Saturday, 1 September 2012

University Advice...

Hello! I posted almost this exact thing a year ago but am sure it will still come in handy (I hope!) So here goes...grab a cuppa and some biccies and get ready for quite a bit of reading!

It comes to this time of year again when people disappear off to uni and start new beginnings. As I am someone that has had my three years at uni (and going back-eek!), I thought what would be better than to tell people about my experience along with advice and what to expect!

The Beginning:

When I said I wanted to go to university I think everyone (especially my family) were quite shocked. I have alwaysss been someone that loves home, and although I enjoyed going to people's houses and on holidays with others etc, home is where I'm used to. I knew I wanted to do something different though and decided on uni. However, leading up to going to uni, I cried and cried and cried. I thought I had made a HUGE mistake in deciding to go and the weeks leading up to September everyone assumed I'd last just 5minutes and be on my way home again. Nevertheless, I did what I'd heard other people doing and what UCAS advised, and joined a site called yougofurther 
Through this site, I could search for people at my uni, in my halls etc and quite quickly found people. Do not get disheartened if you can't find many / any though as I now know lots didn't..I suppose I was just lucky. This is where I met my flatmate and now one of my best friends Zara. She was on my course and living in my flat, so felt like I had already made a friend before I started.


Once arriving in Leeds, I was sooo nervous! I am always so shy in front of new people but one thing I would advise is even if you're quiet, make sure you talk. People are feeling exactly the same as you, they just express it in different ways. I was quite surprised.. although I felt homesick, I didn't cry and sit in my room all of the time, and I am glad about that. I just thought what's the point...mum had told me to at least try it out until christmas else you'll never have a proper experience of it. This is true. I know people that quit way before christmas, within a month infact. People are still just getting to know one another then so there is no way you'll have a proper idea on if you'd like it or not. (Just my opinion.)

Decorating my room with photos of people at home and things that just brought a smile to my face definitely made me happier. Just make sure in the first few weeks, you keep yourself busy. That is key. No one wants to be friends with someone that just sits in their room with the door closed acting as though they don't want any friends. People can only do so much to help. A huge piece of advice I would give is stay strong. Just try to be confident even if you don't feel it inside. Prop your door open so that people can just pop their head in to say hi..this is how lots of friends were made in my halls! Chances are, people you have met will have met other people and this is how everyone generally gets introduced.

My little room :)

This was my board getting more & more full of photos during uni..but I had quite a few there to begin with to smile at :)

Here it is broken down...

Freshers Week:

Is just like a holiday and will be the best week of your life if you just relax and enjoy it. Yes, you spend a lot of money, but you have fun! (Or at least make sure you do!) You will end up spending hours getting ready for nights out, pre-drinking and having fun and games, then going out, getting some food on the way back home, getting to bed about 3 at the earliest and sleeping for most of the next day...possibly fit some shopping in to the day time and some kind of fast food / takeaway (both of which I did far too much of!!)

I remember my brother going off to uni last year and him saying to me, "isn't it awkward introducing yourself though?!" Yes and no...obviously it's a bit forced as everyone is saying it, but you get very used to asking and hearing, "What's your name?", "Where do you come from?" "Where are you living?" "What are you studying?"...

The main advice I would give anyone about Freshers Week is just TALK. I tried my hardest not to be shy and to make friends although I felt so so nervous! These are the first couple of weeks that people are making their friends and will be the easiest weeks to do so as everyone is in the same position.

First year freshers tops we had made!
(L-R Zara my flatmate, Zainab, me, Kayla and Bev)
First year freshers (L-R) Oceana, School Girls fancy dress, Gatecrasher, Halo, Chilli Whites UV night, first night out ever in Leeds! (How young do I look?!) x


When I went to university, I began a long distance relationship. This lasted for the first year, but due to reasons not to do with me being at uni, it ended. I then began a new relationship which was also long distance with my current boyfriend, Liam. He was at home for a bit of the first few months together and then moved to Manchester to start uni for himself. Although Manchester is a lot closer to Leeds, it is still an hour away and still what I would class as a long distance relationship. Yes, we were lucky and saw each other a lot more than other couples I know, but it was still every weekend, or every other weekend we saw one another. 

Every relationship takes work, but these kinds of relationships take a lot more work. A lot of people say that long distance relationships don't last, they certainly do if you want them to and if you try hard enough. I am not at all saying that they're easy..infact, they're the opposite. It's very tough when the times you're free to call, they're busy, when they're making new friends and are out in evenings and you just want someone to chat to. You just need to communicate as frequently as possible, even if this means planning times when you're both free. Skype and MSN (as old school as it is) were my best friends! Trust plays a huge part in this too, if you don't 100% trust your partner, things are not going to go smoothly. But whatever you do, please do not worry. It is just the two of you important in your relationship and if you both want it to work, it will. Ignore what others say :)


As soon as you move out, money plays a huge part in your life. It sounds silly but I never realised quite how expensive things I took for granted cost in the long run. I certainly didn't realise how much Mum and Dad spend on what I think are pretty standard things for me and my brother! Going to uni I had a tiny bit of savings from my part time job that I was going to use towards treats for me..(shopping trips, alcohol, that kinda thing).

The main thing students need to do is budget. I know so many people, who as soon as their student loan came in, just went on a shopping spree and it disappeared. Yes, I shopped a lot, a little too much as I have recently realised, but I have never been in the position where I have spent it all and not had enough for essentials!

Although in my overdraft now, (as the majority are when finishing uni), there are ways to stop this. Many people I know had a part time job at uni, but I didn't want this to get in the way of my social life and university work so I chose not to do this. Make sure you look out for any student offers, an NUS card was an essential for me as it gave soo many discounts and is only £11 a year! 16-25 Railcards were also a must have as it saves 1/3 off your travel, and only costs £28 (free with my Natwest student account!) Also, when doing fancy dress nights, Primark becomes your best friend!!

University and work:

I was quite shocked how unlike college university was. You do not have someone telling you to do a piece of homework and bring it in the next day. You don't have people sat pretty much guiding you along. They let you get on with it. If you don't pass, you haven't worked hard enough. You will only get good marks if you work hard. My university course was an art one and so was a little different but for more academic subjects, I would suggest taking something to record the lecture, or if you type faster than you write, take in your laptop / notebook to make notes. Lecturers talk fast. Make sure you ask for help if you need it. Just remember although you are at uni to have fun, you are paying a lot of money for an education so you want to get something worth remembering out of it....a good grade as well as good friends! 

Main points of advice:

  • Keep records - When you move in to your accommodation, take photos of any marks / anything broken etc - places will try to charge you for all they can when you move out so you will need proof it was like that to begin with.

  • Make your room homely - This is where you are living for the next year so you want to make it pretty, full of things you love and not somewhere you don't enjoy being. - I had photos everywhere, as well as a heart rug and fairy lights as these are things that made me feel right at home!

  • Get blankets and cushions for your bed - You want to be cosy and will spend a lot of time in your bed..and it will probably become your sofa in your room!

  • Buy storage bits - These can be found in places such as Wilkinsons, Primark, Home Bargains and B&M bargains. They are all pretty cheap and help to de-clutter your room. I was quite lucky as I had a few drawers built in, space under my bed and a wardrobe yet me being me needed more space, and ended up buying some portable drawers for more clothes and a 4 drawer slim set that fitted snugly into my bathroom. It is definitely easier to decide what storage bits you need and what size they can be once you're there though! No point buying and then realising they don't fit.
  •  Buy quick to cook meals - For the first few weeks, make sure you have lots of ready meals, things that are easy to make (pot noodles!) but that fill you up. You want to be eating a good size meal so you don't end up throwing up! but you won't have time in the first few weeks to start going through the student cook books you have no doubt been given or bought whilst preparing for uni!

Second Year at uni - (L-R)
Peter Andre at Evolution, group of friends, Sailor night out, Carnage Doctors & Nurses, Evo.

  • Buy your alcohol before going out - This comes under budgeting! Although drinks at student events are dirt cheap, you will save a lot by pre-drinking with friends in someones flat. - It also helps you learn a lot about some people if you play drinking games such as 'I have never...!' (Just remember about the tidying the next day!)

  • Stay smiley and friendly - Keep your bedroom door open when you want company / want to meet others. People will take the hint :)

  • Meet anyone you can - You don't want to make friends with 3 people then in two months down the line realise you don't actually get on with them as well as you thought you did...

  • Go to Freshers Fairs - You get loads of free bits and bobs including Domino pizza offers as well as loads of others. This is somewhere you can normally sign up to a doctors surgery in case of any problems as well as a number of societies, another way of meeting new people.

  • Actually go to lectures - You haven't paid thousands of pounds to get into debt and get nothing from it!

  • As you can see in my photos, quite a few times we did something called 'Carnage.' Quite a few cities do it and basically, it's like a pub crawl. You pay for a t-shirt which is your ticket for the can customise and cut it up however you like and then all you have to pay for are your drinks as all your entry fees to about 5 pubs and a club are paid for! It's a great way of meeting new people, and knowing that you only need money for drinks too!

  • Make sure you wear flats if doing a pub crawl!

  • Get used to taking naps!! Before uni, you think they are for old people. Whilst at uni, you realise you cannot live without them!

  • Take loads of photos! You want to remember uni for the good reasons :) - memories and friendships made through uni are priceless.

  • Lastly, have fun and just be yourself! 
Although my time at uni was tough with the actual uni course turning out to be a course I did not problems with my Dad back home.. massive fall outs in second year between friends and 3 of us having to move flats, I got through it! I especially enjoyed my first year, meeting such a huge variety of people and have some of the greatest friends now! Uni has definitely changed me for the better, and that I will always be glad of.

Year 3 (L-R) Pre-drinks in the flat, Kayla's LBD themed 21st, Pre-drinking before out for kay's 21st, out for birthday, Carnage PJ party, Carnage Beach babes xx

Just remember as much as you want to do well at university, don't spend every spare minute studying. I should have taken my own advice on this part in my last year rather than getting so so stressed and literally being in uni 8-8 then working all night, that everyone needs to cut loose once in a while. Always being surrounded by uni work can drain you, but don't forget that the studying is the main reason you are there!

If anyone wants any tips / advice at any time, just message me at or on twitter  and I will try to help out. I know exactly how you are feeling and just wish I had had something like this to tell me everything would be okay so am here if anyone needs me! And I hope a teeny bit of this may have helped you in some way.

I am so looking forward to doing freshers all over again but in Manchester for my new course! :)

Gina xoxo

Birthday books we bought each other to remember uni and the good times x