Student Blog - University hacks

AMELIA'S FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE

Firstly, unpack. Get everything in the places you want it and decorate your walls with pictures and posters. You could even put down a rug! Check out this Seren article for some tips on making your room more ‘homely’. In the kitchen, make sure you’ve got the things you’ll need to eat and cook with, and get a shop in ASAP, so you can enjoy your first week without worrying about food. Follow this link for information on what is and isn’t provided in halls accommodation. 

To feel relaxed in your new accommodation, get to know your flatmates. If you are going to be living in halls, knock on the doors of the people in your corridor, suggest making a group meal each week, plan days or nights out together. You’ll all be new and in the same boat, so making connections at this stage is important. Make nice food, play music (at a level your flatmates are okay with) and talk to people! You’ll gradually settle in and find who you want to spend your time with.

If you feel homesick, call your friends and family. Try to avoid going home in the first few weeks and give yourself the chance to get into your own routine. It’s completely understandable for you to miss home, but make sure you try your best to get involved with university life first. Arrange activities or meet ups to keep you busy, and you’ll be enjoying yourself before you know it! After Welcome Week, if you want to go home on the weekends, go! Trust your instinct but try not to make any rash decisions that you may regret later. Welcome Week is not the only time you’ll meet people or do fun things, but it marks the beginning of your university life when everyone will be feeling the same, which makes it easier to make friends.

You may not worry about this too much in Welcome Week, but you’ll soon need some clean clothes! Make sure you know how to do a wash before you arrive, set up your laundry card from a dispenser machine or get the app and figure out where and when is best for you to complete this task. You might also be thinking about joining a gym. Canolfan Brailsford and St Mary’s gym are both free when you’re living in halls, and there’s plenty of equipment for you to use there. There are other gyms around Bangor, so it’s worth having a look to see what works for you before you make any payments.

It’s really important that you register with a GP in Bangor. Get prepared before you come; if you know you need to move your permanent care to your university area, try to sort this out before arriving. You should be having these conversations with your current health advisors in advance, so that when you get here, you can enjoy yourself instead of worrying about your medication or appointments. Information on local doctors can be found here, along with some other useful links around student health and safety.

Finally, explore. Soon after you arrive, find out where you like to walk, eat out or go for drinks. Do this alone or with friends, either way, familiarising yourself with your new location will help you feel more at ease. Go at your own pace and make time for self-care. Relax, watch a movie and get some exercise. Do the things that made you happy at home, and you’ll be fine!

Take part in the events during Welcome Week! They are there to help you settle and meet people, so make the most of them. Some are run by the university or the Student’s Union, some by Campus Life, and some are run by the different academic schools. All are great, but if you’re worried about meeting people in your subject, the course events are more likely to help you here. 

Serendipity is probably the most important event of Welcome Week. This is the place where you can sign up to all the clubs and societies that you are interested in. There’s usually a lot going on here, including free food and opportunities to volunteer, so make sure you don’t rush this one. Most students say they didn't attend as many Welcome Week activities as they would've liked, so find out in advance the things you want to attend like movie nights, taster sessions, or Peer Guide- led socialising, and make sure you go! 

There are always a few pub crawls advertised, and if you want to get to know the area, these are pretty helpful. You meet new people in a relaxed environment and learn the best places to get a cheap drink, if that’s what you want. There are also quiz nights held around Bangor, in pubs or bars, which can be great fun to go to with your flatmates, course mates, or any other friends you’ve made in your time as a fresher. In the heart of the Ffriddoedd halls, you’ll find Bar Uno. This is a great place to eat and drink, meet people, and they also hold their share of weekly events which run all year round. 

If you’re not up for nights out, there are still lots of things for you to do. Walkabouts are great, as current students are available to give you tips on the best places to eat and chill. Your school will also host events with no pressure of staying out late, and sometimes there are trips to see different towns nearby which can help you get to grips with your surroundings. 

Whatever you do in Welcome Week, have fun and be yourself, and you’re sure to make new friends.

 Building friendships at the beginning is a huge factor in feeling welcome and settled in a new area. You’ll meet a lot of people in your first weeks at Bangor but be aware that you won’t be friends with everyone, and that’s completely fine. 

Most freshers are lucky and find that their flatmates easily become friends, however, this is understandably not always the case. In Welcome Week, there are events in place to help you meet people, so you should try to go to these. Clubs and societies are also great for meeting people with similar interests, or other people who are having a go at something new. 

You are likely to make friends with people on your course – you can do this by starting up a conversation before a lecture or asking someone a question on your way out. Having friends on your course means you can help each other out if you’re struggling with a module. This might not happen straight away, but people will be willing to have a chat if you are, and it could be the start of a great friendship! 

If you’re nervous or worried about not drinking, evenings led by Peer Guides can make the whole thing easier. They are there to help you start conversations, at the same time as ensuring everyone is safe and happy. If you simply show your face, making friends might be easier than you thought. Once you’ve made a few, you’ll probably meet people through them who will become your friends too!

Navigating Bangor is relatively easy for most students. Once you walk around and get your bearings in town, you’ll realise it's not as big as you initially thought, and it becomes less overwhelming. Choose your favourite route, then switch it up with a friend, walk to society taster sessions with a Peer Guide, use Maps, go shopping in the high street, visit the pier. All these things will help you find your way quickly and easily before you know it!

There are a few hills in Bangor, so if you have any mobility issues, try to familiarise yourself with the location beforehand. They are usually manageable, but they can sometimes slow you down on your way to lectures!

Make sure you leave enough time to get to lectures before they start. You can avoid the main hill that goes from the centre of Bangor to Upper Bangor by taking the lift or the stairs in the Pontio building. There is another hill up to St. Mary’s accommodation, which again can slow you down, so just make sure you are happy with the location of your halls. You can choose the exact room and halls that you want to live in, so do your research and work out the best option for you. If you study a course that teaches mainly on Normal Site, Ffriddoedd Village is likely to be better suited to you than St Mary's as it's closer.

Some students choose to cycle, but most places are within walking distance. You could find people to walk to lectures with which makes it more fun and encourages you to get up and attend. If you're going somewhere outside of Bangor, the train and buses are all quite cheap and reliable but be sure to plan ahead.

You can always ask for assistance at the help desk in Main Arts, who will be willing to direct you to certain rooms or buildings. Some students try to find the university buildings and rooms before their classes start and not risk being late or missing the first lecture – it's always best to be prepared.

For more navigation help, take a look at this guide to find your way around with maps, videos and information on physical access. Remember, even if you feel 'lost' in Bangor, you're never actually too far away from somewhere you know, or someone you can ask for help.

Writing your first essay and managing the workload 

For your first assignment, all you can do is your best. Have a look at the Study Skills website for study resources and tips, or if you want a helping hand, you could make an appointment with a Peer Writing Mentor. Once you’ve done your first assignments, you can read the feedback your lecturers give and apply those critiques to the next assignments, so you don't repeat the same issues. You could also speak to your personal tutor from your academic school for specific advice on your assignments.

Organising notes and writing them up 

This Seren article has some good advice on time management and keeping your notes in order. The main thing here is to make sure they’re kept in a safe place, and in some kind of system that makes sense to you. Create files on your desktop, on OneDrive or in physical form, and keep them up to date. Always highlight sources you think might help in a future assignment.

Getting on with housemates from a different cultural background

Sometimes students may not speak English as a first language or know much about the local culture. It’s important to consider how people might feel if they have relocated to a country where the language isn’t their first. To help establish a connection, make the effort to learn some greetings in your housemates’ language and learn about each other’s cultures. This will help both of you feel more at home and settle in quicker, and hopefully become friends!

Entering back into education after a year break 

A lot of people will be going to university straight from college, but there’s still loads of students who have taken gap years, so you won’t be alone, and everyone, no matter their background, will feel a bit overwhelmed by starting university. In some ways, you have an advantage, because you had more time to decide what you wanted to study, and you made the effort to go back into education after a break. It might help you to look back over your experience in previous education. Some students find this helps them ease into a university mindset, as you can approach your work in the same way and make changes where necessary. You will have freedom, and support is there if you need it.

Learning how to juggle finances 

Make a budget before you get to uni. You can find information on how to sort your student loan and other money advice here. Once you’ve sorted your student loan, figure out how much you’ll get and when, and then see if you’ll have any leftover. You may need to find a part-time job in or around Bangor to help fund your degree, which will also be great for your CV. Just make sure you prioritise your studies. You can contact the university’s Money Support Unit by email if you would like specific help: moneysupport@bangor.ac.uk. 

Not getting on with flatmates 

Of course, you should try your best to get along and make an effort to get to know your flatmates. Sometimes there will be disagreements, and there’s often tension around the cleaning of communal spaces. The best way to solve these problems is to communicate. Suggest making a chore chart – it may seem a bit over the top, but it keeps things fair and clean. However, if you feel uncomfortable or the people in your flat are affecting your university experience, you should speak to the halls team and make a complaint or ask to transfer flats. You don’t have to live somewhere you feel unhappy.

Self-discipline 

University is likely the first time you will have control over whether you attend lectures or not. Some students find it helpful to make themselves attend lectures when they track their attendance on myBangor and get competitive about getting a higher number of attended to missed lectures. If you agree to walk to lectures with friends on your course, you have another reason to make you get up and go. Be realistic about what you can achieve but don’t be too lenient with yourself, or you might regret it when it comes to assignments. Remember, at the end of the day you are here to get a degree.

Finding a balance between working and socialising 

This can be hard because you want to go out and take every opportunity to make friends, but you also need to stay on top of your workload. One option to help with this is to go to the library with your friends. This combines both social and academic aspects. Schedule a lunch break with a friend between study sessions to keep you motivated and socialising whilst still focusing on your studies. If you’re the kind of person who likes to timetable, make sure you schedule in some down time that you can have to yourself or spend with friends.

The Student Services index can guide you to the available services and facilities. Below is a quick list of some departments you should know about in your first year.

Neuadd Rathbone is a building on College Road, past Main Arts, that holds a lot of the services you might want to use throughout your time at university. All departments are accessible by stairs and lift. You can find ...

On the ground floor: 

  • The Disability Service (lower ground floor). They offer a service for all disabled students whether full-time or part-time, undergraduate or postgraduate. They consider each person’s requirements on an individual basis and can provide you with support in exams or arranging parking permits. Click on the link provided for more information.
  • The Timetable Unit. Straight in front of you when you come through the main entrance, this service is in room 208, in the reception area. Open Monday to Friday, 8.45am-5pm, they are responsible for the production of the teaching timetable and the booking of central teaching rooms during term time.
  • The International Student Support Service. Open 9am-4pm, this service is located on both the ground and first floors (above the disability service). They can provide advice and guidance on a range of welfare related matters to all international students and their families. Support is available to you from acceptance to graduation and beyond.

On the first floor: 

  • The Money Support Unit is open between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday and aims to have an open-door policy. However, if you would like to make an appointment for money advice please contact the Unit via email: moneysupport@bangor.ac.uk. 
  • The Student Housing Office is open daily Monday to Friday between 9am and 4.30pm. They deal with privately rented accommodation and can help you with your search to rent a property after halls.

On the second floor: 

  • The Student Counselling Service is open weekdays 8.45am-5pm. This is an amazing free service that can advise you, help you overcome issues of anxiety and keep you calm if you’re feeling stressed or under pressure. You could also speak to a Mental Health Advisor for further guidance.
  • The Skills and Employability Service is open weekdays 9am-5pm. This service is committed to helping you with your employability. If you are looking for a part time job, exploring your career options, seeking work experience, perfecting your CV, thinking of setting up your own business or doing a PhD, they are the people to go to for assistance and support.
  • The Study Skills Centre is a great support system for your studies. Their website has lots of useful resources and information on the skills you need to do well at university. They could help you with assignments or support you with maths and stats skills.

Other services and facilities at Bangor University: 

  • Your personal tutor. Every student is assigned a personal tutor in their first few weeks at Bangor. They are usually a lecturer from your academic school who can help with any worries or problems you have with the course or general university life. You can find out who your personal tutor is by going on myBangor, clicking on ‘Online Services’, and then ‘Quick Facts.’ The name of your tutor should be there, along with other information about you and your course. If you find you aren’t happy with your personal tutor, you are absolutely allowed to change to another. You can do this by contacting Student Admin.
  • IT Help Desk. Computer troubles are bound to happen, even to the ones in the library. They are a caring team who can help solve your problems quickly and efficiently once you submit a request or drop-in for assistance. On your registration day they can help you with your Wi-Fi and your student ID if you encounter any problems, too.
  • A library offers you a place to separate work from socialising. It can also help minimise distractions. There are four libraries at Bangor University, which all have helpful staff members and useful resources to aid your studies:
  • The Student’s Union. Found on the 4th floor of Pontio, the SU is the voice of the Students and the home of student life at Bangor. They ‘work to amplify your voice, enable your opportunities and develop your communities.’ You can find lots of information and support on their website, and you’re welcome to visit in person anytime.
  • Pontio common rooms are great for studying or taking a break between lectures. It has a couple of places to eat too, or you could go to Café Teras in Main Arts, which does good food if you want to eat between lectures.
  • Barlow’s Café and Bar Uno are both useful places to meet up, have a drink or get a bite to eat at university accommodation.

Here are some helpful tips and comments from current students at Bangor University.

Accommodation

‘If you're in Ffridd Halls and ordering delivery it's a lot easier to just tell your delivery guy to meet you at the security building and collect your food there.’ 

Support

‘Lecturers are there to help you, so ask questions.’ 

‘A big fear of mine going into Uni was the thought that everything was out of my control. I believed that if I didn’t enjoy the first few weeks or I wasn’t happy in my flat, then my entire uni experience would be ruined, but that was completely untrue. Going to uni is a completely new experience, which means you won’t be able to predict everything that will happen; however, that does not mean that absolutely everything is out of your control. 

If you don’t feel happy with your accommodation, if part of the course isn’t what you thought it would be, if you’re finding it hard to adjust to a new environment, the Uni is there to help you through those issues. You never have to feel stuck in your situation, because there is always somebody at the University who will find a way to help you through it. Even if that means looking at different accommodation or having a one-on-one session with your tutor once a week to better understand the course, there will always be a person there to help.’ 

Relax

‘Don't burn yourselves out. Take time for yourself and remember that Uni should be a fun experience.’ 

‘Don’t worry so much about how you might come across, everyone is in the same position and probably feels just as awkward or unprepared. Also, save your student finance and don't splurge too heavily.’

‘Just talk to people, if you’re anxious or nervous when you move in just sit in the kitchen and relax for a bit. Make yourself available socially even if it scares you, it will pay off tenfold in the long run!’ 

‘It’s okay to go home and see your family! Don’t do what I did and pressure yourself not to go until reading week, if you need to go at the weekends go! Honestly it can help you to settle better.’ 

Enjoy

‘I wish I took more time enjoying my Freshers’ Week.’ 

‘Enjoy it, it goes quickly. Make the most of everything that's on offer (clubs, societies, events), but remember to work hard too. Get to know the local area, it's beautiful and should be appreciated.’ 

‘Make the most of every opportunity.’ 

'Everybody adjusts to uni life in their own way, and you have the choice to do whatever you feel is best for you.'

Student Vlogs and Videos

There are also vlogs created by current students who have been exactly where you are now. They'll talk you through the major obstacles you'll face, like what to bring with you and how to make friends.