Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Freshers 2016: The ultimate first year survival guide

'There’s only so much nutrition you can extract from Dave’s doner van'

Jack Wallington
Community Director, The Student Room
Wednesday 12 October 2016 11:06 BST
Pay attention students: With freshers’ celebrations done and dusted, it's time to work out your long term survival plan
Pay attention students: With freshers’ celebrations done and dusted, it's time to work out your long term survival plan (Getty)

Now you’ve come through the maelstrom of Freshers' Week parties, it’s time to get your head around being away from the creature comforts of home.

As we see every year from conversations on The Student Room, working out how to be a fresher isn’t just about getting through week one.

As the buzz of those early days fades away, you’ve got to shift your focus to your routine: getting to classes, dealing with coursework and managing those all-important finances.

Here’s how to survive your first year at university.

1) All things in moderation

Fresher’s Week can feel like the craziest week of your life, and it’s not a great idea to try to keep up that pace for the rest of your time at university.

Have fun – just try to pace yourself a bit. And planning a few nights in every week isn’t only good for the liver, it’s also a blessing for your bank balance and your coursework reading list.

2) Look after yourself

It’s not a myth – fresher’s flu does exist.

With several 18-year-olds, sharing a kitchen (and many other things) you’re inevitably going to be a target for all kinds of bugs. Sleep is your friend.

Get as much as you can, it will help your immune system keep on top of things. You need some healthy food as well – a few bits of fresh fruit and veg will do the trick.

There’s only so much nutrition you can extract from Dave’s doner van.

3) Join a club

Seriously. Just do it. University provides the time and opportunity to try new sports and activities – and it’s a good way to meet new people.

If you’ve already missed the Fresher’s Fair, just have a look at your university’s student union pages online. You’ll find tons of things to choose from. As well as being a good laugh, they’ll also be handy for listing on your CV when it comes time to go job-hunting.

4) Don’t fight homesickness

Once the hustle and bustle of week one dies down, it’s not unusual for a niggling sense of homesickness to kick in.

You’ll probably be craving a home-cooked meal and your own bed. Don’t feel guilty for missing home; after all, for most students it’s the first stint away from your mum and dad.

Keep in touch with friends and family back home as often as you need to, and get a date in the diary for them to visit, or you to go home – it will be something to look forward to.

5) Keep an eye on the finance

Loan day comes and suddenly your bank account is bursting with cash.

Trouble is, this cash injection needs to last you for months. Sorry…you’re going to have to budget.

In your budget, list out your essential items such as books, food, travel costs and monthly bills. Be strict on yourself about how much things really do cost. Once you’ve figured out how much money is left over, you can work out what you can spend on things like nights out and clothing.

You might go through the process and find yourself looking at a big cash-flow black hole, but there are plenty of ways for students to make extra cash.

Try your student union for local part-time job ads. Or make some cash from your old stuff. If you’ve got loads of books, DVDs or CDs taking up space, you could sell them online using sites such as and eBay.

6) Make the most of it

Some say university will be the best time of your life, and they wouldn’t be wrong. Given the fantastic opportunities and amazing friends that university offers, it really is easy to see why.

Embrace your first year and make the most of your experience as a fresher.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in