When you go to university, it can be intimidating. Especially so if you’re the first person in your family to go, but even if you’re the latest in a long line, hearing about the university experience is very different from actually leaving home to live alone and make a fresh start in a new city.

Today we’re looking at how you can approach this steep learning curve and learn the ropes quickly, whether you’re settling into Oxford halls of residence or Sheffield Hallam accommodation for students. Universities and towns may differ but the student experience has some common ground wherever you in the country or indeed the world!

A Home

In your first year you’ll likely be in a big block of accommodation with lots of other students. You’ll have the chance, as part of the structure of applying for and accepting your place, to choose from the accommodation on offer, and balance your needs against the costs. It’s worth bearing this choice in mind when you’re looking at universities, and talking to existing students if you can. Some halls of residence will a reputation for being very sociable, party spaces while others are quieter. You need to pick the one that fits your character – if you need somewhere to retreat to and rest you’ll feel battered and exhausted by a party hub, and if you intend to fully embrace the social side of high learning, a quieter hall of residence will leave you with constant FOMO.

Once you’re moved in, take advantage of initial meetings, orientation sessions and social events to meet people and start to get the lie of the land. You’ll need to understand what the rules are, both written and unwritten and who to appeal to when things go wrong.

Campus

Early on, take a walk around your campus. Learn where the important buildings are for you so you’re running into lectures late and confused. Work out how you’re getting from home to your lectures and seminars, especially if you have any that off the main campus.

Navigating the library is another hurdle you need to jump early. There should be tours and introductory sessions available to help you learn how you’re going to find the information you need.

Friends

This is all a bit dry, but fortunately we’re onto the fun stuff. One of the most important things about university life is finding a new circle of friends. They can support you, help you if you’re feeling low or overwhelmed just as much you enjoy the good times together.

Finding the right friends is vital – you need to people who understand you, and who can push at your boundaries a little without forcing you to live outside your comfort zone. You might be luck enough to find that the people you’re nearby in halls are a perfect match for you. If not, all is not lost! Student Union support dozens if not hundreds of clubs and societies for all sorts of different interests from making theatre, performing comedy, playing sports or watching films. Going to a few meetings and finding some like minded people is the perfect way to build friendships that will see you through university and many years beyond!