Feature: How to kick start your university experience straight away

freshers_group

Originally published on The National Student on 13/08/15. 

The results are in and your place to study [whatever] at the University of [wherever] has been confirmed, congratulations!

The fun starts now. Like, literally, right now.

With results day firmly in the wind and the associated nerves (hopefully) now dissolved, it’s time to look forward to the next big adventure, and with university creeping up in just a few short months, what better time to get kick-started on the fun than right this very second.

Yep, there’s absolutely no reason why you should have to wait until September to jump into the university experience. With social media and the vast realms of the internet at your disposal, the wait is only as long as you make it.

Obviously you’re not quite on campus yet, and lectures are still a little way off, but here are some examples of things you can immerse yourself in ahead of the big move.

E-meet your fellow students

Thanks to the never-ending benefits of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (to name but a few), the social experience of university has been somewhat replicated online in recent years.

Right from the word go, you’ll find Freshers-specific groups and pages popping up everywhere in relation to pretty much every single university in the country, with everyone eager to meet their new cohorts.

This is doubly effective if you already know where you’ll be living too – by joining a group based on your new halls complex, you might even find your future flatmates, saving the wealth of awkward conversations that usually come upon first meeting someone face-to-face. The same goes for your course as well; the upsides to the world being colonised by social networking.

Research the area

Blindly exploring the local area is all part of the Freshers experience, but doing a quick web search for nearby cinemas, clubs or even just supermarkets can come in terrifically handy when you come to finally moving in.

Knowing whether your local food mart is a Waitrose or an Aldi can make all the difference when you come to budgeting.

Not to mention that with the invention of Google’s alarmingly realistic ‘Street View’ function on its Maps feature, if you simply can’t wait to get a glimpse of your new home, you really don’t have to. At the touch of a few buttons you can take a virtual walk to the shops, have a wander around campus or even peruse the local bars, and all from the safety of your own home.

Obviously if you’re feeling extra adventurous you could jump in a car or on a train and spend a day walking around the place in person, but the internet is always the cheaper option.

Sign up for societies

In the first week or so of university you will no doubt be bombarded with opportunities to join the seemingly endless stream of societies on offer, but you don’t even have to wait that long.

If you have a particular hobby that you want to see progress, whether it be sports, or writing or even something more obscure like knitting, there’s nothing stopping you from searching online for the corresponding group and contacting their president or leader before term starts.

Even if you can’t officially join straight away, you’ll be able to gather plenty of information on how to do so when you do eventually get to campus, and you’ll certainly know the committee a lot better.

Additionally, you’ll also be able to see just how many societies your university actually has, and it might well give you some incentive to take up something new. Who knows what you might find.

Tour your halls

Much like the power of Google Street View, a great deal of university halls complexes now offer 360-degree tours of their premises online, meaning that you may well be able to get a sneak peek of your new digs before you’ve even picked up the keys.

Checking out the building itself will no doubt help put any nerves to rest, whilst a potential room tour could even help you plan exactly what to take with you when you move-in. The extra-organised new students will no doubt even start planning how to decorate too.

Start your reading

This one is entirely dependent on the institution and your educational department, but a great deal of tutors will make their reading lists and module outlines for the semester available before term starts.

This might be either through email, or a frequently used online tool called Blackboard (which you will no doubt become very accustomed to over the next few months), and it will allow you to not only add some productivity to your summer, but also get a better idea of exactly what you’ll be studying in the coming years as well. After all, university is still kind of about work.

The university experience starts here, get involved!

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