This particular post of mine will be ‘out of sorts’ in comparison to my usual, meaty blogs on more worldly and grittier topics as it focuses largely upon little ol’ me and will hopefully give any first year Undergraduates a little insight into the transition from Fresher to second year, from Halls to renting, from adventuring the City, to being able to at least half-amble your way around without feeling like a lost bunny in headlights.
Aside from working any possible hours at my summer job in Monsoon and selling copious amounts of not only my own, but family and friend’s unwanted bits and bobs on carboot sales at the weekend, I have been organising all of the very grown-up and rather terrifying essentials which go hand-in-hand in moving into a rented house with four very lovely and awesome friends. On top of that, since the news that I have been lucky enough to study all of my chosen modules for second semester, I’ve been eagerly researching and investigating the content of first semester modules. You may think the latter sounds absolutely crazy – “looking into your upcoming modules before you even get your module-handbook?!” – Which even I can recognise could be considered a little too forward! Nevertheless, if you are similarly a crazed, over-panicked and ridiculously organised person, hopefully this little blog of mine will relieve your worries of “Okay, first year is all set-up and rearing to go, BUT WHAT ABOUT SECOND YEAR?! People rent houses, right?! Like, an actual house?!”… Not that I am speaking from experience… *cough, cough*.
So, let’s get down to business (feeling a little Alan Sugar in today’s post, evidently!);
Fresher > Very-Grown-Up-And-Conscientious-Second-Year (kind of);
“Make the most of being a Fresher,” is very likely to be the most-spoken piece of advice given to any terrified, worried-looking first year sweating over coursework/portfolios/exams in the Library (again, speaking from experience). During exams, my flatmate would constantly come into my room whilst revising and tell me to be calm, followed by my parents on Skype, who would reassure me that first year is about learning how to manoeuvre the very different teaching styles, grading and learning curves of University life when I didn’t get the 70% final grade for the year I had set my heart upon. Of course, this is not me advising you to go out every night of the week and put off trying your hardest, because no doubt you would regret those few extra sambuca shots when you’re sitting in the re-sit hall come September! However, I’m DEFINITELY telling you that you must still get out there, have fun, adventure around and explore regardless. Work hard, try your most possible best, but save the sweating over work for second year and even more so, in your final year when the dragon that is your dissertation looms its utterly-terrifying head (Lord have mercy upon my soul… and anyone who comes into contact with me during those dark months).
Living it up in Halls > Living in a rented iceberg (slight exaggeration… but it’ll be cold);
Halls are a blast! Whether it’s the guilt-free heater that’ll make you feel like a toasty cinnamon-bun, the flat-parties which help you make whole rooms full of friends and the blissful knowledge that you have a little space in this big, new, exciting City where you feel safe, can call your own, and watch multiple episodes of Game of Thrones whilst eating a whole pizza single-handedly, in your very own judgment-free zone, there is absolutely no-doubt in my mind that first year in Halls is a MUST. However, with the good, comes the bad, and the bad comes in the form of un-cleaned dishes, dirty kitchen-sides, ear-bleeding fire alarms during the early hours of the morning and dub-step parties above you the night before a big presentation. So, after grouping together with some pals you’re pretty certain you’d like to live with, the topic of renting a house creeps up! (Sidenote* myself and my lovely house-mates only had the courage to approach the discussion after a few shots for dutch-courage).
From there, it feels like full steam-ahead – questions start flying between everyone;
– What kind of price-range are we looking at?
– How close to the University should we be?
– How close to a Supermarket should we be?
– Which estate-agency is best for us?
And then from there, the house-viewings.
By the time the girls and I had chosen the house we wanted to live in, and a few shifts in who will actually be living with us had occurred, I had viewed so many houses that they all blurred into one in my memory and after closing the front-door there was no chance I could’ve even told you the colour of the living room! From there, contracts were signed, deposits were put down, and before long, paperwork for an actual house were placed into my organised hands and sorted into a special ‘house stuff’ folder. The latter, although it seems rather hectic (and honestly, it is), all runs through rather smoothly – with a bit of luck, you will find yourselves in the capable hands of an estate agency used to dealing with students, who can calm any of your worries and be there for advice or to provide information at any point through the process.
Once second semester exams had sluggishly-ambled by, my thoughts returned to my little house in my favourite City, but had the big, dark and fear-inducing cloud of ‘BILLS, RENT, MONEY, BANKS’ above it. Nevertheless, after a summer spent organising the direct debit and investigating the best possible companies for things such as water, electricity, gas and internet, not only do I feel *slightly* calmer, but much more learned in life! It’s been a bit scary, but with keeping in touch with the girls on every step I have taken on behalf of the five of us, I’ve somehow managed to do something which, at the start of my Fresher year would have made me hide under a rock. Forever.
My advice to you in concerns to renting a house, or other accommodation for that matter, is to stay calm. Do not be afraid to ask for help or advice from those who are there to guide you, whether that be your parents, the estate agents or even the University itself. It’s a challenge, but one which you will benefit from once it comes to renting a house after you have graduated with a nice, shiny Degree.
Adventuring the City > Understanding how to survive within the City;
Coming from the countryside, the thought of living in a stirring, opportunistic and diverse city like Leicester was incredibly exciting. Arriving in, living in and moving around in such a large city, however, slightly terrified me for the first month or so! With this being said, I still went out an explored and pushed down any anxieties I had about ‘my’ city and with each bus journey/walk in, the more my surroundings became more familiar and natural to me. Not only that, but I then knew which nightclubs I loved, or loathed, where to find the best bargains for fancy-dress, and most importantly, which pub served the cheapest grub! Do not be afraid to throw yourself into City living in your first year, I promise you’ll be rearing to get back there come second year, with the added bonus of being able to find the cheapest pint.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin.