Your heart is pounding out of its chest. You’re about to move out of your parents’ house. You can smell the freedom, responsibility, and slight homesickness; the air’s thick with it. Sure, you didn’t get accommodation on campus, but you’re moving into a house, and that’s more grown-up, isn’t it? No 3am fire alarms, not having to pay for washing machines, and not even a warden to check up on you…soon you’ll be a fully-fledged adult.
Pretty soon though, the downsides of this brand new life are going to set in. Your house might be in a poor state of repair. Perhaps it’s too far from campus for any sane person to want to visit you. You could be nervous, nay, terrified, of missing out on the Fresher’s Week atmosphere Don’t panic. These feelings are totally natural, and nothing to be ashamed of; however, if you want to survive the year in one piece, you’ll need to develop ways of coping with them.
“This house is awful, and the landlord won’t do anything to fix it!”
This is a painful truth to hear, but the sooner the light of realization dawns upon you, the sooner you can reach inner zen: the vast majority of student houses are like this. This isn’t meant as a defamatory statement towards the landlords and agents of Guildford. Very rare is it to come across a perfect student house. Rats, mould, leaks, temperamental appliances… all far, far too common. Take solace though in the fact that you’re not alone. If complaining to your agent or landlord goes nowhere, you can always talk to the accommodation office at the university. You may not be a resident of halls, but they’ll still help you out. If your agent is truly horrific, you can even get them blacklisted by the university, so other students won’t have to suffer your pain. Additionally, getting in touch with the council can work miracles towards getting various household fixes completed. Still feeling lackluster? Reward yourself from time to time, for living in substandard conditions. By having something to look forward to, be it a concert, a meal, or a day trip, time will pass faster, and you’ll be excited enough that maybe, just maybe, your situation will feel just a little bit better.
“This house is so far from campus, I’ll never make any friends!”
You’d be hard-pressed to go through first year without making at least one friend; however, it is certainly much easier to make them at the start of the year, when everybody else is in the same boat, rather than waiting until towards the end of it, when people are already forming their own social groups. It is imperative that, at least for the first few weeks, you make an effort to get out of the house. It may well be the last thing you feel like doing, but it will pay off in the end. Join societies. Talk to the people on your course. Go to some of the day events (yes, there’s more to Fresher’s Week than drinking). If you don’t fancy a long trek to campus, see if any students live in your area, and start chatting to them. Longer-term, living away from campus shouldn’t stop you from being able to socialize. Sure, you may need to leave earlier for things (or always face being late), and will generally be the last one to get home, but there are ways around that too. If you have a decent-sized break between lectures, do something then. It’s not like school; you’re free to go into town for a coffee or go back to a friend’s and play video games between lectures if you so desire. That way, you shouldn’t end up having to decide between another hour of Mario Kart or being able to get home in time to get a decent night’s sleep. You could also try to get your friends to socialize somewhere other than campus, so all of you have to take a trip to get there.
“I’m afraid of missing out on the Fresher’s Week atmosphere!”
Have you ever been in a sweaty club, smelling slightly of red bull and spirits, trying not to slip on the bottle-strewn floor, walked home in a horde of fellow clubbers, then woken up at 4pm the next day? Congratulations, you’ve essentially experienced a Fresher’s Week club night. There are plenty of day events on campus (many of which are compulsory; there’s your warning), which can be brilliant for discovering more about your course and making new friends, and are very relaxed in nature. If you don’t like clubs, living away from campus is ideal; you won’t have to lie awake through hours of loud music and drunken yells, then walk through the piles of litter the next morning. If, however, you are a club fan, there’s nothing stopping you from going; given you actually have to attend some of the day events, you’ll be on campus regardless, and the difference between arriving home at 3:10am and 3:40am is minimal – if you really want, you could stay with a friend on campus for the night. Either way, living off campus shouldn’t mean missing out.
Some of you won’t have had ideal summers. If you’ve come to university through clearing, just broken up with your school boyfriend/girlfriend, or your parents live on the other side of the world, your self-confidence is likely dented, and the prospect of starting university while not living on campus can be a daunting one. Remember though that you’re not alone. Not everyone may be in your exact situation, but almost everyone is nervous at the start of university. What matters is keeping your nerves in check, getting out, and making this week an excellent start to what are touted to be some of the best years of your life.
Text by Aidan Lindsay
Picture research by Juliey Pham; featured image by Rebecca Cofie.