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29 things to do when starting university

Starting university is daunting – but follow our list of things to do when you arrive and you'll make the transition without a hitch.

cheers beer and student at desk

Credit: Monkey Business Images (background), William Perugini (foreground) – Shutterstock

Amid all the hype surrounding freshers', it's easy to forget that there's actually quite a bit to do when you get to uni (that doesn't involve drinking).

Having spent your summer preparing for university, you'll want to get organised and settled in as quickly as possible. After all, this place will be your home for the next three years (or more!).

To help you make the most of your university experience, follow our checklist of important things to do when starting uni.

Before you set off, make sure you read the definitive list of what to take to university or watch our video on what to take to university.

What to do when you get to university

Here's everything you need to do when you start university:

  1. Download your free money cheat sheet

    student money resource

    Get ahead of money worries with our money cheat sheet – The Student Money Takeaway.

    Not only does it feature 55 of our very best student money hacks, but it also comes with a one-minute budget sheet and a quiz to boot. All on just two pages!

    Get your free printable PDF before you start uni.

  2. Check if the internet is working

    University internet has, let's say, a mixed reputation for reliability and infamously complicated setups. Get connected early doors to avoid internet withdrawal symptoms.

    Of course, if you're privately renting a house and not living in halls, you'll want to check out our guide to the best student broadband deals.

  3. Add homely touches to your room

    You're going to be here for the next nine months, so it's best to get comfortable.

    Hang up some photos (if you don't already have some, here's how to get free prints), lay down a rug or crack open a diffuser – whatever it takes to make your new room feel just like your old room, but better.

    If you're in need of a bit of inspiration, we've got a full guide on cheap ways to decorate your room.

  4. Make sure your room is secure

    Think of the door to your room as the front door of your house. You wouldn't live in a house with a broken lock, so check that your uni room is just as secure! Failing to do so could invalidate your student contents insurance.

    Oh, and while you're in the habit of protecting your possessions, check out our tips on avoiding being burgled at uni.

  5. Make your bed

    bedding with colourful cushions

    Credit: All About Space – Shutterstock

    There's nothing worse than sleeping on a used mattress without a sheet, so get your bed sorted out as soon as possible.

    As an added bonus, it'll make your whole room look a lot more homely and save you having to do it when you rock up at 2am after your first night out with your flatmates.

  6. Locate the bins

    Whether it's excess packaging from the move or just dozens of empty bottles from your first night in halls, you'll be needing the bins sooner rather than later.

    Find out where they are – both in and outside the flat – to avoid a trash tower emerging in your room.

    Of course, the best course of action would be to reduce the amount of waste you're producing in the first place. Our guide to cutting down on plastic can help you (and help save the planet).

  7. Stock up on snacks and cupboard staples

    Although it's undoubtedly one of the best ways to save money, you won't want to spend your freshers' week thinking long and hard about what to cook from scratch.

    Instead, fill your kitchen cupboard with food staples to make some quick and delicious meals throughout the week – and the year!

  8. Note down your address

    This might sound obvious, but given that you may well need to get a taxi back from a night out pretty soon, you should make a note of your address on your phone.

    Plus, it means you'll have it to hand when your mum asks for your address to send over anything you've forgotten.

  9. Keep your bedroom door open

    Everyone (and we mean everyone) in halls is nervous about making friends at uni, so don't feel like you're the only one.

    Other than going into the kitchen or communal area, the best thing you can do is to prop your bedroom door open while you're in there. This way, people can drop in and say hello without the awkwardness of having to knock.

    It may be daunting, but the friends you'll make over the next three years will make university worth it (as well as the degree, of course).

  10. Offer drinks and snacks to your flatmates

    They say that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. But if you ask us, it's the way to anyone's heart.

    Grab some beers or chocolates, offer them to your flatmates and you'll have friends for life.

  11. Start a group chat

    smartphone screen with social media
    Nothing brings people together like a group chat. You can share memes, rip each other to bits or just let everyone know that you've run out of washing up liquid. Either way, you'll instantly feel closer if you're all in a flat chat together.

    P.S. If you love saving money and getting the latest deals before they expire, our Telegram group is worth joining too.

  12. Get the lowdown on the freshers' fair

    When starting university, the freshers' fair is your chance to sign up to any and every society you're interested in, as well as bag some amazing discounts, top freebies and even free food.

    Chances are it'll be on in the middle of freshers' week, but find out exactly where and when it is as soon as you can. You won't want to miss it!

  13. Go to a social event

    As daunting as it may seem, the best way to make friends at uni is to get yourself out there and meet as many people as possible. So while we'd advise you to say yes to any invitations you get, we'd also remind you that you don't have to do anything you're not comfortable with.

    Clubbing and nights out aren't for everyone, and that's fine. But it's worth pushing yourself to attend the kinds of events you'd normally go to if you weren't worried about making friends or not knowing anyone.

  14. Complete your registration to get Student Finance

    Regardless of when you move to uni, you won't get any Maintenance Loan payments until you've completed your university registration. And the sooner you're registered, the sooner your student bank account balance will be sitting pretty.

    If, for whatever reason, your Maintenance Loan payment doesn't come in in time, check out our guide to surviving when your Student Loan is late.

  15. Register with your uni's GP

    In the unfortunate event that you're struck down with anything other than freshers' flu at uni, you'll need to use your university's health services.

    The last thing you'll want to do when you're ill is wait to register. It's best to do it early and save yourself the hassle of signing up when you feel least capable of doing so.

    Remember that you'll usually also need to visit your GP if you're suffering from mental health problems at uni and want to be referred for therapy. Fingers crossed you'll be ok, but it's always wise to be prepared!

    GP appointments are free, but some types of healthcare come at a cost. Check out our guide to getting free medical and dental treatments for more info.
  16. Get an STI test

    woman holding a condom

    Credit: Kaspars Grinvalds – Shutterstock

    While you're registering with the GP, sign up for an STI test and grab some contraception.

    Both are free when you get them from your doctor, and both are a good idea to do bearing in mind all of the new 'friends' you'll be making at uni.

    Don't feel embarrassed or ashamed about getting yourself tested. Aside from it being the sensible thing to do, as a doctor working in a university, the chances are your GP will be more than used to being asked for STI tests and condoms.

  17. Print off your lecture schedule

    At uni, you might not have as many lectures as you did classes at school, but that won't stop you from forgetting where you've got to be and when you've got to be there.

    Read our guide to getting cheap printing, print your schedule off and then put it somewhere safe – on your wall, in your bag, or wherever else.

  18. Start a budget

    We're all about saving money here at Save the Student, and there was no way that we'd do this list without advising you to start a budget.

    Don't worry, it doesn't have to be a drag. We've got a guide to budgeting as a student that should make it as easy as pie and leave you with a little more money to spend on freshers' week.

    Looking for ways to boost your bank balance? Read our guide on how to make money quickly.
  19. Go to your course inductions

    Sure, the induction sessions might not cover any of the content you'll need to use when you're writing an essay, but that doesn't mean they're not worth attending.

    Use the induction sessions as an opportunity to suss out your lecturers and ask any burning questions. Perhaps most importantly, you'll also be notified of any important changes (like a switch of lecture theatre – that always catches people out!).

  20. Get contents insurance

    You might have contents insurance included as part of your tenancy agreement in halls (check your contracts if you're not sure) or you may be able to take advantage of your parents' policy (again, ask them to check their agreement). If so, skip to the next point.

    If not, check out our guide to cheap student contents insurance. You never know when you might need it!

  21. Buy a bus or railcard

    If you think you'll be using public transport even slightly regularly, it's worth your while looking at the cost of a bus or railcard, as it could save you money in the long run.

    We've got info on student bus passes and the 16–25 Railcard (which gets you a third off rail travel), but keep checking our travel deals section for more special offers and discounts on travelling.

  22. Check if you need a TV Licence

    TV and TV remote

    Credit: Concept Photo – Shutterstock

    Unless you're only planning to watch your favourite programmes on a TV provided by the uni in a communal area, you'll need to figure out whether or not you need a TV Licence.

    Thing is, despite there being a lot of talk that you need a licence even to watch iPlayer, we've found a TV Licence loophole that means you might not have to pay at all.

  23. Be a tourist for the day

    If Google Streetview just doesn't cut it for you, how about a walking tour of the area? Or an open-top bus tour (if your town has one)?

    Whatever you go for, spending a day as a tourist and just having a look around is a great way to get your bearings and find your new favourite bar.

  24. Check out the local supermarkets

    If you do decide to venture out on foot, head to the local supermarkets.

    Figure out which shops have the best prices and the biggest selection, and keep our supermarket money-saving tips in mind. And, if you're feeling super productive, you could even do your first big shop at the same time.

  25. Visit the library

    The longer you're at uni, the more time you'll spend doing last-minute revision in the library. But that's no reason not to familiarise yourself with it as a fresher.

    Drop by during your first couple of days to establish where it is, whether it's got the books on your reading list (if not, here's how to get cheap textbooks) and whether it's the kind of place where you can work towards getting a first class degree.

    Just make sure to follow these tips to avoid library fines.

  26. Go to the university's gym

    Trust us when we say that you'll probably never get the chance to have a cheaper gym membership than when you're a student.

    So if fitness is your thing, check it out and consider whether it's worth signing up. If not, look for gyms in your local area offering a student discount.

    If all your options are still a bit pricey, worry not – we've got a list of cheap ways to stay fit without the gym.

  27. Find the laundry facilities

    Even if you don't know how to use a washing machine, or intend to take your dirty clothes home to your parents every few weeks, it's at least worth finding out where the laundry facilities are.

    That way, when you're ready to use them, you'll know where to go and how much money you'll be spending.

  28. Look at Foursquare and TripAdvisor

    We're guessing that you already had a look at what there was to do in the local area before you chose your uni. Nonetheless, TripAdvisor and Foursquare are great for discovering hidden gems that only the locals know about.

    Failing that, we've got a list of fun things to do for under £20 – who knew you could do an escape room or go go-karting on that budget?!

  29. Look for job openings

    Unless you've managed to bag yourself a hefty student bursary, or you're getting some money from your parents, the chances are you'll need to consider paid work to cover your living costs.

    Use our part-time job search to get ahead of the competition in your town, or use this list of the best paid part-time jobs and aim for work in these industries.

This is what you SHOULD do, but what about the things you SHOULDN'T do? Check out our list of the mistakes every fresher makes and see how many you can avoid.

Tom Allingham

WRITTEN BY Tom Allingham

Tom joined Save the Student in 2017, initially heading up the editorial team before becoming Communications Director. He has appeared as a Student Finance expert on a range of TV and radio stations including the BBC, ITV and Sky, sharing his top tips for saving money and cutting student bills.
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