How to Survive Your First Term at University

28 Aug 2020 United Kingdom

*This post contains links to gifted/PR samples but all opinions remain my own*

It still feels like yesterday I was shopping in Ikea, picking up that cheese grater every student seems to have, buying way too many utensils one student needed, packing up my bags and heading off for my first year of university. The terms really do fly by and it can be quite difficult to really feel like you're making the make of your time there - studying hard while still haven't a great time/ For those heading off to university, here are a few things I learnt through my first term at university to set me up for a great first yearn and beyond. 

Packing & Preparation

Let's assume you already have everything packed and ready to go - all your photos and fairy lights to make your new room feel like home. All your kitchen essentials and toiletries are packed and ready to go. If you're wanting to make sure you're truly ready for your first term of lectures here are a few things to add to your list: 


The last thing you want to be doing is running around a new city trying to find a WHSmiths or Ryamn's in your first week. Make sure you at least have the basics. A few notebooks, highlighters and pens. Binders will be a God-send as well for arranging your notes from day one onwards. You will thank your organised-self later when it comes to revision! I loved having lots of different notebooks for my different lectures and modules; little places to jot down quick memos and to-do lists were super helpful! If you're looking for some cute notebooks for your first term, The Design Palette has some great little notepads that you are sure to love! 


At my university, we couldn't see our reading lists until after our first lectures but I recommend as early as you can to write out a reading list for your to term and keep it somewhere easy to find. It's a great way to keep track of what you need to read, when for and for what lectures. It can also help make sure that you can take out the book from your uni's library in time, and not having to panic when you go to borrow 1 of 2 copies of a book that is shared between 100 students to find, shock horror, there isn't one in stock. 

Once your lectures begin, staying on top of your reading when you can is one of my top tips - it's far from fun but getting it out of the way and having your notes written early for revision will save you so much trouble later! 

Your first week


For those of you not in the UK, Freshers week is the first week at university - a chance to get introduced to university life. From signing up to 20+ societies you later will never attend a meeting for as well as getting acquainted with the nightlife on offer at your university. By the end of the week, you will probably already have a well-formed opinion as to what your favourite night out spots will be for the rest of the week and which you will avoid in the future (Pop World - I’m looking at you).

I have a whole post with my tips on How to Survive Freshers week which includes some essentials to pack for the week. But, my main advice is to just enjoy it - step out of your comfort zone and get to know those on your course and the people you’re living with - everyone is in the same boat.

Communal living

If you’re living in student accommodation, enjoy it! It might not be The Ritz but you’ll be sure to have some funny anecdotes to share from the year. It’s a known piece of advice but it works: keep your door open! Say hey to anyone on your floor or block - you’re all in the same boat and will be living with them for a year.

It definitely can take some adjusting to life at university and I don’t know anyone who didn’t have a moment where they thought uni wasn’t right for them. It will take a few weeks to feel settled and that’s exactly what your first term is for.


It’s definitely tempting to blow all your student finance as soon as it hits your bank account but don’t make the mistake I’ve seen many do - spend it all on food and nights out in the first week to then live off pasta and sauce, 3 meals a day for the rest of the term. 

Meal planning

Try your best to plan your meals for the week ; even a rough guide of what you need and keep it interesting! My flat and I enjoyed cooking a few meals together - maybe once a week one of us cooking for the others who wanted in. Try some new student recipes. You might shock yourself at the amount you can upgrade your cooking at uni. 

Weekly shops

Where we lived on campus was pretty far from any big supermarkets so each week we put in a joint food order to be delivered each week. It was a great way to save time and money on shopping for the week. I rarely spent more than £20 on food a week and delivery was just 50p each! 


I seriously thanked myself in the third year for my savvy first-year self. It wasn’t that I was saving consciously but I learnt fairly quickly where to spend and save my money - I definitely put in a few too many ASOS orders but student discount was definitely a great one for that. 

Student nights we cheaper than weekend club nights, the restaurants around the city always had student deals, and we were still using vouchers we picked up in Freshers week at the end of first year. I could have definitely saved even more but I was lucky that I could live comfortably through uni, saving where I can but not letting it stop me from doing things in my first year.


Like I say, moving away from home and adjusting to a new place and way of living can be difficult especially for the more introverted type. There’s the feeling that you need to be out there, make as many friends as you can in your first week and be super interesting. But, that really isn’t the case. University is the place you will find some of the most like-minded people where you can find people to enjoy your downtime with or will completely respect if you don’t want to go on a night out and instead want to spend it curled up in halls watching repeats of Friends on Netflix.

Netflix Nights

You don’t have to be out, in a club or bar, with your housemates to have fun and get to know them. One of our nights at Freshers we were all completely tired so instead piled into one of our rooms and watched a film. It then became a bit of a tradition - Theroux Thursday. Exactly what you think - another Louis Theroux Documentary every week!

Time for yourself

Don’t be afraid to spend some time on your own - sitting in your room having some time to yourself, going shopping on your own, going for a walk. Do what you feel is best for you and don’t feel you have to be sat in communal areas every minute of the day. I’ve previously shared some self-care ideas for students that you might want to check out! 

These are just a few ways to help you make the most out of your first term but ultimately just enjoy yourself! The amount of work might come as a bit of a shock but the first term is there to ease you into the rest of your 3+ years at university so enjoy it! 

 Hope you’re doing great, Sarah x

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