Hey guys! First of all, I wanted to throw in a quick thank you here to you all. I received such positive feedback on my post last week, thank you for the love!! ExploresMore has been booming, and I am so so grateful for it. Now, on to the content 😉
Starting college is an incredibly exciting time. However, that might not stop some nerves from springing up. Starting Uni is a big step; most people move out of home, to a new place filled with new people. I moved not only to a different country, but to a different continent. It can be super scary!
Today I wanted to share some tips with you guys, things I wish I had known a year ago. Starting college is filled with so much change, and for those of your going through it, I hope that this post (from one college “newbie”, or, erstie here in Germany to another) can help you guys out.
» Before Arriving «
- Figure out your living situation. – For incoming freshmen in the USA and Canada this might be different, but for the most part European students are left to fend on their own when it comes to finding housing. In Europe student residences are quite rare, and if they are available, there are only very few spots. But, I’d still apply as it tends to be the cheapest living arrangement! Most common in Europe are students living in their own apartment, living in an apartment with anywhere for 1-5 other students, or still living at home during college (very popular in high-rent cities such as Munich). Don’t leave finding housing for the last minute, it’ll be the last thing you want to worry about once you get there.
- Begin reaching out to people if you have the contacts. – Before moving to Munich I knew exactly one person (the son of a friend of a friend that my mother met at a wedding 20 years ago). I got the email address and sent him a message. It just happened that he staying in Los Angeles that summer, and we met up for a day. And viola, a first friend. Just the fact that I knew one person where I was going made everything so much easier.
- Do some research on your new city. – Did you know that I didn’t know that Oktoberfest took place in Munich before living there? Before moving to Munich I had never even been to this part of Germany, and researching cool activities I could do once I got here just made the whole process more exciting. Ditto for Paris back in 2014.
- Get bank accounts, insurance, phones, internet, etc. set up. – Taking care of the small “annoying” stuff will make moving away and starting college so much less stressful. For example, I found out that there was no WiFi in my first apartment, so I bought the proper cables right away to get an Internet connection set up.
» Settling In «
- Unpack ASAP. – The quickest way to feel at home when arriving in a new place is to fill your new space with your things. Fill that closet with your clothes, put the sheets on your bed and set those photos that you brought along on your new desk.
- Get your “life” setup. – Get internet done, your phone working, any necessary appliances, towels, cleaning supplies, etc. immediately. It’ll make your new living situation feel like a second home a lot faster.
- Get out and explore. – Becoming familiar with your new surroundings is key to feeling comfortable and at home. When I’m in a new situation I tend to get homesick quite quickly, but instead of staying in and crying in bed, I’ve always put those sunglasses on and taken a walk around my new neighborhood. It’ll be the best possible cure, every time.
- Set up your hobbies/favorite activities. – Did you love tennis back home? Find a club! Are you obsessed to pottery classes? Pick one to attend in your new city. Doing things like this will make your new life seem normal much quicker. I’m guilty of having taken a full year of living in Munich to get around to this one, but starting in two weeks I’m hopping back into the pool as a distance swimmer (something I loved in high school).
» Meeting New People «
- Go to the orientation events offered by the Uni. – Fact fact: I met every.single.person. I am friends with out of my English degree at our orientation a year ago. I kid you not, every friend from my degree is a result of that day. But that’s what these orientations are for: they set up games, dinners and activities because the student committees know that everybody wants to make friends!
- Never forget, everybody is new. – The room full of people is like a blank page, waiting to be written on! (sorry, that was so cheesy I know). However, chances are that almost everybody is looking to meet new people as much as you are. Keep this in mind, bite the bullet, and approach somebody standing alone. Ask what classes they have, where they’re from, or what they’re going to be studying!
- Join clubs, teams, etc. – While I personally didn’t do this, several of my friends did this at the beginning of Uni last year and met a ton of people this way. A good Dutch friend of mine who was on exchange in Munich did this, and ended up being one of the only exchange people I knew that actually made any native German friends.
- Make a proactive effort to make plans with people. – The only reason that I am so close with one of my dearest friends in Munich today is because after our orientation (the one I mentioned above), both of us simultaneously stammered something about getting dinner together. Don’t be afraid to ask, it’s highly likely that the girl you just met doesn’t have anything to do that night either in this new town.
» Starting Classes «
- Don’t skip classes during the first week. – This is key. At my Uni, if you don’t show up to particular seminars (usually those with a waiting list), you’ll be kicked out of the seminar and your spot will be given to somebody else. Also, the first week (especially the first ever week of Uni) is always filled with important information about that semester (when the exams are, what books you’ll need) and about setting things out around college (library card, cafeteria card, etc.). Plus, skipping the first class never makes a good impression, both to your peers and your professor.
- Come prepared. – I highly doubt that you’ll have tons of prep to do for the semester, but it never hurts to check. For example, I always have to read anywhere from 2-6 books for my literature seminars before the semester begins, and the teacher doesn’t reach out to you to inform you. Also, just show up ready to take a few notes and a folder to file away your first few handouts.
Lastly, it’s important to know that the first few days, hey, maybe even the first few weeks/months can be hard. College is a huge change in anybody’s life, and like any change, it takes some time getting used to.
Thank you so much for reading. I hope everybody has had a lovely weekend, and here’s to a great start in the week. Much love, Julia