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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

From discovering your pablo limit to figuring out how to work the oven, the first year of university can be quite the learning curve for some. Now that fresher’s week is officially over, excluding a postponed Starfields and those empty alcohol bottles yet to be thrown away, the excitement at the start of the year can give way to nerves, new-found obstacles and an abundance of questions. Here is a compilation of advice from older students to try and help our freshers have as smooth a year as possible.

Money and living

Though not the most exciting of topics, learning how to manage your money is a lifelong skill worth learning. With the recent rise in living costs, everyone (not just freshers) is learning the importance of budgeting all over again. One thing it is worth doing at the start of your first year at university is to look at your income, whether this be through student loan, a job or other, and see how much money you have to work with on a weekly basis. Then, try and estimate your weekly outgoings. Write a list of all the essentials you need throughout the week; rent, groceries, bills, transport, study materials, memberships… Doing this should then give you an idea of how much you then have leftover for those extra (although sometimes essential!) events such as nights out, alcohol, gifts and meals out. Being aware of your budget and whether or not you have gone over or under within a particular week  will hopefully make managing the large sum of a student loan less daunting and keep you on track week by week. 

Some tried and tested methods for keeping costs down include meal prepping or batch cooking, something that could be planned as your work out your essential expenses for the month; borrowing clothes from friends for nights out or buying from charity shops rather than opting for something new, this is also a brilliant way to help reduce fast fashion and lessen your wardrobe’s impact on the environment; trying to limit the number of nights your drink alcohol; buy second hand books or furniture rather than new; invest in a bike or a railcard to keep travel costs down (students in Scotland can also apply for a  free bus pass) and setting up a UniDays or Studentbeans account for discounts on popular brands and restaurants. 

Friendships/ Social life

University is often seen as the ultimate fresh start with opportunities to reinvent yourself,  find your ideal group of friends and attend every party in town. The first piece of advice to give regarding these topics is don’t. Don’t reinvent yourself. It is never sustainable and will only lead to  wishing you had been honest with yourself and others from the start. Three or four years will fly by so make the most of it by being true to yourself and throwing yourself into what you love, don’t disregard an aspect of your life just because it isn’t popular or trendy, maintaining your interests at university, or even trying something new, is a brilliant way to meet like minded people and create a diverse social scene. Similarly, don’t search for a “friendship group”, instead value those individual friends you meet throughout the year as each will add something different to your university experience. Too many of us make the mistake of trying to fit in with a clique and shut ourselves off to potential friends elsewhere. A key example of why being open to new friendships is important is housing; don’t agree to live with the first people you meet! Take your time to develop friendships and consider what you would like from a potential flat mate and keep in mind that freshers week or a night at the union is not necessarily the best indicator of how someone would behave as a housemate.

Some of the easiest ways to meet a wide range of people is to get involved with university life through academic families or societies. If you’re planning on playing a sport or joining your subject’s society, make an effort to attend the socials and get to know people with a similar interests outside the classroom or beyond the playing field. Don’t be intimidated by older years or age difference either, they can often become the most valuable friends to have, offering advice on where to go, events to attend, or how to cope once the semester gets busy. 

Making the most out of St. Andrews

St. Andrews is a unique and intimate place to attend university. Whilst we may not have the largest clubbing scene, if any, students here know how to make the most of the beautiful town and community we live in. Try to get involved with as many aspects of the university and town’s opportunities as possible. Find out about the university’s traditions, be it the pier walk, May Dip or something less conventional and give it a go! It’s often these traditions which make your university experience unique and memorable and in a town steeped in history these traditions can really make you feel a part of a larger, historic community. Similarly, St. Andrews is famous for its abundance of balls and formal events. Whilst attending everything within your first year is unrealistic, make a list of one or two events you would like to attend each term and save the rest for later years. Not only will this help with budgeting (unfortunately these events aren’t cheap) but prioritising different events throughout your time here as a whole will hopefully mean you get a chance to experience everything. Beyond the social life, parties and traditions, we are being taught by some of the leading academics in the world, all of whom would love nothing more than to talk to you about their subject! Talk to your professors and attend office hours if you have any questions. University teaching is much more independent than school so it is up to you to ask for help or question what you read and professors, far from being scary or bored by undergraduate questions, genuinely enjoy helping and explaining. 

While getting involved in as much as possible is an excellent way to meet people, build friendships and discover your passions, it is important to be able to say no. Your first year at university will fly by, and whilst it might feel like you have to say yes to every opportunity or invitation, it is more important to know when you should refuse and to be able to feel that you can. Listen to your body, freshers flu is far from a myth and  your immune system will thank you for a few nights of rest a week. Don’t feel that you have to match the pace of the people around you. You have another three or four years of drinking, minimal responsibilities and fun, there’s no need to squeeze it all into one week!  

Katharine George

St. Andrews '24

Katharine is the current Chapter Leader for the St Andrews chapter of Her Campus. She is currently in her final year at St Andrews studying Modern History and English Literature. She has interests in pursuing a career in journalism or publishing and has thoroughly enjoyed the experience she has gained writing articles for Her Campus. Her topics of interest include art and culture, campus news, wellness and the environment.