First Night

First Night

 

Right, well by this point you’re all packed and ready to go. You’ll be staring at your car boot again, mightily impressed at how much junk such a small car can fit. You’ll have no doubt spent the morning stressing over what you’ve forgot and worrying yourself silly about leaving something vitally important at home. (Absolutely nothing is vital (other than, you know, life saving medication and stuff…) and you can always make a return journey to pick up anything you’ve forgot!)

Okay, so my advice for handling today with as few mental breakdowns as possible is:

  • Be prepared for everything to hit you at some point. It’s a stressful day and at some point this stress will get the better of you. It may just come crashing down on you all at once. Whether it’s in the shower first thing in the morning (yup) or in the car travelling up to your accommodation (yup) or when you’re confronted with a pile of boxes needing to be unpacked (yup) or when your parents say goodbye (yup) or when you settle down at night, by yourself and feel totally deserted (double yup).
  • Don’t worry about being upset, scared or worried because everyone is in the exact same boat. I remember looking about my accommodation for a good fifteen minutes, vibrating with nerves and feeling a hundred times worse seeing everyone around me laughing with their parents’ and chattering away to their new flat mates. But they were all feeling exactly the same way I was; self conscious, terrified, panicked, scared.
  • Make sure you know where you’re going! Google maps are great: Use Them. Make sure you know how to get to your accommodation and work out how you get to Uni, shops and fast food places. (Trust me, they’re going to come in handy a lot during Freshers’ Week.)
  • Expect to wait for a while to get your keys. I know this is not necessarily a big deal but if you’re already nervous before hand (and you will be), having to wait for an hour anxiously pacing and wringing your hands really won’t help.
  • When you have your keys, before you start to unpack go and check the size of your room and the layout of the flat. (I know this seems obvious, but a few people I talked to didn’t do this and ended up with half their clothes dumped in the kitchen on the first trip, forgot they were there and panicked thinking they’d left them at home. Man, I have such smart friends… Also, be careful on your way up stairs the first time, don’t rush. The last thing you want as the first impression your new flat mates have of you is the image of you going head over tail down the stairs. Trust Me. *shudders* )
  • Decide before hand how you want to tackle the unpacking. Are you going to bring it all up then start, or bring stuff up in batches? Are you going to leave bits of it until the next day? Just make sure to make your bed first!!
  • Set up your internet and phone immediately. It’ll make you feel better knowing you’ve got access to other people, especially your parents when they leave. Also having facebook/twitter open will make things feel more familiar and hopefully make you realise that everyone you know from back home won’t disappear off the face of the earth the minute you move away.
  • Don’t worry if everything feels too new and clean. It won’t last long. The newness or the cleanness.
  • If your parents or someone else is with you, it might be a good idea to go for a walk round about maybe down to the uni while you have someone there to help if you get lost. It’ll feel a lot more daunting having to find your way about for yourself the first time you do it. This’ll also help your parents. If they can see your surroundings, where you’re going to be studying and how you’ll get there it might make them more comfortable leaving you.
  • Keep your door open once you’ve unpacked, it’ll make it easier for your flatmates to approach you.
  • Don’t panic if you find yourself being the only one of your sex in your flat. When I first moved in it was only my two male flat mates there and I was in an absolute state, worried I was going to be the only girl. I even went down to central services to see if they could tell me when the other two were coming (I’m in a flat with five people total). Most Uni’s will not allow you to be the only girl in your flat, and usually won’t allow you to be the only boy either. (Although there is one ‘lucky’ chap who’s sharing a flat with 11 girls here. He was delighted at first, but soon came to realise the downsides of sharing toilets/showers and having make up, clothes and hair stuff thrown every where!)
  • Be ready for saying goodbye to your parents. It’s probably best to have a plan laid out, either your parents will leave after you’ve unpacked or they’ll go at a certain time. Not knowing when they’re going just prolongs the worry and fear that you’re all going through. I didn’t stick to my plan. In fact I ended up going with my parents to my gran’s house for most of the night (they were going to stay there and head home the next day). Because I went there I was just making it worse for myself, putting off the inevitable. Your parents will need to leave eventually. It will be difficult for everyone letting go and saying goodbye; you probably won’t feel ready to be left by yourself, you might feel scared at the thought of having no one to talk to, you might be worried that something goes wrong and you’ve got no one there to help, and your parents will most likely be torturing themselves with every little thing that could possibly go wrong and result in some sort of explosion or epidemic. But trust me, the sooner you can cut that safety net of having your parents there, the easier it will be for you to settle into your flat and into your life for the next three or more years.
  • If your flat mates have moved in on the same day then try your best to socialise with them. I know this is easier for some than it is for others but you’re going to be living with them for the next year so it’s best to make an effort. Try and wait until they’re settled themselves, it’ll be easier for you to have a conversation once they’re unpacked and their parents have left.
  • If there’s Freshers’ events on, see if your flatmates are going and tag along with them. I know partying and drinking are not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a good way to keep yourself occupied and helps you bond with your flat mates. I didn’t do this, I was too shy and wasn’t used to drinking and partying and things. I stayed in by myself that first night, which made it difficult for me to approach my flat mates about going out during the freshers’ week. It sort of set me on a bad trend, I guess. I’m not saying you must go out your first night there, but if you’re going to stay in at least try to talk to your flat mates, if not you’ll miss out on the chance to get to know them. And even if it doesn’t make a difference to your relationships in the long run, at the time you could feel as I did, isolated and not really able to talk to them.
  • If you aren’t going out, make sure you have something to keep you occupied. Read your favourite book, or watch your ‘feel good’ film. I stole someone else’s and watched Legally Blonde. It’s a good idea to keep yourself busy once you’ve been left on your own as it stops you thinking too much about all the things that are worrying you.
  • If you stumble in the door drunk, as many people do on their first night, at least try and remember that you’re now an adult and have to take care of yourself. That means if you throw it up, you clean it up.
  • If you have something to do early in the morning make sure your alarm is set and you do it, don’t put it off if you’re hungover or just scared. If not take the opportunity to sleep as long as possible. You’ll need to stock up in advance for when Freshers’ week really starts.
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