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Useful University moving in tips?
September 14, 2006 9:53 AM   Subscribe

Any useful tips for settling in to first week in college / university? Any funny anecdotes of your first week in college / university?

Next Tuesday I'm off to university (Winchester in the UK if it makes any difference), and it's going to be my first time living away from home, with new people, and wondered if people have any useful tips for settling in, living in shared accomodation for the first time (there will be 6 or 8 bedrooms going onto an adjoining kitchen area)? Social tips for those of us who aren't big drinkers?

Any key hints / tips that you found helpful / were told were important but not?
posted by philsi to Education (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 

posted by cosmicbandito at 10:05 AM on September 14, 2006


Talk to people.

My first day at university I arrived, said bye to my parents and headed straight into my Halls of residence kitchen to chat to people.

Started getting to know some of them straight away, we headed out for a few games of pool and later on went out for a chat and a few drinks at the local chainpub.

Next day, walked along my corridor saying hello to the people who had left their door's open.

If there's a big student's union event on the first day of term, get there early if you want to go at all. I arrived at a normal time (for later in the term) and there was no chance of getting in.

If this happens to you, organise your hallmates to go back to your halls communal area, have a few drinks (alcoholic or otherwise) and sit around chatting.

Overall, enjoy yourselves. You'll probably end up living with a few of the people you meet in the first week in your second year (and maybe you're third!)

---

Final thoughts:

  • If you're struggling, talk to your course tutors/lecturers. They CAN help. (I didn't do this... bad idea)
  • If after a while you are not enjoying your course, don't hesitate about changing course (within your own University, or outside it).

  • It's not worth struggling through an unenjoyable course for what can be some of the best years of your life.
    posted by knapah at 10:26 AM on September 14, 2006


    Make friends with someone with a car (not sure if that's appropriate for your location, but it certainly was for me here in the States).

    I also didn't drink at the beginning of college, and I kept busy just hanging out with my neighbors and joining a few student groups. I didn't mind hanging out with drinkers even though I abstained myself.

    Explore your interests or cultivate some new ones. There should be lots of student groups, especially in your field of study (if you know it already).
    posted by look busy at 10:29 AM on September 14, 2006


    I wish that I had made friends more actively in my first year of college. The suggestion to introduce yourself to new people is a great one.
    posted by rossination at 10:35 AM on September 14, 2006


    (more tips in this thread, and those linked from it)
    posted by MetaMonkey at 10:37 AM on September 14, 2006


    If you're an early-to-bed/early-to-rise person by nature, be prepared for lots of ostracism. No one will want to go anywhere until about 10:00 pm, and you'll miss a lot if you can't adjust your biological alarm clock to stay up late.
    posted by scratch at 11:00 AM on September 14, 2006


    I love every first week of school. It's like a zoo, there's so much to do and so much to interact with. Sex is at its easiest, class is at its easiest, freshman are at their most foolish.

    Enjoy the tranisition, don't pretend to be someone you aren't in order to make friends/coexist with people.
    posted by stratastar at 11:36 AM on September 14, 2006


    Tips for living in a shared space:
    Establish rules for cleaning as soon as possible.
    Also establish rules for sharing of food/toilet paper/paper towels/hand soap so that one person doesn't feel like they're the only person who is buying everything. I would suggest an Excel spreadsheet with general purchases recorded on it. I would also suggest absolutely not sharing food, because one person will always eat more and then not replace it with the same food (i.e replacing Oreos with same nasty off-brand oreo rip-off).

    Also, be considerate but don't expect too much if you're planning on studying and sleeping during typical college hours (anytime before 1am on weekdays, 3am on weekends). You can try and have a quiet policy, but everyone will break it.

    My first week of school I met three people who are to this day still some of my closest friends. Be friendly, outgoing, and happy. Don't bring up crap about high school, any excess baggage about being the guy that smelled like cabbage or was goth as fuck. This is your chance to start over. That being said, don't go home every weekend, in fact, don't go home for the first month, it is the prime time when everyone is forming some of their initial cliques and you've gotta be there. Join some clubs that have your interests, that is a great way to make friends with similar interests and lifestyles.

    Also, go to class. Missing class on the first day is just rude.
    posted by banannafish at 11:40 AM on September 14, 2006


    I hated the first week, but loved the rest of my university time. The best advice I had before going was - ' don't assume that the people you meet on the first day will be your best friends'. They might be, but equally they might not.

    I was really glad when the work started and I could get some balance back - I ended up loving the socialising that was possible at uni but the first week, when it was all social and nothing else, was a bit hard on this introvert.
    posted by altolinguistic at 11:42 AM on September 14, 2006


    Anecdote:

    Whatever you do, you'll have a better first week than I did. I got mononucleosis two days before orientation and I missed the first week and a half of my first semester, sick at home (at my parents house). When I was finally well enough to go to school I was 'the kid with mono' for the next month. Ugh.
    posted by iurodivii at 12:09 PM on September 14, 2006


    living in shared accomodation for the first time

    There is a tolerance for unattended items, but it only goes so far. Don't be that dude who leaves his clothes in the dryer all day or his Mac & Cheese on the stove til it turns to mush. If you are that dude, don't be surprised to find your stuff unceremoniously dumped elsewhere. Set alarms if you are the forgetful sort or engaged in time-warping activities such as LAN games.
    posted by Sangre Azul at 12:18 PM on September 14, 2006


    What altolinguistic said- and more generally, don't put too much stock into your first impressions, whether they're from actually meeting people, or just seeing/hearing about them- you'll make some great friends, but they might not necessarily be the people you thought they were going to be the first few days. Don't write anyone off until you really have a good reason.
    posted by Oobidaius at 12:27 PM on September 14, 2006


    Accept invitations. You'll get opportunities to become part of social groups in the first couple weeks of school that may be hard to come by later. And don't pigeon-hole yourself. Don't instantly look for people that are just like the people you hung out with in high school. This is your big chance to reinvent yourself and find out who you really are.
    posted by wallaby at 12:46 PM on September 14, 2006


    Meet as many people as possible. Attach yourself to no one, but get in on everyone's outings/parties/etc.

    Don't be best friends with your roommate. That works both ways. If it's someone you don't know, be friendly, but don't chum it up too much (you will get on eachother's nerves). If you've got a friend going to the same school, don't room together, but be close (same floor, same dorm, etc.) That way you both have an escape/secondary place to hang.

    Go to class no matter how nice the weather on the quad is.

    Ancedote: My first week, my liberal mother gave me a huge tub of freeze-dried food and beverage, and stuck a 48 box of condoms in the pack without mentioning it. I didn't unpack until after my mom had left, but unfortunately, my new conservative roommate and her uber-conservative mother were there when I did. The mom gasped, pulled her daughter into the hallway and gave her a stern lecture about loose college women loud enough that my whole floor could hear it.
    (Then again, why I decided to go to a Catholic college is still beyond me.)
    posted by Gucky at 12:54 PM on September 14, 2006


    My first week of college, I was rooming with a girl who was a year older. She already had friends, but took me along with her--at least that first week. I missed doing some of the freshman things, because she said they were stupid and useless, like floor meetings, etc.

    In the second week, she decided she didn't like me and wanted one of her friends to move in, so I moved out, after drama about finding a new dorm room. Then, not a few months later, she moved off-campus, and her new roommate got the entire room to herself. At the time, I was pissed off about the whole situation, but now, I'm glad it happened because if I hadn't moved out, I would never have met the people who became my best friends. Not to mention, my ex-roommate was a night owl who stayed up until the wee hours, whereas I had early morning classes.
    posted by cass at 12:55 PM on September 14, 2006


    Stay caught up on sleep, even if it's not at your "usual" times. I got pretty good at taking 20 minute power naps (which is all you really need to refresh yourself anyway) during the day in between classes.

    Partying every night is okay as long as you can make up the sleep sometime during the day. Missing class for sleep doesn't count. If you don't pay attention to this, it could seriously affect your academic career.
    posted by toomanyplugs at 1:30 PM on September 14, 2006


    Leave your dorm room door open. You'd be surprised how many people will pop in and say hello. Met some of my best college friends that way.
    posted by chrisamiller at 1:47 PM on September 14, 2006


    Seconding the advice above that if you find you are having trouble -- you will usually realize it a couple of months in -- GO TALK to someone about it. A lot of first-years have trouble, because going away to uni is a big transition. Someone affiliated with the university has seen your problem before, and will have a sense of how to get you out of it. Talk to one of your professors, or a grad student who's TAing one of your labs, or if you're living in residence talk to one of the resident advisors. These people in general want to help, but they can only help if you ask.

    Also seconding the advice to push your boundaries a little - go try out activities that you might have shied away from in high school. Doesn't hurt to try stuff once, and you may surprise yourself with the people/fun activities you find. And have fun!
    posted by LobsterMitten at 1:50 PM on September 14, 2006


    Also, joining various activities (theater or theater tech; activism; singing group; low-intensity sport; games society; newspaper etc) might help with the non-drinking, by giving you a social scene that doesn't revolve around the pub.
    posted by LobsterMitten at 1:54 PM on September 14, 2006


    Know the difference between the washer and the dryer-- true story from Owen Hall at Purdue. Pretty Boy had never done laundry, so three weeks into the first semester, when everyone was in the laundry room fighting over washers, he found an empty dryer and put in all his clothes... he was inches from pouring the soap on top of them when one kindhearted girl stopped him. The rest of us just laughed. Poor guy.

    And this introvert never has been a big drinker-- there are things to do besides get wasted. I did enjoy good bands at frat parties, but I also enjoyed "callouts", or introductory meetings for everything from women in engineering to campus crusade for christ to the outdoors club. We had notes written in chalk on the blackboards of the big lecture halls announcing Callouts nearly every night for the first few weeks-- make a point to go to them, and ask people in your living space to go with you. You'll recognize people from your classes at some of them, you'll chat, and bam, you're friends.

    And call me a geek, but I really wish I would have worked harder in college. I claimed it was more important to get a well-rounded education in and out of the classroom, but really I was pretty lazy. Take advantage of the fact that you have some pretty amazing opportunities in front of you, and take risks like it's your birthday. Pursue studying internationally for a semester, get an internship for a semester or summer, be a lab assistant and grade papers for extra money, etc. Do stuff that will make your resume shine and reflect your personality. Have fun!
    posted by orangemiles at 2:07 PM on September 14, 2006


    Think for yourself what is likely to make the first week go well, and make some "new year's resolutions" promising yourself that you will do those things. Something like:
    * talk to people
    * go to fresher's events, at least for a quick look
    * sign up to several clubs -- you can drop the least favourite later -- it is possible that the club for your current greatest interest has been colonised by poeople you don't want to spend time with (though try them out for a bit, they may grow on you)
    * you don't have to go along with anything you feel uncomfortable with -- you have plenty of time to change your mind later
    * set a sensible alcohol limit now and stick to it -- if you really drink very little it may be easier to establish at the beginning of the evening that you will only drink one glass, while the others are sober enough for you to get the message across

    If you need a job, getting in first gives you the best choice, so prioritise job-hunting over socialising -- while pumping others, especially second and third years, about possibilities.

    Some new students spend a lot of time just getting used to having to fend for themselves away from home. So in the days before you leave, make sure to top up your knowledge of cooking, clothes washing, ironing and mending.

    I think you can work out some academic resolutions for yourself -- but do include trying to read ahead, as classes are much more comprehensible if you already have some idea about the main topics.
    posted by Idcoytco at 3:04 PM on September 14, 2006


    (contentious advice perhaps, but here goes: the first year is often very easy, and is rarely part of your final grade. if you are the studious type, don't go overboard with work - make time for fun, as long you are learning the material. The system is designed to give you a lot of leeway for making friends and finding your feet, so don't stress on the acadamic side too soon. most folk I know, who largely got 2:1 or firsts, did very little the first year.)
    posted by MetaMonkey at 3:42 PM on September 14, 2006


    but if you are the slacker type, pretend I didn't say that if you don't want to struggle in the second year.
    posted by MetaMonkey at 3:44 PM on September 14, 2006


    Recent survivor of 4 years at an Ivy, here.

    Go out and socialize! Be involved in your res hall/dorm! I was too introverted, and spent the rest of college with a core of 5 friends I met (with one exception) in the first week of college, who were also introverted. They're some of the most awesome people I know, but I still wish I'd had a wider circle.

    Go party a little, even if you usually don't! Don't do anything too stupid (drink in somewhat moderation, wear condoms, etc). I didn't get out much at all, and I honestly regret it.

    Don't study too hard! As others have said, don't fail, but first year classes are usually pretty easy to deal with. Don't be like me and take a bunch of 2nd and 3rd year classes, especially if you expect to be involved in relationships. Craziness happens; craziness in school affects relationships and vice-versa. None of this is fun, but its probably necessary.

    Have fun!
    posted by Alterscape at 4:00 PM on September 14, 2006


    if you end up in a lit course or some other course that goes through a lot of textbooks sequentially instead of referring to a handful of them throughout the semester:

    1) it can be good to delay buying books until you actually get to them in the course. discussion on one book may go over by a few lectures, the prof may decide to skip a book or two.

    2) it can be bad to delay buying books until you actually get to them in the course. bookstores may stop stocking the book at a certain point to make space for books for other courses that are being offered.
    posted by juv3nal at 4:21 PM on September 14, 2006


    lots of cool suggestions above.

    check out the practical stuff posted by the good folks at lifehacker under the topic "back to school". I wish I had such a cool resource when I was a freshman.
    posted by eebs at 5:16 PM on September 14, 2006


    Don't sign up for every single society you have an interest in - you'll waste the first year trying to go to all those meetings instead of just stepping back and enjoying life...

    Oh, and try not to be too infamous in your first year :(
    posted by badlydubbedboy at 4:28 AM on September 15, 2006


    I was a resident assistant, which means I was a sort of live-in mentor for new students.

    No idea what dorms/halls are like in the UK, but at my university in California, it was against the rules to prop your room door open as it defeated various fire safety/prevention systems...if the night security people walked through and found your door propped, they'd just shut it, often locking you out while in the shower or whatever, which was totally sucky and got the administration no end of grief.

    If you've got a laptop or any fancy tech gear, get it locked to your desk/bed/whatever - the first week is when people's defenses are down and don't know where things are, so it's harder to keep watch over their stuff. Offer your flatmates similar locks if you think they'd be weirded out by you locking up your stuff as if they were criminals.

    If you're new to the area, be sure to check out non-uni-student-frequented places to get a good idea of what the place is "really" like.

    E-mail's in the profile if you've got any more queries! Welcome to college!
    posted by mdonley at 4:01 AM on September 16, 2006


    Pour your own drinks and don't drink anything handed to you.
    posted by o0o0o at 10:20 AM on September 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


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