five things i’ve learnt in first year of university

with my first year of university drawing to a close, i thought i’d reminisce on some of the things i’ve learnt while being a fresher. while it doesn’t feel as though a year has passed living away from home, meeting people that i now call my best friends and having the responsibility and independence that i have now, a lot has happened in such a short time.


one: lidl is a godsend.

you will never feel appreciation for a shop like you will for lidl as a student. the prices alone meant that between me and two others (we split our weekly shops and had dinner together), we paid around £13 a week each. a tip that i rarely hear from other people at uni is getting together with other people in your flat to do a weekly shop – it was definitely something that saved me the most money; while some of my friends were spending £30 a week for themselves, we were spending just over £30 a week on three people.

as a student, you will quickly learn that budgeting and generally being aware of your finance is something that you have to do in order to make it through to the end of the year. i’m lucky enough to be at a uni that has a free bus running all day meaning my weekly shops were so much easier than students at other universities. but,

so, as the lovely human i am, i’ve compiled some of my top off-brand picks from a range of shops that will be near you at uni…

  • tesco : “everyday value ready salted crisps” – i’ve never tasted ready salted crisps as good as these bad boys and even better, they’re just over 5p per pack (66p for 12) which makes them an absolute staple for student life.
  • lidl : “armilar amaretto” / own brand peach schnapps / own brand dark fruits – now i’ve already banged on about how incredible lidl is for the entirety of this post so far but i couldn’t keep quiet about their alcohol deals. don’t be the weirdo that turns up to pres with branded spirits – why pay double the money for the same drink?
  • asda : “asda dark chocolate digestives” – if you’ve only ever eaten milk chocolate digestives, for the love of god, try these beauties. not only are they absolutely life changing but they’re 50-godamn-p.
  • aldi : “apple and mango juice” – now i don’t really shop at aldi because it’s the furthest away from my uni but i’ve been a few times when my flatmate had brought her car to uni and this juice was worth the extra hassle to get to aldi. 10/10 would recommend as a perfect hangover cure.

two: squadka

everyone knows that drinking culture at uni is absolutely massive, but i didn’t know the extent it would be. before uni, i considered myself a drinker. oh how i was wrong. now i consider spoons as my second home and yet i’m still not up there with the pros.

first of all, freshers is manic. i constantly heard prior to starting university that you’ll never speak to the people you hang out with on nights out in freshers week after the week is over, and i never believed it. weirdly enough, this is completely true. while i still have them all saved on my snapchat, none of us have hung out since and that is fine – there are so many people at uni that you have thousands of options for friends. also linking with fresher’s week, fresher’s flu is not a myth – i got it half way through fresher’s week and it felt like i was going to die. so remember kids, buy paracetamol before you start uni!

now, onto the reason behind the title of number two: squadka. for those of you unaware of this life changing invention, squadka is a mix of half a bottle of squash and half a bottle of vodka. to drink it, you pour the amount of squadka into your glass that you would a normal glass of squash, and just top it up with water.

not only does this mean you:

  • can’t taste the alcohol at all, but,
  • its super cheap (one bottle of squadka can last a long time – depending on how much you drink – and you’ll still have half a bottle of vodka after making it), and
  • gets you absolutely wrecked without you even realising.

when my mate introduced me to the squadka life, i noticed hangovers were a thing of the past: you’re literally filling yourself with water while getting drunk! this is definitely one of the most important things i’ve learnt at uni so far… sorry mum?

three: tolerating people you hate

i was both lucky and unlucky with my living situation of first year; while i made friends with some people in my flat, there are others that i hope to never see again. drama was a daily occurrence while living in uni halls so its safe to say that two days were never the same in that regard, but considering i was usually forced into the centre of the drama, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

i’m quite a tolerant person: i can bite my tongue to a degree and ignore people i don’t get on with. this strategy doesn’t work with some people, mind you. i understand that everyone in the world will get along with everyone else but for a few people, i took the role of most hated flatmate through parts of first year. i won’t go into too much detail about what happened as i might make it into a separate blog post altogether, just know that its a very angry story. overall, my advice to anyone who doesn’t get on with a flatmate is to just keep to yourself and not rise to anything they try to cause.

i found out quite quickly that friends can be made all across uni, much to my relief. once i met my flatmates i was suddenly very nervous about my time at uni – wondering if i would make friends outside of the flat but it came quite naturally.

  • first of all, your course mates are a great starting point to try to make friends – you’ll be seeing these people almost every day of your uni life so its probably a great idea to get to know them. i met one that i would now consider one of my best friends, so you really can’t rule them out.
  • as for elsewhere, societies are always talked about as potential “friend making places” and,
  • meeting people through your friends friends. for example, i  met another friend through my boyfriend’s housemate and i’d consider him one of my best friends now too, in fact i’ll be living with him in september.

four: nobody gives a shit about you

this is probably the most positive thing i could write about regarding university. when i say nobody cares about you, i mean it in an incredibly good way. uni is nothing like school: at school, college and sixth form, your business is everyone else’s business – regardless of whether you’ve broken up with someone; you’ve started a relationship with someone; you’re going through a really tough time; you’ve just come into a fuck-ton of money, everyone will think that they are entitled to know the ins and outs of your life.

this is not the case at uni. apart from the odd one or two people you’ll come across (like my psycho flatmate i just spoke about), everyone is there to have a good time and end uni with a degree. this means that you can leave your house/flat wearing pyjamas and nobody will even blink. and i have to admit, i have walked downstairs to co-op in my fluffy slippers too many times to count.

so if you’re nervous about making friends at uni or worried about what people will think of you, worry no more! you’ve just got to remember that everyone is in the same position so if you’re shitting yourself, the likely chance is that your potential new pals are too.

five: first year doesn’t count

while you should still try your hardest in your first year of university, you shouldn’t put the pressure of getting a first in every module on yourself. the work you do in first year of uni doesn’t count towards your end grade of your degree (at least in my case) which gives everyone a chance to experience uni life for what it is. this means that freshers can enjoy social activities, joining societies and meeting new friends with a smaller burden of important deadlines. with this in mind, i’ve compiled a list that i think every fresher should take part in during their first year:

  • fresher’s fayre : aka the best day of uni – free shit, free food, free free free! the amount of companies throwing things at you for free, food places giving you samples to try and societies wanting you to join is, at times, overwhelming, but i’m honestly so excited for next year to do it all over again.
  • fresher’s week club nights : even if you’re not a heavy drinker, the atmosphere in fresher’s is incredible – everyone is so friendly, you get to know your city better and you get involved with people across campus (or the actual uni if you’re in a city uni like me).
  • takeaway night : what better way to make friends than with a load of food? if there’s four of you, the two tasty deal from dominos means that you’ll be spending about £5 each for half a pizza, 1/4 of a side and 1/4 of a drink which is a pretty good deal.
  • explore your new home : either with a group of friends or on your own, it’ll give you the chance to find the hidden gems that will come in useful later on in uni life. even if you just check out places like your uni’s library and recommended restaurants, you won’t regret it.


if you’re just finished first year of uni, what did you learn?

or, if you’re starting uni soon, what are you looking forward to/afraid of?

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