LIFE: A grandma’s guide to university

I arrived in Manchester to start uni a month ago, a year after all my friends and definitely a year after I was welcome at my house. Until the day I left I genuinely don’t think I had accepted what was happening, and only when I wandered back into the campus bar after saying adios to my parents (I know, hold me back), it actually sunk in what was going on. It was at that point I realised I couldn’t actually remember any of the advice I had been given, so I started doing the ol’ live and learn technique (it’s a fave of mine), and this is what I’ve gathered so far:

1. Unlike school, where either your key bungee or that highly respectable skirt length give away that you’re new to year 7, no one has to know you’re a fresher. So don’t be intimidated, act as though you know what’s going on, or at least as much as the next person new to a city with no friends.

2. On the other hand, if you really don’t know whats going on, don’t be shy to ask for help! There will be people actively there to answer questions, and it probably makes their day less boring at the same time as helping you get where you need to be.

3. Only do what you want. Especially freshers week, where the expectation is trusting people enough to go out somewhere you don’t know with people you don’t know. Unfortunately, this is the way it goes generally, so if you’re not comfortable; don’t do it! Or if you decide to go out (which I would advise), keep in a good mental state to deal with how to look after yourself. And first impressions last. Har har.

4. On the other hand, when it comes to opportunities to meet people outside of clubs or pre’s, GO! No one loves it, its usually awkward, and may even be something you never go near again, but turn up once, and you’re increasing your chances so highly. This goes for sports teams, arty things and even academic societies.

5. Bring room supplies! It’s amazing how much home comforts and touches can make your first few weeks in halls less alien. Uni rooms often tend to be really bare and have an impressive way of absorbing any decoration so bring it in abundance, like a teacake in a tutu. I’m really tired.

6. PHOTOS. Just bring them, in the bucket load (see #5), and put them everywhere.

7. Staying in contact. Nothing will make your parents happier than your voluntary act of communication. Calling when you can will not only make them super happy, but its always good to know they’re still there! And also is v good grounds for asking for more money etc etc.

8. Be ready for the ‘moments’. Once the first week or so is gone and its evident this is where you live now, it can appear a bit stressful. Even if subconsciously! Everybody feels it at one point or another, (it will come out) so roll with it, and for extra support, read #9.

9. Fooooood. Find your nearest Lidl and for the love of god shop there! It is so stupidly cheap you’d be doing yourself a disservice going anywhere else. If you’re super healthy and therefore someone I’m likely to be jealous of, skip to #10 now. For the rest of us failures, my advice is buy lots of comfort food! Just having yum things to snack on, (and like, actually yum things not ‘nuts’ and ‘dark chocolate’ those who are ahead to number 10 will direct you towards) will keep your mood boosted when you remember you actually have to work at uni.

10. If you’re new to a city, and therefore community, since you’ve chosen to be there and they’re nice enough to have you, it would be nice to do something to give back. Personally I think the easiest option is food banks and thanks to Lidl its even easier. £5 in Lidl will get you at least 10 tins that can be dropped off somewhere close, and will only cost you the equivalent of a double mixer. Do it for them and for your liver.

11. Don’t believe social media’s accounts of how other people are getting on. The fact someone’s tagged in 73 club photos from the last week does not mean they’re having an amazing time, or that they even know the people in the photo with them. The only way to know is to ask, so don’t compare without. Your experience will be different to anyone else’s.

Ta daaa. Obviously I’ve only been here a month and so far so good, but god knows what’ll change. So good luck to you and good luck to me :):):)


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