So You’re About to Become a UEA Fresher?

It’s not that long until the dreaded results day now and I know that on top of worrying whether or not they’ve got the grades to get in a lot of students will be worried about moving to uni. Never fear, I am here to demystify the whole thing. So settle back, have a cup of tea, and I will tell you my top freshers’ tips.

1. What (Not) to Pack: If you are moving into student accommodation for your first year then you may be worrying about what you need to bring with you. My first piece of advice for all UEA freshers is COATHANGERS. I can’t speak for all the residences but they definitely aren’t included in Norfolk Terrace and you don’t want to be piling your clothes on the floor of your cupboard.

It’s also important to PACK FOR ALL SEASONS. When you depart for uni it might be autumnal sunshine but remember that you may not be going home before winter and Norfolk can get very chilly. If you’re a tea and coffee fanatic like myself then it’s a good idea to bring a KETTLE as not all of the flats have them and the queue at the campus shop is very long on the first day if you try to buy one when you get there. You don’t need to worry about bringing things like toasters, we have industrial size ones in the kitchens and you aren’t allowed them in your rooms.

Bring things that remind you of home and fill your room with your favourite things. Bring those books that you can read again and again, the DVDs that you watch when you’re feeling down, even your teddy bear if you still have one. These will all help you feel comfortable in your new home and will cheer you up if you get a spot of the freshers’ blues.

2. Decorate Your Room: When you first arrive your room will probably look a little sad and bare, but please don’t be put off. Once you’ve put your bedding on, added some books to the shelves and posters to the wall it will look completely different. It’s a good idea to pack some photos of your friends from home and bring knickknacks to put on the desk. It’s a great chance to really create your own space.

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The poster board in my Norfolk Terrace room

3. Arriving at Uni: Your arrival at uni can be a very chaotic affair with a dozen other people trying to move their large suitcases through a small flat at the same time as you, but this is your first opportunity to meet your new flatmates so try and conquer any potential nerves and say hi. Once you’re in your room and unpacking, prop your door open so people can pop their heads in and introduce themselves as they pass. Everyone else is new and wants to make friends too so make it as easy as possible for yourselves.

4. Which Freshers’ Events to go to: Firstly, be aware that lots of clubs will be trying to take advantage of Freshers’ week and they know that the incoming students don’t want to miss out on ‘Official’ freshers’ events – therefore be wary of people trying to sell you club wristbands and know that only tickets sold through the UEA Union website are genuinely official events. Personally, I’d only recommend bothering with the first week tickets but if clubbing is something you really enjoy then you can still buy tickets for the second week events once you arrive and find other people to go with.

Don’t forget to go to the Freshers’ fairs, you can get great coupons to use with local businesses and sign up to over 200 hundred societies (although I would not recommend signing up to all 200). I’ll be at the Societies Fair this year representing the Drama Society, so please come and say hi if you’re interested in the society or have any questions.

5. And Lastly: If you’re unsure about something ASK FOR HELP. There are lots of people on campus who would be happy to help you however you need it. There’s the Students Union who have a drop in service, the Dean of Students, your academic advisors, and older students who have been trained to mentor younger students. We’ve all be freshers once so we know how scary it can be, but we’re here to make your transition to uni as easy and enjoyable as possible.

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If you have any more questions (or your own freshers’ tips) then please feel free to ask here or contact me at h.armstrong@uea.ac.uk

I am also now on Instagram so (once September comes around) if you’d like a glimpse of what life for a UEA student is like then you can have a look at hjp_armstrong.

Best of luck to all the A Level students (including my little brother which makes me feel very old)!

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Coping with Results Day 2015

Ah Results Day, I remember it… a bit.

For me it was two years ago now so of course it’s a little hazy, but that’s also because after checking I had got into uni via track I went straight to a friend’s house for cocktails.

It was a good day.

We were lucky in our friendship group as everyone had gotten into their uni even if they’d missed their grade offer, but I know it doesn’t always work out how you’d like it.

For those of you who got the results they were hoping for, congratulations, but to anybody who missed their offer or just didn’t do quite as well as they had hoped, don’t despair. Everyone will be telling you what you should do next, ringing your uni, going through clearing, etc, so here’s my alternative list of what you should be doing over the next 48 hours*:

  • This your results day, don’t let other people’s opinions about what constitutes doing well bring you down. If you’re happy with your set of results then screw the rest of them. Haters gonna hate.
  • If you are disappointed then try not to wallow in it. It’s not constructive and it won’t make you feel better – what will raise your spirits is a Ben and Jerry’s sandwich (I speak from experience).
  • Try not to give into panic and make rushed decisions. Going to university is a big investment, both of time and money, so don’t accept the first offer you get. Consider the possibility of waiting another year to start, this way you don’t have to make snap choices that might come back to bite you. Gap years are scary and exciting in equal parts, but they will give you infinite opportunities to grow and when you do get to uni you will know that you’re doing the right thing for you.
  • Just because you might not be off to uni in September doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate finishing school. Getting through A-Levels in an accomplishment in itself so go party! You’re young!
  • Or, and this is just as valid a choice, if you don’t think you want to be around people celebrating getting into their first choice university, take some time out. Tune out of all your social media and don’t watch the news. A night in with pizza has cured many a sore heart so it’s not an option to sniff at.

I hope some of this proves useful to people, but what I think I’m really trying to get at is that you need to do what feels right for you. Not getting the results you want is a temporary setback, just as getting into your first choice of uni only guarantees where you are in September – what happens after that is up to you.

So chins up everybody, it’s all going to be ok.

*This list is to be read in conjunction with all the other advice your school will be giving you about things like Clearing, etc

Take heart, soon UCAS will be a distant memory...

Take heart, soon UCAS will be a distant memory…