ADVICE FROM A THIRD YEAR TO A FRESHER
Molly Sword / Guide / 5 minute read
Going to Uni and starting a new chapter of your life can be both an incredibly daunting and exciting experience. Through my last 2 years at Manchester, I have learnt (sometimes the hard way) some tips and tricks that will make adjusting to this change a lot easier so thought I would share some ideas of what I wished I had known as a fresher.
So, let’s get the boring bit out the way first! As a fresher I had absolutely no idea what I was in for, the thought of referencing seemed impossible and I didn’t know where to start with collecting info, researching, revising etc.
Work smart, not hard. It’s important to remember to feel free to ask for help, your tutors are there to guide you and most likely others won’t know what they are doing either. I would recommend using programmes such as ‘cite me’ or ‘cite this for me’ which make it significantly easier to collect your references together. Make sure you update as you go too - there’s nothing worse than shutting down your computer, losing all your tabs and realising you’ve forgotten to reference.
Don’t think you need to go out and buy every textbook on the syllabus - a lot of the time your library will provide you with resources. In terms of online resources, the increased use of AI has helped many students but be careful when using it, if the questions are similar for everyone in your lecture, then it is likely a lot will use AI and you may be accused of plagiarism. Instead, use AI as a guide to help you answer specific questions surrounding your topic alongside your other resources.
My number one tip for making essays and revision so much easier is to type out all your notes into a document (make sure to back it up) and then convert it to a PDF. This will allow you to search for keywords across your notes and save hours of time when searching for a specific topic/module.
Now the fun part! You are at university to get a degree, but first year is also a time to make friends and engage with new sports, activities or hobbies. Societies at uni are a great way to make friends and find people of similar interests - something which can be especially important if you don’t immediately get along with your flatmates. There are thousands of people at university and just because the 10 people in your accommodation aren’t your best friends it doesn’t mean you won’t meet your “kind” of people.
As for societies, there is such a broad range of interests you can get involved with and it doesn’t matter if you don’t know anyone or haven’t done it before, Uni is a great time for new experiences and developing new skills so get involved if there is something that catches your eye! Don’t worry if it’s all too overwhelming in the first month and there is too much information - you can join a society whenever you want.
Manchester is an amazing city, perfect for drinks, coffee shops, and clubbing. Make sure to make the most of it - I was guilty of only going to the same 5 places my first semester. There’s a variety of places such as quirky bars in the Northern quarter, cute coffee shops in Didsbury, nice cocktail bars in Spinningfields and fun nights out in Deansgate. It is worth following some Instagram or Tiktok pages who advertise new places to go, and if you know a good spot, that means you can recommend it to friends/ a date!
Surviving freshers week is a universal experience and beware the subsequent freshers flu - make sure to stock up on some medication as well as a bit of vitamin C and try to get some vegetables in between the alcohol and take away meals, trust me you will thank yourself for it by October! Whilst going out at uni can be incredibly fun, make sure to look after yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed, if you have a lot of work to do, ignore the peer pressure to go out. Not going on one night is not going to stop you from missing out - you’ve got the next 3 years to do that and there is nothing wrong with having a chill one.
The most common concern for university students is running out of money but there are ways you can make it easier for yourself to save. One tip is to get a new savings account which you can put your loan into and transfer weekly amounts into. This will save you from buying everyone you meet in the club a drink and waking up with a nasty surprise from your bank in the morning! This also works well with apps like monzo - you can create money pots such as rent, food, going out etc to manage your money so you are not panicking by the time it gets to November. Most banks will also give you a nice sign-up offer too.
Meal planning and going to shops such as Aldi and Lidl and having a supermarket card becomes a lifesaver when it comes to a food shop. I have been guilty of grabbing whatever looks nice and then not being able to make a meal out of it and end up spending more than needed. It is also worth cooking in bulk and buying some freezer containers is great future planning for when you are too tired/hungover to cook, saving the money you would spend on a takeaway.
Getting an NUS card or Unidays is a great way to go out for food or get large discounts on clothes when at uni - make the most of it while you are a student! It is also worth checking midweek deals in local bars or restaurants - almost every place will have one.
MAKING A ROOM A HOME:
Your environment is super important to your mental state at uni. I would be a hypocrite if I told you not to pack too much considering my first-year room was overspilling with things I didn’t need, however it is important to remember you don’t have as much storage as you may be used to and you don’t want your space to feel too crammed. Get rid of everything you don’t need!
I would also recommend buying storage containers that can go under your bed or around your room to allow you to feel more organised. A drying rack for your kitchen is a great investment to make the space feel more organised and less cluttered, and remember - you do not need 10 sets of knives and forks and 5 plates, it’s just more washing up to do/more spaces for mould to build up if you forget!
When decorating your room, it is worth getting some sticky command strips, so you don’t damage the walls and end up risking your deposit. A clean and organised space can make a huge difference to how you feel and help you not get overwhelmed.
Overall, there is a large amount of information to process when moving to university and whilst this may all seem daunting it is important to remember that everyone else is in the same position - so make sure to look after yourself, ask for help, and have fun!