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Letters to Freshers: An Off-Campus Fresher’s Guide to Uni

Dear Badger,

During my first year at Sussex, I frequently wondered if anyone else spent more time some days commuting to university than actually being there.  As a Fresher I was in the minority, which explains why pretty much all student advice I’d read online beforehand was intended for those living in halls.

Well that, and ‘off-campus student’ is synonymous with ‘doesn’t feel homesick’.  But as much as I yearned for the convenience, social life and independence that living on-campus can bring, I realised that the idea of us commuters having less fun in their first year is utter baloney, because…

  • Loneliness doesn’t last

Maybe you haven’t been assigned a group of housemates to get to know immediately, but once the academic inductions start, you’ll soon meet ‘your people’. And if you get talking to the other commuters on your course, you willhave in-jokes about Southern Rail’s passenger announcements in no time.

  • You still have the right to party (and attend Freshers week events)

I’d often subconsciously remind myself that while my on-campus counterparts were gearing up for a night of getting mortal and stealing traffic cones (so I’ve heard), I was watching Coronation Street with my cat.  But who says that just because you live twenty miles from where the fun is at, you can’t be a part of it?  Sure, you have to leave early or sleep on the floor (the only option if you’re driving, unless you’re prepared to skip the alcohol) but all-nighters become luxuries to look forward to.

  • Early is awesome (kind of)

Waking at half six knowing that most of your mates can roll out of bed just minutes before a 9am is painful, but do they get to see the sun rise on their way to the lecture? Or feel quite as awake and ready to learn as you do? You’re also more prepared for next year, when everyone moves out of halls and has to wake up (reasonably) early too.

  • Five-hour Friday *can* be eventful

If you’ve already looked at your timetable (eeek!),  chances are there’s at least one day with a great big gap between one lecture and the next.  But by the time you get home and make a cuppa, it’s time to go back.  If five hours in the library isn’t for you, break it up by going for a walk, attending a society meeting, trying mindfulness meditation in the Meeting House, doing a spot of shopping in Brighton… the list is endless.

But the best advice for any new student is to be cautious of ‘dirty pints’ – cider with Malibu may or may not lead to falling over on public transport, throwing away your return ticket and feeling like a squashed ant the next morning.  Oh, and check your belongings before leaving anywhere.  There’s nothing quite as awkward as returning to Chichester 1 ten minutes into the next lecture for that beanie hat you borrowed.

Holly June

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