10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started University.

Last year (how has it been a WHOLE year?) I started University to study English Language and Creative Writing in Cheltenham. I remember how nervous and excited I was to start this new chapter of my life, but there were a few things that I learnt along the way which I thought I would share with you.

  1. Netflix is the new social

Before I started University, I had visions of going out to clubs every night and holding flat parties with my friends. Turns out, this didn’t happen as much as I thought it would – thank God! Cheltenham has one student night per week where entry to clubs are cheaper and drinks are on offer. Otherwise, it was very expensive – especially Saturday nights! So, as an alternative, I bought a subscription to Netflix.

Movie nights and catching up on TV series provided entertainment for the flat. Curling up in someone’s room with a snack and a girly movie was one of our favourite things to do, and actually I preferred nights in to nights out. (Who wants to go out in the cold at 2am anyway?)

As I didn’t take a TV to university for first year, watching Netflix on my laptop was a good replacement, and no it didn’t distract me from my work….. too much.


  1. Fire alarms can happen on any day, at any time

High pitched, screaming alarms will go off at four am. This will happen. Someone, somewhere in the building, will decide that it’s an excellent idea to make toast at this time. The toast will burn. And you will have to crowd outside in the freezing air in your dressing gown.

Or, if you’re me, you’ll sleep through it.

Despite the loud siren, I didn’t wake up until my flatmates banged on my bedroom window (we were the ground-floor flat) to get me outside to the meeting point. Luckily, on this occasion, it was 8am – an acceptable time – and it was just a practice run.


  1. Second year housing goes quicker than they say

My University requires all second year students to move out of student halls and into shared housing. Although I had only known my flatmates for a couple of months, we all decided to start looking for a house together. Although it was only November of the first year, we were surprised to see how many rented properties were being snatched up. To avoid disappointment, we signed a contract for a house before Christmas.

When they’re gone, they’re gone!

  1. Fairy lights are a good investment

It was very important to me to make my dorm room feel homely and cosy. I thought picture frames, pillows and fluffy throws would do the trick, but there’s nothing quite like twinkling fairy lights at night! The golden glow really made the room comfortable. I ended up buying three or four packs from Primark (£3-£4 each) and my collection has since grown!

  1. Ironing boards are not

Don’t buy an iron. Or an ironing board. It won’t happen.


  1. Fridges are actually quite gross

I used to think that fridges were clean, hygienic places to keep food fresh and healthy.


In our student halls, every time we opened our fridge, we were hit with ‘The Fridge Smell’. This smell is not easy to explain, and I’d rather not reminisce. But it was not pleasant to say the least! It wasn’t that we were unclean or left our food mouldy – honest, we checked! So, we Googled it, and found that, after giving it a good clean, leaving a chopped lemon in there overnight would freshen it up.

And it worked, for a day or two.

  1. Shower curtains don’t work

They just don’t.

  1. Freshers’ fayre is better the later you go

During Freshers’ Week, my University held a ‘Freshers’ Fayre’, where new students can sign up to sport groups and societies, as well as gain a few freebies. Eager to see what it was all about, my flatmates and I decided to go early to miss the crowds. Unfortunately, as we’d got there at the opening time, some stalls hadn’t been set up yet and there wasn’t as much to see. We even missed out on a whole other section of stalls and clubs, which meant we didn’t get a full idea of what the University had to offer.

The later you go to a Freshers’ Fayre, the more you’ll get out of it.

freshers fayre.gif

  1. Meeting new people isn’t scary

I heard it one-hundred-million times before I went to Uni, but I’m going to repeat the cliché again; everyone is in the same boat. Everyone wants to make friends and to fit in. This makes moving to University a lot easier. People are forced out of their shells and to talk to new people, and so you’ll find that other people do the work for you! Even the first night in halls wasn’t as lonely as I thought it could have been because I felt comforted by the people around me.


  1. First year is easier than A-Levels

Perhaps it was the lack of exams, or less time in lessons, but – for me – the first year of my University course was less intense than both years of studying for A-Levels. I wasn’t expecting this. It gave me the opportunity to settle into independent life and get used to the workings of University. Of course, there were stressful moments and deadlines to meet, but – generally – it was much better.


Amy Louise


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