Attention Freshers: Here’s everything I wish I had known before starting second year

You can thank me later


Having now finally accepted that I am actually a second year and no longer a Notts newbie, I can safely say that freshers is long behind me, and let me tell you I’ve learnt a lot. Me and my housemates have made all the mistakes so you don’t have to.

Picture the scene: five naïve 19 year old girls moving into a house in Wollaton, yes, there is a world of student housing outside of Lenton, looking at the front of our new house thinking ‘Wow, this really is grim isn’t it’. I wish I could tell you I was joking but Covid meant no house viewings for us and the front of our house is not pretty.

Over the past year of living out of halls we’ve lot a learnt of tips and tricks to independent living, so here are the Dos and Don’ts of life as a second year that I wish I had known before I started.

Do make your uni house feel like home

Cringe, I know. But let me tell you, you’re going to need it. I’m talking pictures on the walls, decorating for holidays and mementos from nights out. Your student house is always going to be questionable but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to make it nice and homey. The immense pride you’ll feel when someone says “your house is really nice” makes it all worth it.

Spooky Scary Signs

Don’t forget about bin day

So, you’ve made your house nice. Great. You know what’s not great? Bin day. Now I don’t know how much you all know about your local bin days but in Notts our bins get collected fortnightly. It alternates from recycling to general waste and here comes a big piece of advice.

This one comes from a place of deep trauma for the members of my house. One week we forgot bin day. The next two weeks we were swimming in recycling, ranging from empty jars of pasta sauce to weetabix cartons to Domino’s boxes. If there is one piece of advice you take from this article, it should be to always remember bin day.

I know, believe me I know, the bin stinks. We were used to our parents taking out the bin, just like you probably are but your parents aren’t here and someone’s gotta do it. I don’t care that you took it out last week, take it out again. It reeks. Plus your mum will comment on it when she comes to visit and trust me that’s the last thing you need. 

Don’t put off doing your food shop

If you’re in catered accommodation like I was, this one’s for you. Lidl. Oh Lidl. That magical building under Notts 2 with the worlds best brownies. Now, I don’t know where all you first years are living – maybe your local is the Beeston Tesco or Lenton Sainsbury’s or if you’re rich, maybe M&S food in town.

But wherever you like to shop the same point applies, just go do it. I know its a workout if you’re dragging bags full of pasta sauce jars up Derby Road, but trust me on this one: you don’t want to be eating struggle meals. One of my housemates had a plain untoasted not fully defrosted bagel with some lettuce leaves on the side the other day. When it’s the third time you’ve had plain pasta in the week you really start to regret your life choices.

Don’t try the recipes you find on TikTok

In my house we’ve had all sorts from food poisoning from pasta to dropping an entire meal down the door of the oven. Trust me just don’t bother.

Do make sure you’re spending time together with your housemates

Speaking of the people that you share your kitchen with, that’s another big one. You’re literally spending all day with these people so the least you could do is talk to them. Sitting around the table for dinner is a true bonding moment for the house and a highlight in the day. Plus the gossip does not stop in first year – I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve discussed who necked on with who in Rock City last Friday night. If we can make it work with only a four seater table for five of us then I don’t want to hear excuses.

Do attend everything

Let’s talk about uni work. Let me tell you: missing your lectures and seminars in second year is no where near as fun as first year. You miss one seminar and suddenly you’re 10 weeks behind. It’s just not worth the stress so keep on top of the workload. No one wants to turn down an Ocean Friday because they’ve got a coursework due in on Monday.

Just me and my Turnitin report xxx

Don’t just put your all clothes in together and hope for the best

Washing machines. Now that we’ve all washed our clothes at uni at least a couple of times you’d think we’d learn. You’re wrong. I’ve put a red hoodie in with my white clothes before thinking it’d be fine. It wasn’t and now my clothes are all a little pink. I face-timed my mum in a panic and she said: “What am I meant to do about it?”. Now I wear pink clothes. I don’t even like pink.

Do enjoy first year

Now here’s the final tip for you first years. I know, you thought this couldn’t get any cringier but here I am. Honestly though, you’ll spend an unreasonable amount of time talking about how much you miss first year. You’ll reminisce about the good old days and talk about the things you’d rather forget. I’d tell you about our first year but I think my housemates would evict me. At the end of the day, in second year things get very real so enjoy first year while you can. That being said, make sure you pass the year otherwise you’ve read this for nothing.

Related articles recommended by this author:

• Just because first year doesn’t count, doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter

• A definitive ranking of Notts halls based on what really matters: vibes

• Take this quiz and we’ll tell you which Nottingham club you are