The Tab’s tips to help you settle into UCL
Welcome to UCL! Here’s how to handle the first couple of weeks
Fresher’s week: the best of times, the worst of times. For most, it’s the first time you’ll have spent any longer than a week away from home and dropped into the stressful experience of actually having to make new friends.
The first few weeks are always daunting. You’ll be expected to mix with other freshers and work out which ones you like and which ones you never want to see again. But to be fair, this will happen whilst basking in the newfound delight of living in one of the biggest and best cities in the world!
The Tab is here to take pity on you and save the day- we’ve got a whole list of our top tips to help you smash your first weeks here!
Don’t stress too much about money!!!
The biggest stereotype about London is that it’s expensive- which it definitely is. But as any student will tell you, there’s ways to get around it (ex: don’t spend your whole loan in fancy central London pubs or fancy exhibitions). The UCL drinking Gods understand- and you can get plenty for your money in all of the university bars!
The start of term means that sweet, sweet loan has just come in- aka more money than most of us have ever had in our bank accounts before- and there’s no harm in using it, but just be WISE with it! Don’t be that person who spends the whole loan in the first week- there’s a whole term ahead. BE SMART.
We think it’s best to have a loose budget (and actually try to stick to it). But it’s OK to go over- it IS first year after all, and you shouldn’t refuse to do something because you’re too worried about your money. Check out apps like Dusk, which give you free and discounted drinks at a bunch of bars near uni, and get to know the best happy hours around – our personal fave is Simmons.
Prepare for the inevitable fresher’s flu (seriously… its unavoidable)
There’s always that one person who thinks they won’t get Fresher’s flu. Don’t be that person.
Fresher’s Flu sneaks up on you and then hits you like a brick and will probably leave you feeling sick for – well, the rest of your degree – so it’s best to prepare and stock up on medicine. You definitely don’t want to be the one coughing every 2 seconds in a busy lecture theatre.
Prepare ahead of time so you can cope- stock up on supplies! We’re talking paracetamol and Lemsip, and start taking them as soon as symptoms appear. You’ve been warned.
Make use of London
Whilst we’ve already pointed out that you don’t have to spend your whole loan on pricey London exhibitions and club nights, there’s still a million and one amazing things you can do in London that are cheap or free!
There are London student club nights every weekday in some of the most famous clubs in London. Monday night at Roxy, Tuesday at Ministry of Sound (it’ll make all your friends back home jealous) and Thursday at La Fiesta! We’re only just skimming surface of dangerously cheap night outs all across London. Invite some of your new friends out to try a new student night, you won’t regret it!
Clubbing isn’t the only thing to do as a Fresher, obviously.
Museums are everywhere- the Tate, the national portrait gallery, the V&A, the science museum… there are hundreds you can visit for free!
There’s also cheap and quirky evening activities, like a cheap weekday night at The Top Secret Comedy Club- for £9 you can see the likes of Jack Whitehall and Seann Walsh performing new material.
Make use of the student discounts
Unidays and Student Beans are going to be your new favourite sites. Using these guarantees you reduced prices, which in actual fact will be quite dangerous- now there’s no excuse not to buy those jeans on ASOS!
Student discounts are also abundant on Tottenham Court Road (the busy road next to Gower Street). Most cafés and shops have a 10% student discount which you would be crazy not to take advantage of.
Be aware of Meningitis- it’s a real thing. REALLY
At university you’ll be advised to get a vaccination against Meningitis- the mix of new people means there’s a higher risk of infection. We’re not joking when we say you really should get the vaccination if you haven’t!
You’ll be relieved you had the jab when you start hearing the stories of one of your unlucky friends getting viral meningitis and missing 2 weeks of uni.
Learn how to navigate the London transport quickly
London transport can be especially daunting for those that have just moved here.
We recommend using citymapper to navigate London- its much better than google maps, and gives you live updates on public transport. London Transport can be so expensive- we promise it’ll be worth it to spend some time working out how the TFL pricing works to get the most discounts.
There’s a Hopper Fare discount- pay only £1.50 for unlimited buses or trams in ONE hour.
If you don’t use public transport that often (aka if you’re lucky enough to live close to uni) then you can just use a normal oyster or contactless card.
Student discounts are where it gets more tricky- but it can save you SO MUCH money in the long run.
The 18+ Student Oyster Photocard gets you 30% off on all Travelcards and Bus/ Tram Passes. You can also pay £30 for Railcards which can be linked to oysters to get you 34% discounts on off-peak Tube, Overground and TFL rail journeys.
Be open minded!
This is University- try something new! Go to freshers fair and sign up for things you wouldnt normally do- societies offer multiple free sessions so there's literally no harm in going to check it out.
Try a sport you've never done before, hang out with people you wouldn't normally hang out with! Chance are you'll enjoy it, and even if you dont, it'll still be a good experience.
Go forth freshers! And remember most importantly- ENJOY YOURSELF!