Uni survival 101 - How to win at being a student without really trying
So after all the results and interviews, it’s finally here.
You’re going to college or university to fill your head with facts and hopefully end up wearing a cap and gown in a few years.
But there is one more thing you’re going to learn while you’re there – independence. You’re not mummy and daddy’s little treasure anymore and you’re going to have to fend for yourself. So whether this excites or scares you, you’ll need all the advice you can get.
All aboard for discounts
One thing that’s for sure is that if you’re studying far from home, you’re going to need to get back now and again. Whether it’s once a term or every week and clutching a holdall full of washing is up to you.
You’re also going to need to do so as cheaply as possible and the best way to do this is by booking in advance tickets through Virgin Trains East Coast. Not only do you get the best prices available, we’ll also throw in free wi-fi too. Another essential investment is an 18-25 Railcard. This will get you a further third off many journeys. All those savings add up when you’re on a budget.
On the first day, freshers will likely arrive after having being driven all the way to the halls by their parents. Even worse, it’ll be in a van full of embarrassing childhood items that they’ll be mocked for still having in the coming term. There then follows a teary farewell as both parent and offspring realise that a tie is being severed. But do you really want a scene like this? Start as you mean to go on and be independent. Say your goodbyes at the front door and take the train instead.
Once you step aboard, you’ve also taken a step towards freedom and a new you. Trust us - you can get everything you really need into a suitcase and hand luggage.
What to bring
Clothes – Obvious really, but no need to bring your whole wardrobe. Rooms in halls are a bit titchy. Besides, you may notice your tastes changing in the next few years. Just comfortable and casual will do.
Laptop – Essential not only for actually doing some work but for staying in touch with friends. They may be still at home or scattered across the country at other colleges. You can also make full use of the free wi-fi and charging points on the train, if you book in advance.
Stationery – Pens, highlighters and something to scribble on. Sometimes you need to go old school.
Hot water bottle – Especially if you’re staying in rented digs. They’re not known for their cheap and efficient heating systems.
Headphones/earbuds – If you’re in halls, there will be noise and unspeakable sounds you’d rather shut out. Earplugs might help you get some uninterrupted sleep too.
Toiletries – Your basic stuff for staying clean – toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc. Guess what – you’re going to have to pay for these items yourself from here on in. So steal what you can from home.
What to leave behind
Your parents – As we said, it’s as much about learning to stand on your own two feet as studying. Don’t pine for mummy to tuck you in every night. But you are allowed to call them if you’re feeling homesick.
Pets – Not even a goldfish or a hamster. They’ll only end up poisoned or dying of fright during a drunken incident at a wild party in your room.
Car – Not unless someone else is paying. They cost a fortune to park, fill up and maintain. And public transport on student routes is usually very frequent.
Toys - Leave Teddy or Jemima the doll at home. Even if you can’t bear to be parted with them, do you really want to see your beloved toy meet with a sticky end in a student prank? It will happen.
Anything nicer than what everybody else has – It will either be permanently ‘borrowed’, battered or just go walkies. Stick with the basics.
Things you should get to know
Netflix – TV schedules are so last century. And the beauty is that you don’t even have to pay for it. You just have to know someone else’s password.
How to cook – You don’t have to be Masterchef – just understand the basics of preparing food. You’re probably used to being waited on at home, but all that has changed. Don’t stare at that cooker like it’s some baffling new technology – get to know what it does. It’s better than existing on Pot Noodles and takeaways.
Supermarket basics ranges – You’re on a tight budget and these cheap and cheerful everyday items may leave you with more money to spend on the essentials - like beer.
The benefits of coffee and energy drinks – Those pesky lectures get in the way of your partying. But if you’ve woken up with a thick head, these can be lifesavers. Not to mention meeting that deadline you’ve left to the last minute.
Just remember that anytime you start missing home comforts, Virgin Trains East Coast will be there to whisk you back to the welcoming arms of the old folks. And with cheap advance tickets, you don’t have to leave it too long.