Making the transition to Uni is both an exciting and daunting one. Why wouldn’t it be? Don’t worry though! I have some great tips I discovered during my first year. Keep reading for 20 tips for freshers at the University of Roehampton that are sure to make your first year easier!
1. Before you start, find out who your flat rep is.
If you’re living on-campus, you’ll have one or two second or third years living with you and helping you get settled in to uni life. Once you find out where you’re living, find out if any Facebook groups have been created, or check out the Roehampton Fresher’s Chat group and see if they’ve posted on there. Knowing who they are and what they look like will be handy on move-in day, as they’re the ones who will have the keys to your flat. Plus, you might even find out who else you’ll be living with!
2. And join all the relevant Facebook groups.
The main one is the Roehampton University Freshers, where pretty much everyone in the uni posts anything from updates to just… chat. But you also have the Roey black market, where you can go to buy and sell things, including unwanted BOP and Fez tickets and even rooms that are available off campus. If you want some fun, there’s Roehampton Overheard. And, of course, if there’s any societies you’re interested in, join those groups so you can find out a bit more.
3. Go to the college icebreakers.
The on-campus icebreakers are free events held by each individual college on move-in day, and it’s great for getting to know people both inside and outside of your flat and possibly also on your course. I got to know some of my flatmates better at the icebreaker, when at the flat I was both busy unpacking and too shy, and ended up gaining some great friends out of it.
4. And your course induction.
Your course induction is a few hours when you find out more about what you’ll be doing and who your lecturers are, so it’s useful to go. You’ll also get to meet the people you’ll be sharing classes with, so they’re not just strange faces when you walk into your first lesson the following week.
5. At Fresher’s Fair, sign up for any society that looks interesting.
We have loads of societies, so there’ll be something for everyone. Like Harry Potter? Find the Hogwarts society. Like acting? We have the Roehampton Players and SSOAP (Student Society of Art and Performance). More of a sporty person? We have a variety of sports available, both competitive and casual.
From this year, all societies – except for LGBT+ and SWAN (Students With Additional Needs – have to charge a membership fee, but signing up for more information is free, and you can make your mind up then.
6. Find out who’s who on your course.
One thing about university is that you’re encouraged to be more independent when it comes to studying, but your teachers still want to help you. So, if you encounter any problems course-wise, it’s good to know who the person to go to is. It’s always helpful to find out the names (and emails) of not just each lecturer, but your Personal Tutor, your Head of Year, the Department Head and the Course Administrator.
7. And who’s in the SU.
Likewise, the Student Union has a group of people you can go to if you need help with things like teachers (VP Education) or mental health and discrimination (VP Welfare and Communication). They’d be able to offer advice and direct you to other people you may need to talk to.
8. Before you spend money on textbooks, see if they’re in the library.
Instead of spending money on textbooks you might never use again, check to see if they’re in the library catalogue, which you can find online. You don’t need an account to find each module’s reading list and see how many copies there are of each book, and the catalogue is pretty easy to navigate.
9. If you’re looking for a cheap night out, go to Grand, Fez or BOP.
Grand, in Clapham Junction, is every first Monday of the month (or the semester, not including Fresher’s week), and offers themes. Fez, in Putney, is every Wednesday. BOP is the SU’s creation, held every Friday at the Union bar on campus. Like Grand, each week is themed. Most BOP tickets can be bought on the door, but on the more popular weeks, you can get them in the SU offices opposite the bar.
Each one only costs £5 and, for Grand and Fez, that includes buses that take you there and back.
10. Bring something to deal with the building works.
Especially if you’re on the main campus. Soon, we’ll be getting a brand new library, but it’s still in progress, so unfortunately you may have to deal with hearing construction – which can be very annoying in the early mornings, especially after a night out. Bringing something like earplugs will help muffle the sound, so you’re much more able to enjoy your morning off.
11. And be aware of fire alarm tests.
Back in my first year, I had Wednesday mornings off. Which was great… until the fire alarm starting bleeping. They test it once a week, which is helpful, but not when you’re trying to sleep or get some work done. Knowing what day and time the tests usually are means you can avoid the inevitable headache. But beware – if it lasts for more than ten seconds, it’s not a drill.
12. If you have fancy dress, bring it!
Like I said before, BOP has a theme every week and, while fancy dress isn’t exactly enforced, it’s a lot more fun when you do dress up. So if you have a costume, bring it! You never know if you might need it.
13. And if you have formal wear, bring that too.
Each year, we have the Winter Ball and the Summer Ball. The Winter Ball is held by each individual college, and usually includes a sit-down meal. It’s not exactly black tie, but if you want to go, you’re still expected to dress up. The Summer Ball consists of two parts: the afternoon, where it’s casual wear, and the evening, where it’s formal wear. If you own any of it already, it’s helpful to bring it along, as you’ll end up saving a bit of money that can be put towards drinks.
14. If you need to get a job, try Unitemps.
Unitemps is the job-hunting place on campus. Currently located in the library, they can help you find jobs both on campus and off, from reputable employers from the surrounding areas, like Roehampton, Kingston or Wandsworth. They also post internships and summer jobs, and it’s worth giving it a go if you need that extra cash.
15. You will get used to seeing squirrels and crows everywhere.
It’s not unusual to see a squirrel rooting around one of the bins for food, only to pop out and run away as soon as you get near it. Likewise, the crows tend to hang out on the bins near the library and look for food there. Sometimes, if Wired, the library’s internet café, has a window open, you might even see a squirrel come in.
16. Actually, get used to seeing wildlife everywhere.
Roehampton has one of the greenest campuses in London, so you’re probably going to see some kind of animal wandering about, other than just squirrels and crows. There’s been badgers, foxes and geese, among others.
17. If you ever need to get that essay done without procrastinating, Wired is always 24 hours.
As mentioned before, Wired is the library’s internet café. While the library is 24 hours at specific points in the semester, usually the end, you’ll always be able to get into Wired – although food does stop being served at a point, so you might want to bring some snacks. All you need is your Roehampton ID card to get in, and then just log onto a computer and go! I know at least one person who managed to do the majority of their essays in the middle of the night at Wired, simply because it helped them concentrate a lot more.
18. Find the secret shop, and you’ll save that walk to co-op.
The “Secret Shop” was the name my flat reps gave to the Londis that’s tucked away opposite Southlands college, as very few people are able to find it unless they’re told about it first. If you’re living on the main campus, especially Southlands or Digby Stuart, then it’s easier than walking all the way up to Danebury Avenue for co-op or Premier. For a convenience store, it’s actually quite good, and there’s usually some sort of offer going on. If you need to get an Oyster card as well, then it’s a good place to go.
19. Get an NUS card and take advantage of the offers.
However, one thing Londis doesn’t have do Co-op does is accepting NUS cards, which gets you money off. There are many other shops that take NUS cards, or Roehampton student IDs, so it’s always good to have it on you. It costs about £30, but if you use it often, it’ll pay for itself in the end.
20. Need some clothes? Try the Growhampton thrift shop first!
Once a week, the Growhampton market is held on Digby Stuart and Whitelands colleges. There, you can find things such as artisan bread and pre-packed veggie bags. But they also have a thrift shop, where students donate unwanted clothes, shoes and books, and you’ll be able to buy them very cheap. Because they’re donated by students, there’s always something good there. Most of it never costs more than a couple of quid, so it’s great if you need something for a BOP, or if you just want something new in general. Plus, your money will go straight towards Growhampton, helping keep The Hive going as well as funding its sustainability projects.
Have any other tips for Roehampton Freshers? Feel free to comment below and share the article!
Featured photo source: wordstodeeds.com
I've just completed a Creative Writing degree at the University of Roehampton. When I'm not writing, I'm often exploring the city, or nerding out over something.