“I made my first friend at university by knocking on the door next to mine and asking if they wanted to go down for some food. Five steps, two knocks and one hour after settling into my room I’d made a friend. It is simple, and to be quite honest within a couple of hours of venturing out you will be too busy remembering names to be nervous.
Joining a sports club or society is one of the best ways to make new friends. The Welcome Fair has all the University’s clubs and societies right there waiting for you, and whilst I admit my first time was a lesson in politely saying “no” to most of them, my advice now is to make sure you say yes to those you will love as well as some you have never even considered. There is a chance it will become a defining part of your university experience.
Before university I had never even picked up a hockey stick, but I still headed down to Wyncote to give it a try. Was I completely outclassed and out of breath for the next two hours? Yes. Did I regret it? No way. Plus, the fact that I have been allowed in goal for two seasons of five- and six-a-side football does wonders to demonstrate that trying and being up for a laugh is just as important as winning.
Despite its importance, my greatest success at the Welcome Fair was not signing up to loads of societies so much as getting freebies. I am still gutted that I failed to win a t-shirt spinning the Baa Bar wheel, but it is never a bad day when you pick up enough Dominos vouchers to last your entire flat for a year, enough stationary for the rest of your time at Liverpool and a free trip to the cinema.
Using what is on offer, you can save all year round and get to know the city a little better too. For £10 a year the Independent Liverpool card gives you a great excuse to explore the city’s best independent bars and restaurants – although a stein and a brine for £8 at Salt Dog Slim’s is reason enough, trust me.
So now that I have made you hungry, it is worth remembering that student loans only go so far and the faster you start saving, the longer it will last. The first time I ventured down Bold Street I returned to halls with a wholly unnecessary bright orange plastic elephant. Jump to the end of first year and I was looking at a pile of Tesco receipts wondering how a catered student could spend so much on chicken dippers and snacks.
I learned my lesson though, and whether it is to save your money for a rainy day or another tour of Concert Square I would recommend taking note. Firstly, if you live on campus then ditch the small stores and head out to the bigger, cheaper ones. Aldi in St. John’s Market is a good place to start, and makes buying the essentials that little bit less painful. Similarly, finding out when the local supermarkets start reducing all their stock is invaluable.
Ask a second or third year what books they vitally needed to buy for a module and chances are they will tell you few, if any. Your fees fund two very well stocked libraries, as well as online access to ebooks and journals. They have all the core readings within their walls, so there is no rush to get a £200 hardback only to discover it has about four useful pages. Check it out in the library first.
Even if you have only just arrived, in just a few short years you will have left university and inevitably begun reminding the latest batch of freshers that these are “the best years of your life”. All I can say is make sure that holds true for you!”
Luke Watkinson is tweeting live from the Welcome Fair today on @LivUni. Use the hashtag #LivUniLuke to follow his progress.