How to nail First Year at RoHo
I fucked it up so you don’t have to
I’m the first to admit that I wasted my first year at uni. I didn’t drink enough, didn’t make enough friends and studied less than I did for my GCSE’s. And now I’m a miserable third year with no money, no friends and no stories of amazing life-changing nights out on the town (NB: these kinds of nights will not happen at the Monkey’s Forehead).
This position is not ideal as a) it’s entirely my fault and b) the second and third years actually count, so your only real chances of partying every night and skipping lectures are available in your first year. So to make sure you don’t end up like me, here are some tips on life at RHUL that you may or may not find handy.
Join all the Societies
Societies can be really fun and a chance to meet like-minded people, even if your interests are zombie hunting (yes) or veganism (no). They both look great on your CV and give you something to do in the evenings once you realise Egham is a ghost town. Join at least one, if not all of the campus media teams, The Tab or more political societies such as FemSoc so you can let everyone know that you’re not a douche.
Indulge in drinking
If you’re not already a seasoned drinker, or weren’t brought up by alcoholic parents, don’t drop your loan in the campus store on 5% volume bottles of wine that you down too quickly to make it to Medicine. Or do, whatever. I came to uni armed with six bottles of wine (5% discount at Waitrose) and I quickly became everyone’s best bud at pre-drinks.
You’ll discover quickly that Medicine, sold to us as a Ministry of Sound-designed debauchery mecca, is the campus’ biggest disappointment, yet we still love it. The Toast event they have there on Monday’s was actually pretty decent the one time I went, but that doesn’t entirely detract from how it’s generally underwhelming.
At uni it’s ok to have a glass of wine in bed, and even more ok to have one at 3pm to fill the four-hour gap in your timetable, and it is totally ok to bring alcohol into a lecture disguised in your RHUL keepcup – it looks way cooler than a Starbucks.
Know that studying is actually quite important
Do it. You know that joke everyone busts out every time #adviceforyear7s is trending on Twitter, ‘start revising for your A-Levels now’? Start revising for your exams and reading your course materials ASAP. Let me tell you now I learned the hard way that when you actually read the books you’re meant to and do a bit of wider reading, you actually learn loads. The more prepared you are the better. Who knew it was that simple?
Make good friends
After studying and drinking, making friends is *apparently* the most important thing to do at uni. I’ve always been a sociable person, but to my surprise no one at uni wanted to talk to me. Instead of a large group of flatmates and extended buddies on my course, I have four close pals I fully intend on staying friends with long after we graduate. They are my kind of people, and it’s far preferable to have a small band of pals that you don’t have to try too hard to impress, than to struggle to sustain a conversation with Hugh from the Home Counties with whom you have absolutely nothing in common.
We all know of the horrors of the fresher’s five and guess what? It’s absolutely true! I’m fairly sure I gained the fresher’s fifteen, not five, but I did spend most evenings tucking into supernoodles and white wine. If you’re reading this and thinking it won’t happen to you, then you’re probably a student who eats air. In my Fresher’s Week I got a bit tubbier than usual, so I did something I never thought I was capable of – I joined the campus gym. It’s much cheaper than a normal gym membership and is actually pretty fun, although don’t turn up in a sports bra or crop top unless you’re ok with looking like a bit of a dick. But keep it up: it’s two years on and I’m still trying to shake off the Fresher’s weight.
Realise that we’re not actually in London
The biggest trick RHUL will play on you is calling itself a part of the University of London, and letting you think that means you’re fairly central. It’s not London, it’s Surrey. Some parts of Englefield Green don’t even have street lamps. On the one hand, it means higher maintenance loans, but on the other you’re actually miles away from anything interesting in London (Kingston doesn’t count) and it’ll cost you a fortune to get there. Egham, quaint as it is, will quickly become dull, so make the most of your trips into London (there are a couple around Fresher’s Week) and try to get off campus whenever you can.
This is my advice to you as a fresher, and it’s advice I wish I were given at the start of my first year that I’ve unfortunately had to learn the hard way. I will leave you with some parting knowledge and my final pieces of advice: don’t eat in Founder’s, it’s gross. Never buy a drink at Crosslands. Definitely go to the SU on Wednesdays. Don’t ever skip tutorials. Don’t bother with lectures. Always stay safe.