Number one: washing machines are so damn expensive it’s probably the main reason I’m broke.
There’s a lot of stuff out there to help you transition into university life, and to give you a general idea of what to expect when you arrive at uni for the first time. You’ll hear about time management, and that it’s okay to not make friends immediately (which is true, of course), and you’ll probably hear about the price of cheese.
But there’s definitely a few things that slip through the net. Like the prices of washing machines. I get that the stereotype of lugging your washing home every weekend has been around for a while, but usually I always saw it in the context of laziness and getting your mum to do it for you. And then I found out my washing machines cost £3 per wash. THREE WHOLE POUNDS. That’s more than a block of cheese!
Here’s some other things that nobody tells you about uni life (or that they never told me, at any rate).
You may be walking into the same shop, but don’t expect the same stock. Even in the same square mile.
This goes for, in my experiences, Tesco Express in particular. There are three Express stores dotted along my typical route: behind my flat, by the guild half way across campus, and one on the other side of campus. Do they sell the same things? HELL NO. The one behind my flat is great if you want vegetables and cupboard things, maybe a few fresh dinner/dessert things. The one by the guild is great for fast frozen dinners and junk food, and the one across campus is great for everything lunch and snack-related.
Why, you ask? I have a theory. The first is under a load of student flats, the second is pretty central on campus so is great when you’re rushing home late, and the third is by the library – the place where snacks are the only thing that motivate you to finish your coursework.
The further away from the library you live, the more you’re likely to renew your books over and over. Even when you’re done with them.
I wouldn’t call it laziness, per se, more a combination of forgetting to take them with you when you leave the flat, and crumbling at the prospect of lugging 15 500-page textbooks a mile across campus. On the other hand, however…
You’ll probably end up forcing yourself to go to the library at 10pm so you don’t get a late fee.
Some inconsiderate person will have reserved the book you’ve not opened in the last six weeks, and you only remember this as you stare longingly at your bed in the evening, having finally closed your laptop. You’ll be so stingy by this point that you make the trip no matter how hard it’s raining outside. (I actually did this once, and it was raining VERY hard. I may or may not have persuaded a friend to meet me there with chocolate as an incentive for me to go. She’s a good friend.)
Do not underestimate how easy it is to go days (and sometimes weeks) without encountering your flatmates.
All the TV shows may suggest that the people you live with in first year will turn out to be your best buddies. In reality, it could go either way. I could count on two hands the amount of times I’ve run into one of my flatmates, and that’s over a period of almost eight months. I see the others somewhat more often, but… We all study completely different things, have completely different schedules and completely different sleeping patterns. Some flats just don’t click.
But, no matter what weirdness, inconvenience, and unwillingness to spend money you may encounter, you’ll miss it every time you leave for the holidays.