It hurts to admit but it has been ten years since I was a fresher. I am therefore best placed to give you advice on what to do with the rest of your week/life. There’s something that bothered me about being a fresher. It wasn’t so much that I feared being swirlied (I still fear this, I live in constant fear of this), it was more that it sounds like you’re already the victim of something. That aside, here’s my top tips for making it through and coming out the other side as a reasonable human being.
- Don’t take up smoking to be cool or bohemian.
More than anything this is a cost saving thing. I’m not against smoking although it will cause you any number of problems including death if used for a prolonged period. Cigarettes are really expensive. Even buying tobacco and papers is now out of your price range. If you need to do something with your hands then buy a Rubik’s cube or take up knitting.
2. It’s okay to sleep with nobody and it’s also okay to sleep with everybody.
As long as everyone involved is consenting to it and you’ve detailed your hard limits then go for it. If you want to sit in eating microwave pizza and binge-watching Lost cringing at the thought of contact with another human being then go for it.
3. Don’t even think about the debt.
Unfortunately we are stuck with a government who think education should be for the privileged and your fees are going nowhere my friend. Each month for seven years a slice of my monthly wage has been taken away before I even see it. I’m clear of storecard and credit card debt so I don’t think about my student loan. It’s just one of those things. Chances are I’ll be dead before I pay it off so I’ll be laughing at the Student Loan Company from Hell.
4. Don’t buy a kettle, toaster or microwave.
Every Diana, Blair and Tinky Winky (I’ve based these names on the big stuff that happened in the year you were born if you’re 18 and therefore of university attending age by my understanding) will have been bought a kettle, toaster and/or microwave by their parents (Lyndon and Caroline (again, I’ve based this on the big stuff that happened in the year your parents were born if they were 30 when they had you)). Check into halls and get a feel for the white goods counter before you head to the Value range at Tesco, the Basics range at Sainsburys or Asda.
5. Go to lectures.
Take it from someone who didn’t, it won’t help. It doesn’t matter how hard your hangover hits you at eighteen, it’ll hit you a lot harder at twenty-eight and then you’ll still have to go to work and pretend to do some adulting while sweating out ill-advised jagerbombs while you try to grip a venti something-mocha. Go to lectures and learn. Knowledge is power. She will probably still be there when you get back.
6. Cultivate new friendships but don’t forget those you had before.
You are going to meet a lot of amazing people. I see my friends from university as often as I can. Some of them have got married. Some of them have kids. Some have grown up adult jobs. Some of them still think they’re nineteen. They’re all great. What you have to remember is that you’ll also come home to your old friends and you might even move back home after university so don’t burn those bridges. Keep everyone who is good to you and for you close. You need them.
If there’s a time for regrets it is when you are at university. If there is a time to find out what you’re into it is when you are at university. If there is a time to find out what you’re not into it is when you’re at university. If there is a time to assist in finding yourself, it is when you are at university. Kiss a boy (if you’re a boy, or if you’re a girl, again, consent and everything else in point 1), try and start a band, try pilates or kickboxing or crochet or croquet. I kissed a few boys and a few girls, I kissed the Incredible Hulk, I started a band, I tried pilates. Your experience doesn’t have to be the same. You don’t have to do as much or any of those things but work out what you do fancy. Keep your hard limits.
8. Be a cheap bastard – except when it comes to two commodities; toilet roll and binbags.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you use cheap toilet rolls and binbags you are going to end up putting your finger through it and covering your hand in shit. Buy cheap fruit and vegetables because they’re still fruit and vegetables and you need that shit. Bulk buy pasta and rice because you need cards. Buy cheap bread because how else are you going to make a black pudding sandwich but trust me on the toilet roll and binbags.
9. Get student discount in as many places as you can.
There are websites dedicated to lists of stores and restaurants that give you student discount. Try here, here and here. You will miss that when it is gone. I’ve been fortunate enough to recently start a professional qualification which means I have regained the right to an NUS card and it is fantastic. I’m a discount pimp.
10. Enjoy it.
People are very quick to tell you that certain times in your life are the best years of your life. That’s bullshit. It’s what you make of it and how you categorise it. What I thought I wanted ten years ago is different from what I want now, that goes for both my life and a night out. I rarely want a Snakebite anymore for example. What I will say is that it’s the last hurrah for a lot of people before you have to get a job and commit and do all of those terrible things you’re partly putting off just by going to university so try and enjoy it. If you’re anything like me you’ll spend the whole time thinking about what a great anecdote it will make one day instead of enjoying the moment. Enjoy the moment and trust me on the toilet paper and binbags.
I’ve kept the cover under wraps for the longest time and it wasn’t until I saw it in all its glossy glory that I realised how special the work Adam had done on it was. LOOK!
The book will be free to download, along with the rest of my work, for the next five days.
I’m using the hashtag #FreePaulSchiernecker to promote it.