From your fourth year fairy godmother: Here are 10 mistakes to avoid in first year

I’ve been there, done that, and got the T-shirt


Oh, to be a fresher again. We all remember that first breath of Leeds air, and really, after that, the rest is history.

The next three (or more) years will absolutely fly by in a blur of amazing memories, but to keep you on the straight and narrow, I’m giving you my top 10 tried and tested mistakes to avoid during the next nine months. Stick by these, and you’ll do swimmingly.

1. Getting with your flatmate

It’s a tale as old as time – no matter how attractive, charming, funny or interesting they are, don’t do the deed with someone you’ll have to see day in, day out for the next nine months. Unsurprisingly, this advice exists for a very good reason and whilst there’s always someone who strays down the path of semester-lasting awkwardness, try not to let it be you. It’s never fun.

2. Signing onto a house with the first group of friends you meet

During first year, people will come and go like the wind, and those drunken promises of best friendship that you made in the smoking area of a wristband event at Popworld quickly fade into hazy memories.

Despite this, plenty of freshers still fall into the trap of blindly agreeing to live with the group of friends they met in week one, and whilst there are some happy endings out there, more often than not, you find that the pals you finish first year with, are not those that you started it with.

So, when the manic (and entirely unnecessary) signing rush begins, make sure you aren’t swept into a house share that you’re not 100% happy with – after all, a year is a long time…

3. Not staying in touch with home friends

We get it – Leeds is shiny and new and exciting, and so are the friends you’ll make during your time here. That said, don’t forget your day ones – they’ve stuck with you until now, so make sure you put in the effort to take care of those relationships.

4. Spending all your money in expensive bars

Sad as it is, that student loan isn’t a bottomless pit of cash and if you want to be able to enjoy a pint this time in January, you’ll need to get acquainted with the more budget-friendly student bars in Leeds.

Leeds University has the recently refurbished Terrace and Old Bar, the latter of which hosts a very popular pub quiz on Thursday nights – make sure you’re there before 6pm otherwise there won’t be a table free in sight. For Beckett students, there’s The Hive, located on the City Campus, which is open 9am to 11pm, Monday to Friday.

5. Making Space on a Tuesday your go-to night out

Though Space is certainly an experience, there are so many venues in Leeds for you to explore. For basement bops, why not try Hi-Fi or Wire? If electronic music is your thing, there’s Old Red Bus Station, Beaverworks, Freedom Mills and Sheaf Street. There’s even a speakeasy jazz, blues and soul bar – The Domino Club – hidden away in Grand Arcade.

6. Doing your food shop at Morrisons in Merrion Centre

If you want to spend £40 on five ingredients, waste an hour of your day queuing and lose 10 pints of sweat trying to carry a week’s worth of food home with you, be our guest. Or, you know, don’t.

7. Getting an Uber everywhere

£7 here, £8 there. Gone are the days where a five minute journey would cost you a few pounds – you’d need to take out a mortgage to cover the cost of getting an Uber to every appointment, event and weekly shop now.

Instead, get yourself familiar with the public transport system in Leeds. The 1, 6, 8, 27 and 28 buses all run between Headingley and town, whilst Clarence Dock is serviced by the 29. There are also regular trains through Headingley and Burley Park, for the more glamorous amongst you.

8. Buying a meal deal every day

With the cheapest non-member deal currently being Sainsbury’s at £3.50, you’d have to be seriously rich to be able to afford a main, snack and drink every day. Though a trip into Blenheim Terrace’s Tesco is a treat to be occasionally enjoyed, you’re best off making a sarnie at home – is it exciting? No. Will it save you £17.50 a week? Yes.

9. Overlooking societies

We say overlook, but really, it’d be hard to – Freshers Fair has taken over Leeds University campus this week, with everyone from Taylor Swift Society to Motorsport Society in attendance.

If, however, you’ve somehow missed the hundreds of stalls, we’d seriously recommend checking out the various sports, arts, subject, wellbeing and general interest clubs available for you to join. Having an extra-curricular activity to look forward to each week is a great way to switch off from lectures and seminar work, and a chance to make new, like-minded friends that you’ll stay in touch with throughout your degree.

10. Underestimating your workload

First year is all about finding your feet, both at university and in what might be an unfamiliar city. That said, getting into a routine of coming onto campus and doing your coursework or assessments in plenty of time is always a good habit to have; all-nighters are as horrible as they sound.

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