Pull up a seat and get comfy, this is Aunty Lu’s guide to getting through the first few weeks of university and savouring the things that will only happen once during your time in Leeds. These are the tips that I wish someone had told me, and is basically the young adult version of the Birds and the Bees. Trust me, you’ll need it to wade your way through the people shoving leaflets into your hand outside the union and the long list of Facebook events with Z-listers appearing at Pryzm.
Relish in the luxury of branded alcohol: Savour those drops of sweet Disaronno nectar on your lips, because you will not be seeing it again until your next birthday. By the end of October, if not sooner, you will be consuming Cassini. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s Lambrini’s uglier little sister, and it tastes of piss. Don’t think it won’t happen, because you will get excited when you see your first student loan come in and then you spend most of it, leaving you reduced to drinking the cheap stuff. Be sure to keep hold of the spare change jangling around in the bottom of your bag/sockdrawer too, as there will be a lot of “so-and-so’s best friend from Block A’s” birthdays, and the otherwise useless coins can go a long way into buying you some of the cheap stuff.
If you’re not BFFs with all of your flat, it’s okay: As you step into your new flat, full of optimism about how you will all be bosom buddies, be aware that you are all brought together by sheer chance. It’s like a lottery, only instead of money it’s chancing whether or not you’ll be stuck with the person who insists on making a smoothie early in the morning, every morning. Everyone is in the same boat though, and there is just no possible way an anonymised system of sorting people into halls will result in your entire flat being joined at the hip. Be content with the fact that you’ll probably only really love one of your flatmates and the rest you’ll be hiding from in second year via the frozen food aisle in Co-op.
Organised fun in freshers: This is a tricky one – the freshers events are constructed with the sole mission to bring people from all over the globe together in one sweaty, foam-soaked mess. Now, I’m personally not a fan of being soaked in bubbles whilst wearing neon-paint, but as a fresher, embrace such events because this is the only time you can lose all your dignity without fear of judgement. Dig out your old school tie, and keep on your dad’soad good side, because for some reason golfing attire seems to be a popular dress-up theme. This is your opportunity to meet people, make bad decisions, dance to Atomic Kitten and bask in the fact that hundreds of other people are doing the same thing. Enjoy it, because by second year it’s likely you will have started smoking roll-ups, adopted New Balance’s as a key accessory and have deemed yourself above such frivolities.
Limit yourself to one big blow-out: I think I kept Amber Cars in business for the first few months of uni; I really thought I was Carrie Bradshaw, rich beyond my wildest dreams) and ready to take a taxi anywhere, even if it was only five minutes down the r. I went to Harvey Nichols, spent £200 a pop in Topshop and constantly ate out – to this day I remain shocked I didn’t give myself gout. However, the various Chanel products and money in my pocket enticed me into a false sense of financial security until by November I was broke and none of my clothes fit.
One budgeted blow-out is absolutely fine and expected – most people have never had as much money in their account in one go – but be prepared that if you go wild with it, you will be living on Tesco value tinned chicken soup for what seems like a million years and will have zero university supplies. This, surprisingly, is actually what the money is intended for.
So remember, spend your loan wisely, lower your standards of alcohol dramatically and most importantly, enjoy yourself.