asking questions
Trust us on this – you won’t be the only person who doesn’t know how to iron, or whether that chicken’s still okay to eat. University’s as much a social education as an academic one – you’ll be learning from the first day of your course, to the last. And if you’re really too embarrassed to ask, consult YouTube!
Keep track of your time
You’re independent, and living life on your terms – the sense of freedom is exciting, but it comes with responsibilities. At university, you’ll be cooking, cleaning and shopping for yourself – potentially, for the first time ever. Nobody will make you go to your lectures, and nobody’s going to stop you playing video games for 10 hours a day – they won’t clean your clothes or keep you healthy, either. Take your freedom seriously, and make sure that you’re working to a schedule.
Know your way around a kitchen
You are what you eat – takeaways will quickly take a toll on your body, and your budget. Come to NTU with some quick, cheap, and tasty recipes to hand – you’ll be the hero of your halls, and you’ll enjoy the financial rewards. Plan your meals for the week, and freeze your leftovers. With hundreds of student-focussed recipe sites online, there’s really no excuse not to eat healthily.
Keep to a budget
No matter what your bank tells you – that overdraft won’t stay bottomless and interest-free forever. Maintenance loans are there to cover your living costs – not to sponsor a shopping binge, or a three-day drinking session. Nobody can tell you how to spend your money, but once it’s gone, it’s gone. So set up a budget from the beginning – make sure you’ve got the costs of rent, utility bills and food covered, as they’re your priority. Know what you’re spending, and try to stay disciplined. Steer clear of PayDay loans, or other quick cash schemes – if you’re in a tight spot,NTU's financial support service will help you find a constructive, long-term solution.
Being ill as a student can be hard – there’s nobody to look after you, and no family medicine box to raid. So keep some basic cures to hand, and don’t just wait to get ill. Make sure you’ve got paracetamol, aspirin, cough medicine and plasters all within easy reach. At NTU’s enrolment sessions, you’ll have the chance to register with a doctor – you should find yourself a dentist, too.
Know your way around Nottingham
Do your research on where you are, and where you’ll be going. Nottingham’s a small city, and the public transport provision is excellent. At enrolment, Nottingham City Transport reps will have details on student offers, and subsidised travel. For taxi travel on nights out, stick to licenced firms – any driver should be willing to give you an estimate of the fair, up-front. The Students’ Union has details on the city’s most reputable and popular companies.
Don’t forget – everyone else is in the same boat
If you’re feeling lonely, anxious, or out of sorts, remember that you’re not alone. The transition to student life is tough on everyone – even the campus kings and queens aren’t as confident as they seem. A little bit of homesickness is inevitable – it’s more a matter of responding to those feelings constructively, and being brave.