Moving to university is undoubtedly one of the biggest things you will have ever done in your entire life so far! It is most likely the first time that you are leaving home for an extended period of time and living independently on your own in a brand-new city… So it is totally normal to feel a little nervous and uneasy as September gets closer and closer!! However, despite this, university turns out to be one of the most rewarding times of your young adult life. It gives you a whole new set of skills and memories that will stick with you forever!
Settling in can be the hardest point of your university experience. It is totally normal to feel uneasy during the first few days/weeks of your first year. Remember, it is such a huge change in your life and what you’re used to, so it will take a while until you feel 100% comfortable!
Your first week of university is also known as Freshers’ Week. This is often a jam-packed week of day and night activities run by the university where you will constantly be socialising with both your new flatmates and other first year students. This is a really helpful way of getting to know new people. There are a range of activities ranging from nightly club nights/bar crawls to pizza and film nights. So there are always ways of meeting new people and socialising regardless of if you like going ‘out out’ or not! It’s so important to remember that everyone is in the same boat too and probably feeling just as nervous as you!
Don’t be afraid of striking up conversations with other first year freshers’ during this first week. I can promise you that everyone is looking to make/meet as many new friends as possible during their first week of uni! My biggest tip would be to simply say YES to lots of things and push yourself outside your comfort zone. This applies to your entire time at university, but specifically during your first week when there are so many events taking place with basically everyone at uni. You never know; by saying YES to things you aren’t initially sure about you might just have the best time of your life and meet some amazing people and discover a new interest!! University is all about taking risks and trying new things, and it is a great way to make new friends.
Another thing that happens when you move to university will be a Freshers’ Fair. At the University of York, there are over 200 societies (run by students, for students). The Freshers’ Fair is the one time where you can explore all these societies and speak to members about what they offer and how to join them. Societies are a great way to meet new people with the same interests/likes as you and with over 200 societies (!!!), you are sure to find something that you enjoy!!
I belong to 2 societies – the Cocktail Society and CHMS (musical theatre society). Initially, I was scared to join a new society. But it has led to me meeting whole new groups of people in the last few months who share the exact same interests as me and offered me the chance to get involved with some great opportunities! Whilst I cannot sing, dance or act for my life; being part of CHMS means I have done the Press and Publicity for their February production, 9to5 the Musical, and I am co-producing the Summer Showcase for 2022! This has allowed me to add excellent experience to my CV for the future whilst also having fun and meeting new people!
Before coming to York, have a look at the societies available and make sure to visit the Freshers’ Fair to get involved in some of these! Again, try to push yourself out of your comfort zone!!
Settle into your new home
Whilst the first few weeks of uni can be super busy and hectic with all the events going on, it is also important to make sure you settle into your new home! One of the biggest tips I can give is to make sure you decorate your room to make it feel homely!
I did a huge order on freeprints where I ordered lottsssssss of photos of friends, family and just amazing memories from my life. And as soon as I got to uni, I stuck these all up on my pinboard above my bed. This makes your room feel so homely and makes you feel so much better to look back on some great memories if you are ever feeling a little stressed or homesick – which is totally normal and expected!! Remember, uni is your home away from home for the next 3 years at least. So it is so important to get fully settled in when you first arrive!
Another top tip I would give for making friends at university is utilising social media!! This may be a bit of a more unique approach but practically all my closest friends I have now are friends I made throughout first year from Instagram! People are always following other people that go to the same uni as them (top tip no 2: put your university name in your Instagram bio so people know that you also go there!)
I simply would pop up to anyone I followed that I knew went to York and looked like someone who looked fun or had the same interests as me and that I wanted to be friends with! Don’t be scared to make the first move. Like I said before, everyone is wanting to meet new people and make friends at university. Plus, the rise of social media in the last few years has made it so much easier for us to interact with other people! Simply pop up, get the conversation flowing and then try and go out for a drink or something to get to know each other better!
Also, make sure you join all the Facebook group chats over the summer holidays and start following people on social media before you move to uni! The only reason I have Facebook is for the constant stream of group chats that I belong to at university! These range from society groups, college groups, course groups and then flat group chats!! Try to get chatting with people over the summer holidays that you know you will be living or studying with. That way there will be at least one friendly face to see during your first few days at uni!
I hope this little guide has given you a few top tips on how to settle into university during your first few weeks and the best ways to initially get to know people and make friends! Like I said before, moving away and into university is such a big and scary thing to do so it is a huge achievement to do this! You’ll be surprised at how quickly you become independent and how quickly you settle in! By simply pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, you will be subjected to so many new people who will end up becoming some of your closest friends!!
Read more student advice about settling into uni