A little help for those of you who are coming to Warwick from abroad

If you are travelling to the UK from abroad, you might be concerned about a few things UK residents might not be, like getting a new phone number or setting up a bank account. But don’t worry! I’m here to help.

I was a fresher last year, and came to live in the UK for the first time from Spain. In this post I will mainly talk about my experiences: some problems I faced and how I managed to solve them.

If you are still wondering whether this post is worth reading here is a list of the things I will talk about:

  • Moving in: where to stay if you are not travelling with your parents, what happens if you are early, arrivals weekend
  • Setting up a bank account and making sure you get your debit card
  • Advice if you are planning to bring a lot of cash into the UK
  • Getting a new phone/phone number
  • Buying things for the kitchen and your room
  • Adapters
  • Railcard

Moving in: where to stay if you are not travelling with your parents, what happens if you are early, arrivals weekend.

Last year, I arrived to the UK a little bit less than a week before the start of term. My mum came with me and we stayed at a hotel in Coventry, since arrival day for me was on Sunday. This gave us a few days to set up a bank account and buy crockery, decorations for my room etc. (more about that later).

If you are coming to Warwick early, like me, you have a few options: if you are travelling alone and don’t want to book a hotel (and are not taking part in the international orientation programme) you can move into your room early. However, you will be charged for every night, similar to a hotel. If you are arriving with a parent, you will be likely to stay at a hotel.

Setting up a bank account and making sure you get your debit card.

If you don’t have a UK bank account yet, I recommend getting one with either Barclays or Santander, as we have them on campus. You will only be eligible to get a student account, which means you’ll only get a debit card (as opposed to a credit card), the bank will explain the terms in much better detail than I can. Having your account with one of the banks on campus will make it more convenient for you.

At the start of my first year, my account gave me a lot of problems. So I was actually quite happy not to have to travel to Coventry or Leamington every time I had an issue. It was simply more convenient. One of the problems I had was that my debit card (and the two letters with the account number and pin) got lost in the mail. Apparently it didn’t recognise the hall’s address.

This is unlikely to happen, usually when you order something online, or receive mail from someone the address isn’t an issue. But just if you want to avoid the hassle (since your bank account will be super important for you to live) I’d recommend sending it to your bank and picking it up from there.

Advice if you are planning to bring a lot of cash into the UK.

When I first travelled to the UK I didn’t have a bank account my parents could transfer money to, so instead I brought enough cash with me to be able to live comfortably for the first couple of months.

If you are planning on bringing pounds into the UK (which I do recommend because you save the fee for transferring money), I would advise to change your currency at your local bank rather than the airport, especially if it is a relatively large sum. The exchange rates will be better than at airports. Check online to see what the maximum amount of money is that you can bring through customs before you depart!

Just as a side note, a 50 pound note is not very common in the UK. I was really surprised, since 50 euro notes are quite common. So if you get weird looks by the people at the bank when you want to deposit a few hundred pounds in 50 pound notes, don’t worry, I got them too!

Getting a new phone/phone number.

This was probably my biggest issue. My original plan was to get a new phone with a contract. Sounds straight forward right? Well, after going to every single phone company, I still couldn’t get a contract. Since I had created my bank account a few days earlier, my credit rating was too low.

If you are thinking of getting a new phone with a contract, but don’t have a UK account yet, chances are you’ll need a plan b. At any of the phone stores they will ask you for your passport (so have that with you, including the student visa should you require one), your letter of enrolment from Warwick, a copy of your UCAS acceptance letter, and a copy of your accommodation contract. After a really long process of typing in all the information, if you are lucky, it will work. More like scenario, however, is that a very friendly person with a very apologetic face will tell you that it doesn’t work. So what are your options?

Depending on the phone company, your account has to be between 3 months and 1 year old for your credit rating to be good enough to get a contract. So now you have a few options. One of them is, you bring your old phone (or a new one bought without a contract) and get a free “pay as you go” sim. Every company will have their own one with different price ranges and so on. Tesco, not a phone company but a grocery store, also has one of these sim cards, however, they are likely to be “pay monthly”, which again you might get problems with.

My top tip (which is also how I solved my problem last year) is this: bring your own phone (again, either your old one, or a new one, doesn’t really matter) and get a giffgaff sim card. It uses the O2 network and it shouldn’t give you any problems. They deliver a sim card for free (this takes about 2 weeks, possibly less, so if you already know your address I recommend ordering one about a week before you arrive). Then you go to their website (once you have the sim) www.giffgaff.com , create an account, buy a goody bag, et voilà!

Then, if in a few months time you still want a contract, your credit rating should have improved so it shouldn’t be an issue anymore.

Buying things for the kitchen and your room.

I can imagine most of you are flying to the UK, so you will obviously have limited luggage (as opposed to a lot of UK students). So presumably you will be bringing mainly essentials, like clothing and maybe a few things you are attached to like a leavers photo (like in my case) or any other random things. Fact is: you will need to buy a lot of stuff!

Now, I know everyone has their own preferences with things they’d like, how your room should look like etc. but my tip would be IKEA. Though for some of you it may be controversial, it is “easy way out”. There is an IKEA in Coventry!

If you are going with your parents and they have hired a car that will be the easiest option. If you are alone and already staying on campus, you can get either the 11 or the 12 bus to Coventry (for both you will have to do some walking!), ask the bus driver which the closest stop to IKEA is, they are usually very friendly. If you are one of the lazy ones, a taxi to Coventry is about 10-15 pounds, depending on traffic and time of day.

Check out Thomas’ post about what you’ll need to buy here: http://warwickengineers.co.uk/the-exec/outreach

Adapters

If you are bringing any electronic devices from home, remember to bring an adapter! This is SUPER IMPORTANT! You won’t be able to find a suitable one in the UK, they are mainly to go from the UK abroad, so not what you need.

Railcard

Do you have friends you want to visit in other parts of the UK? Are you planning on taking the train a lot (e.g. Birmingham or London)? Or are you planning on visiting different parts of the UK? If this is the case, you may consider getting a railcard.

If you only want a railcard to travel to London, there is an alternative. There is a coach service called Megabus, which has a stop just off campus, behind Tesco, and it takes you straight to Victoria station. Prices vary from only one pound to 5 pounds depending on the time of day. You’ll have to book the ticket online. If you want more detailed information on this let me know and I’ll give you more details.

Managing your money – Trying not to spend it all

Without a doubt, managing your student loan will be a major concern for most of you. That feeling of finding that a few thousand pounds has suddenly appeared in your account makes it tricky not to go on a spending spree, but unfortunately that will have to last you a whole term and possibly longer. Of course everyone will have a different financial situation, but most of you will be in the same situation as me – a combination of a maintenance loan and a grant along with your tuition fees. So, armed with this new injection of cash into your account it is pretty tempting to splash out on something to celebrate your arrival to university, and with everything going on in Freshers it is quite easy to spend your new found wealth. However, as boring as it might sound, you really have to plan if you want to make it to Christmas with some money left.

Because first year is in halls there are no bills to pay apart from your basic rent, and you should know what this is before you arrive at university. As far as I know your rent is paid termly, and will be taken out your account at the beginning of each term. So, assuming that your rent has come out of your account before term starts, whatever you have left is essentially yours to spend however you want. Now, it is impossible to prepare in advance for all your expenses in the coming months, but you can work out a few rough estimates to help you in the long run.

Food – this should be fairly easy to budget, as it a constant expense through your stay at university. You might bring a car full of food and drink with you to university (my car wouldn’t go above 65mph on my way down to Freshers due to the hundred or so tins of tuna and beans) or you may turn up with nothing, but you will need to have a weekly shop regardless of your circumstances. The university has a Costcutter on campus and this is very convenient for getting the necessities, but there is a large Tesco just off campus, and even if you live in Lakeside I would recommend going there instead. I was lucky to live within a short walk of Tesco’s (Arthur Vick) but even if you do live in one of the halls on the other side of campus I would suggest going with a large group of friends and paying for a taxi back. The amount you will save on your shopping will easily cover the taxi cost, and there is so much more choice at Tesco. Anyway, wherever you decide to shop, try and work out the first time you go shopping how much all your essentials will cost you. By essentials I mean items that you will buy week in week out, such as bread, milk etc. the next thing to decide is what you fancy for your meals at lunch and dinner/tea (I’m from the North East so I call it tea, but everybody else in my kitchen said dinner). Whilst we are still slightly off topic, serious warning here – Don’t go shopping hungry! You will end up buying all sorts just to eat on the way back to halls, so avoid at all costs. Moving on, whatever you want to buy for your meals, bear in mind space as well as cost, specifically freezer space. There is no point buying 7 pizzas, because I can guarantee they won’t fit in a shared freezer, so either go shopping multiple times each week or buy smaller items, or food that doesn’t need to be frozen (tinned goods, rice and pasta are perfect). Regarding cost, there will always be something on offer that you like (unless you are amazingly fussy) so have a hunt around the shop. Tesco knows that most of its income will come from students so student based food will usually be on offer in some form. So, unless you’re a huge fan of having the finest smoked salmon and steak for each meal you can easily pick up a bargain. This is also good, because you won’t get stuck eating the same food, which can get pretty depressing. Look for food that you can cook with pasta and rice if you aren’t sure what to get as you can’t go too wrong with those kinds of dishes, and maybe treat yourself to one nice meal at the weekend. One thing to remember before you arrive is that your food will probably be very different from what you are used to at home. Student cooking is mostly about efficiency, not quality, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself in November eating a plate of whatever you have left in the fridge. Saying that, if you manage your money carefully regarding your main meals, there is no reason you can’t treat yourself with a few snacks and such. I was pretty harsh with myself when buying all my meals, and that way I could afford some luxuries each week, such as biscuits, expensive cheese, maybe some ice cream. This probably sounds slightly pathetic but I can guarantee that many of you will fall into the same habits, and there is nothing wrong with that. Speaking of treating yourself, there are plenty of places to eat on campus, all very tempting. Whatever you do, unless you have plenty of money, avoid them as much as you can. It’s fine to go for a kitchen meal to Varsity or Xananas for somebody’s birthday or to celebrate the end of term, just don’t get into the habit of going to the Bread Oven every day. As far as the quality goes the university offers some excellent places to eat, but try not to let them become a regular occurrence, even if you are hopeless at cooking. So, now that food is out the way, we can move on to the more recreational expenses you may encounter, with…

Drink (and going out) - OK, so before we go any further, everyone will have a different attitude towards alcohol, and that’s perfectly fine. Contrary to popular belief, Freshers isn’t one huge party where you are constantly in a drunken haze. In my experience, Freshers was simply a time where everyone in the kitchen got to know each other and those who wanted to drink and go out got on with it, and those who didn’t weren’t pressurised or forced into participating whatsoever. So, before you come to university you will have a good idea of what your plans are towards drinking, and this will clearly help when deciding how much you want to spend on alcohol, and going out in general. If you don’t drink at all then your alcohol budget will be fairly easy to work out, but you can still go to every Freshers event, so don’t completely skip this paragraph! Now, if you are planning on drinking through Freshers and attending most of the events remember that you still have contact hours during the day, so spending all day in bed isn’t really an option. Now, with that in mind, try and decide what events sound good for you. If you haven’t checked out the SU website yet, here’s the link (http://www.warwicksu.com/freshers/) and as you can see, there is quite a lot going on. Unfortunately, unless you are Keith Richards then don’t plan to go to every event, you will just feel terrible all the way through Freshers. However, if you are planning on going heavy through Freshers then I would suggest picking up a passport (http://www.warwicksu.com/freshers/passes/freshers/) as it will save you plenty of money. If you are like me and kind of on the fence and want to experience Freshers but not go too mad, then there are a couple of events you should definitely go to; the Welcome Party, and the Freshers Party. These will be at the start and end of Freshers, and I would recommend buying a ticket for the Freshers Party as soon as possible as it almost always sells out. Between these two events, everything other event is up to you, as I can’t strongly single out and recommend anything else, but all the events are a good time, so pick one or two that sound good to you. This way, hopefully you should get through Freshers without ruining your bank balance.

Moving back to your alcohol costs, do not go out on the first night and spend a fortune trying to impress your new flatmates with how much you can drink/spend, because it is fairly likely that you will end up being looked after by one of them in the not too distant future, and it’s not the best first impression. Some of you out there will think yourselves invincible and capable of getting through anything, but I’ve had the experience of having someone you have met six hours ago throw up all over you while you try and get them out a bathtub that is slowly filling with vomit, and it’s pretty much the worst start to a relationship you can get. This person is still one of my best mates at university, but it’s impossible to forget an event like that due to the condition everyone was in by the end of it, but mostly because we took loads of pictures. The important rule is just don’t go wild. By all accounts, pre drink before you go out but then leave your debit/credit card in your room, and don’t take loads of cash out, or you can quite easily find yourself buying complete strangers a drink just because you happened to be standing next to them at the bar (to the guy who bought me a shot of Sambuca because you thought I was in your kitchen, I still owe you for that, but thanks anyway). In terms of buying drinks for pre drinking, I’m not going to tell you what to buy, because everyone has a different favourite drink, and you should stick to what you know. After Freshers, it’s likely that you will want to expand your horizons and visit a few places off campus, in Leamington and Coventry, and even so far as Birmingham. If this is the case then there is a company called Uni Express that will give you a kind of package deal which includes transport there and back and a queue jump, so it’s definitely worth checking out, link here (http://www.theuniexpress.com/). That’s pretty much all I have to say on drinking costs, so we can move on to...

This is the second part of my post on what to buy for university and how to spend your money in Freshers. This will probably be the final part, unless I get bored of revision or loads of you comment asking for a trilogy – I might even go so far as to split the last part into two separate posts, that seems to be the thing to do nowadays…

Medicine – it seems appropriate for me to quickly mention this just after my advice for drinking, because the two tend to go hand in hand. Anyway, I imagine that many of you will have heard of the phenomenon that is ‘Freshers Flu’. If you are unaware of this condition, here is the first sentence from Wikipedia – ‘Freshers Fluis the name commonly given to a battery of illnesses contracted by as many as 90%of new students during the first few weeks at auniversity, in some form; common symptoms include fever, sore throat, severe headache, coughing and general discomfort.’ Now, this being Wikipedia, that 90% statistic is completely made up, but I am here to warn you that you should prepare regardless. Unless you live with the cleanest bunch of students in history, and avoid sitting near anybody in lectures, you will probably contract Freshers Flu to some degree. There is no real way to tell how people catch this disease, but it’s accepted that drinking will not help to prevent the Flu, but non-drinkers are still at risk. For these reasons, buy plenty of medicine on arrival, just to be on the safe side. Bring along paracetamol, ibuprofen, and headache tablets, and some cough sweets. Now before you get worried, this mysterious condition is not that harmful at all, and if you do catch it, it just means you will spend the first week or so feeling pretty tired with a bad head. So, make sure you spend quite a bit on medicinal products, maybe even stock up for the rest of the term, especially if you are planning on having visitors from home. I had a mate come up for my birthday in November who spent the whole weekend in bed after catching Freshers Flu, so be prepared! You don’t really need to buy that top of the range branded painkillers, just make sure you have plenty in stock, as they are a key item. With that out the way, we can finish on…

Course Materials – so, we get on to the important part, what you are actually here for (hopefully). Not to suggest that food isn’t vital, but this is what you are at Warwick for. Now, each department will have different requirements for course books and other materials, so I will quickly run through what engineering requires. Firstly, the books for your first year come to around £250 to £300, and on top of that, you will need to purchase a lab coat and protective boots from the department for labs, which come to around £20. The potentially good news is that last year everyone got all this for free, so there is a chance that they might do this again, although I would be prepared to have to buy them yourselves if this is not the case. The alternative is to buy second hand, which will save you quite a bit, and the university runs a book sale in the first fortnight to give you an opportunity if you don’t want to splash out on new copies. The other option is to borrow from the library, but I would recommend avoiding this for core textbooks as you will need them quite often. Aside from books, you will also need materials, such as stationary and a way of filing your work (the floor of your room doesn’t count). With this in mind, pick up a few A4 files, say two for each module, so you can use one for each term. That way, keeping everything in a reasonable order will make it so much easier when you come to revise. This shouldn’t cost that much, as you can pick up decent files for around £1.50 in the back to school sales. In terms of stationary, you can never have too many pens, as plenty will go missing. For note taking in lectures you can either go old school with a notepad, and these are no money at all (but you will need a few) or opt for typing everything. I do a mixture, writing by hand for the maths lectures and typing for everything else. If you do want to type, make sure your laptop isn’t huge as carrying it will become an issue. My laptop was simply too large to walk around with all day so I picked up an 11inch notebook to take to lectures, although that set me back about £150, but was a much cheaper alternative to everyone who had bought an iPad to make notes with. I would recommend typing when you can, as it is much easier to make extra notes after a lecture when it is on a word document. Even if you don’t want to type at all, it is vital to have a decent laptop with you for your work during the year, as you will be required to submit work electronically. If you don’t have anything suitable now is a good time to shop around for something reasonably cheap, for university work the spec won’t need to be too high so you could get a suitable option for around £300. Staying on the technology side of things, a printer is a good purchase if you can get one fairly cheap. You can always use the library to print your work but after a while this can get quite costly, and having a printer on hand in your room is very convenient.

Extra stuff – So now we have gone through food & drink, staying alive and all your academic needs, this is really just a round-up of any extra items you may want, and whether they are worthwhile. Of course I can’t cover every possible idea you might have, but I’ll try and cover the most popular ones.

  1. Car – If you have a car, the chances are (that wasn’t supposed to rhyme) that you will have considered bringing it to university with you. If this is the case, then I strongly urge you not to, at least in the first year. There is no dedicated parking for students so you will have to pay, and I’m pretty sure it is around £4 per day. On top of the cost, you really don’t need to drive anywhere on campus and for the few times you will leave campus there are plenty of buses. Owning a car at uni will just make you a target for people wanting lifts too, so the easiest thing to do is just leave it at home.
  2. TV - Another item I think a few of you will have considered, and something else I believe you should leave at home. For starters, you will have to decide if you want to use it for actually watching live TV. If you are, then you will have to get a TV license costing £145.50, and then decide if you want to put the TV in your room or the communal area. You could ask your flatmates to help pay for the license, but it could get damaged and arguments will arise over what to watch. If you keep it in your room then you could face a constant stream of people wanting to watch a programme while you are trying to study, another problem.
  3. Random things – this is just items that you won’t need, but might help. I’m talking about stuff to make your room that bit nicer, so posters and such. Always good, you can go the safe option and get a load of generic student style posters, or expand out a little and get people’s attention. I picked up about 4 posters before I turned up and they do help to make your room seem a lot less generic, and I found out that I had some common interests with the people in my kitchen, so that helped a lot too! Posters are also dirt cheap, as you can pick up a few for less than £10 on the internet these days. Their lifespan might vary, but I still have 2 out of the 4 I started with three years ago, so it’s a worthy investment. Now I’m older I decided that I should probably be more mature with my decorating, so I pushed the boat out and bought an actual canvas print, so if you are feeling very adventurous that’s an option. For other random stuff, people bought loads of different decorations for their own rooms like fairy lights and candles, but check what is allowed in your halls first.

Essentials to buy for university – kitchen

Following on from my first part on "stuff you might need" I'll try and give you some insight into what you might need to bring along for all your cooking needs. I'm basing this info on my experiences of my own time in halls along with everyone in my kitchen, which was shared between 13 people. It's likely that you will have a different number of people in your kitchen, and different amounts of space, so consider that when deciding what to bring along - I can't remember when you find out what halls you are in but I think it is soon.

1. Cutlery etc.

First of all, the etc just means plates, bowls, cups and that sort of stuff ( I couldn't think of an acceptable name ). Basically, this is first on the list because you will struggle to eat anything without these items - trust me, I've tried. The important thing isn't whether you should bring this stuff, it's how much you should bring that is important. A lot of people think (including myself) that when you get to halls it is best to have one set of everything, so one fork, one knife, one plate etc. In theory this is very smart, because then it saves you space, and forces you to keep on top of your washing up. These are both valid points in the real world, but halls is very different. Things will go missing. Things will get broken. As much as you try to avoid it, these things will happen. The best thing to do is to bring 3 sets of cutlery, and leave 2 in your room for when the first lot vanishes or gets broken. Another good tip that nobody will do because it looks pretty silly is to mark your items - one of my hall mates did it with nail polish, and to an extent it worked, because nobody could get away with 'borrowing' your things. although you might think you know your cutlery, when you get in at 4am during freshers fortnight and fancy some toast it is quite tricky to find your exact knife, and it seems so much easier to use the one that has been left lying around. In terms of what to buy, just go cheap on the basic stuff. It won't matter if your 70p cup gets smashed, so look around for a big box-set of basic cutlery things, so you will have spares. I think I got 3 of everything for about £15, and I still have a couple of those things now in year 3. Don't go buying fancy things, there is plenty more you will need.

2. Oven things

You can tell I'm terrible at coming up with subheadings by now. Im guessing that mot of your cooking will be done in an oven, under a grill or in a pan. And for this, you will need at the very least an oven tray and a pan. One issue that I noticed upon arriving was that my oven tray didn't actually fit in the oven...I don't consider myself an expert on oven tray sizes so I can't tell you what size to buy, apart from reasonably small. Like a little bigger than an A4 sheet. Anyway, again with the cutlery, bring along two at least. You don't know what could happen to your tray throughout the year so have a back up. Also, with pans, get one decent frying pan and a few small standard pans. Just like the tray, don't bring a huge wok because other people will struggle to cook on the hob next you you if you take up all the space. Also, smaller frying pans are much better to play kitchen tennis with a ping pong ball, so there's that to consider....

3. Cleaning products

Boring time now, because even though kitchens will be cleaned a few times a week by staff (Unless that has changed) you will still need to keep on top of it, and if it is too bad they will refuse to clean. Every student likes to complain that the cleaners are a bit useless when they wont clean a kitchen because it is 'too filthy to clean' but looking back at the state my kitchen was in at times, I completely sympathise with them. Taking that in mind, bring along some basic kitchen cleaner and washing up liquid, and probably some tough stuff like wire wool. I tried to keep on top of my washing up and failed, and quite a few people in my kitchen gave up after arrivals weekend, so it is best to have some stuff on hand to deal with the awful awful plates that have been left for a few days. Also, Just having a clean kitchen means you stand a much better chance of avoiding freshers flu, when your immune system will still be weak and unaccustomed to student living.

4. Miscellaneous other things

Just a few more things to add that will make your kitchen a brighter place. Firstly, and possible more important than any other item, is the bottle opener. This will allow you to immediately make friends with people who need to open their J2O and other drinks, so it is best to have one handy. To avoid drunk people forgetting to return your bottle opener, get one for your keyring. I've had mine for years, and solved countless problems of 'How can i get into this lovely sparkling water' and similar issues. Just don't get one of those stupid belts with a bottle opener on - you'll just end up needing to change trousers. For other things you might need, I would advise oven gloves and plenty of kitchen towels, along with some kitchen roll to store in your drawer. These things are usually forgotten about because you rely on someone else bringing them along, but just to be on the safe side, remember some of your own. And maybe bring spares - I found out in halls that you can actually set fire to oven gloves (it wasn't me!).

Essentials to buy for university – your room

There is plenty to sort out when planning on arriving at university and one of the most important parts is making sure you have all of the essential stuff you need. Everybody might have different requirements, but I thought I would put together a few posts on what (almost) every student will need for university. There will be stuff I will miss out on here that you might consider to be vital, but I'm pretty confident that everything I list will be something everyone will consider.

1. A computer

This is the most obvious one (I'm avoiding clothing because I'm hoping that if you got into university you will remember you need clothes). A computer is absolutely vital, and with almost everything done online at university your computer will be the most important item in your room. Some students bring a desktop, but the majority of us just have a laptop, which is much easier to carry around. If you have a high end gaming PC then you might want to bring along both that and a laptop, but in most cases just a laptop will do. Your laptop won't need to be the very latest model, and won't need to cope with that much - most of the uni work I do is on Word. Plenty of people do tend to get themselves a new laptop for university (ask the parents for a results day present is a good strategy!)

1.5 A tablet

These days, even the laptop is considered too much to carry around on a daily basis, and so plenty of students now have a tablet for lecture notes. Tablets are much easier to transport, but you can't have one as your sole computer, because they fall short in some areas that are vital to university work - quite a few unique program's engineering students may want to use are not available on tablets, so don't think that you can avoid getting a laptop. However, I think they are a fantastic second device because they are so easy to use and carry around - in fact I'm writing this on my tablet, but I have just bought it, so you can get by easily at uni without one. If you want to get a tablet there are plenty of options at the moment, and it can't really suggest any one device that will be suitable. I've gone for an iPad Air, because I've already spent enough on apps on my iPhone, and I picked up a refurbished one which saved me a bit. If you're an android person then iPads probably won't be for you, but the most important thing is that your tablet can do everything you want, otherwise it's not worth it.

2. A printer

Sticking with the technology theme, although many assignments now have to be submitted online, there will still be plenty of work that you will need to hand in the old fashioned way - on paper. There are two solutions to this: you can pay a small fee to print your stuff off in the library, or you can buy a printer. Some departments give you printing credits (I think engineering gives you £20 worth, which is around a hundred pages) but if you don't get any credits for free, it's a few pence per sheet. This is good value, but if you're going to have to print off quite a lot of sheets, which could include assignments, lecture and revision notes, then an alternative might be better. I bought a printer in the first year, and although it probably didn't get much use, by the time I got part of my way through second year I was printing off enough notes that it would have cost me more to stick with printing things in the library, so in the long term it was a reasonable purchase. Just like a laptop, you don't really need a fancy printer with wireless printing or anything like that, so it's not going to break the bank. Of course you'll have to buy ink cartridges when the originals run out, and paper, but they are both very cheap, so shouldn't end up costing you a fortune. My printer was around £30, and I've probably had to replace the ink cartridge twice a year.

3. TV

In my opinion this is a big no - you honestly won't need a TV for halls. Remember that to watch TV you will need a TV license too, which is around £175 a year, so that adds an extra cost. In addition to this, you can watch pretty much everything on catchup, or even fork out for the monthly fee for a subscription service like Netflix. A TV will end up just distracting you and lead to everyone coming in to watch TV in your room, so if you think you can have a TV and have peace, think again. The same goes for a game console - you will probably end up getting plenty of people wanting a go, so I would recommend against it if I were you, plus it will distract you from work.

4. Posters

One of the big parts of university is getting to feel at home in halls. Nobody wants to have to spend a year in a bare room, so the best thing to do is to make your room fell like YOUR room. Posters are my go to way of making your room feel more personal, and although more creative members of my kitchen had far nicer rooms with lights, photo collages and other decorations, my interior design skills are limited to posters. There is a poster fair during Freshers incase you come unprepared, but there are plenty of poster sites on the internet with a very wide range, so you can get exactly what you want for hardly any money. This depends on your room size but I reckon 3 will do for any room, so don't forget to bring something along to stop you going mad from the bare walls.

5. Bedding

From what I can remember my accommodation did have some bedding with it, but it is much better to bring your own. Apart from one or two halls everywhere has single beds (check this before you turn up though) so make sure you get the right size stuff. If you can't bring any with you then there are plenty of places to pick up bedding for no cost at all, so that shouldn't be a major worry, but you do need to get some bedding of your own - the bedding they give you isn't great. Also remember spares, because I hope you will be planning on washing it.

6. locks

Something that people tend to forget is safety for your stuff. This will only concern some halls, but for those of you with 30 week rents you should have a chance to store some things in a cupboard over the holidays. One thing you will need is a lock for the cupboard though, and this is quite easily overlooked (I forgot mine and had to buy one at the last minute). Another thing to remember is that the lock bar needs to be quite thin, because I also made the mistake of buying a lock that wouldn't fit through the latch. So if you want to avoid having to saw down a lock then don't bring one too big. Also, a lock for your laptop is a good idea, because if you are looking into getting insurance it will reduce the cost. I didn't bother with one, but most of the people in my kitchen did, so it is quite a good idea.

7. Bathroom stuff

This only really refers to the people with an en-suite, but I suppose some of it will affect everyone. There isn't much point bringing basic things like shampoo and toothpaste with you because it will take up room in your car/suitcase and you can easily buy that when you get here, but there are a few things you might not consider. If you have an en-suite then it will get cleaned every week, but it is good to get some cleaning stuff of your own - unfortunately people in Freshers week tend to occasionally have too much to drink, which can lead to some of it coming back up, and it's best to have something to clean that. Hopefully that helps you to prepare for arriving at halls in a few months time. I'll put up a list of kitchen essentials (and stuff you don't need), but let me know if there is anything I haven't mentioned that you wan't to know about.

5 things to look forward to in Freshers this year

The countdown to Freshers begins! And that means that all of you out there who have applied to Warwick, whatever the course, will hopefully be here in October to witness it, so to give you an introduction of what to expect come October, so here are 5 things to look forward to in Freshers at Warwick:

1. The Welcome party

Over the next few months we will get to know what events will be held during Freshers fortnight, but one event that will be on for certain is the welcome party. As the name suggests this is the time to welcome all the Freshers to Warwick, and it is a chance to get to know your flatmates. It is held in our SU club, The Copper Rooms, and is fantastic for a kitchen night out to start your university life. It’s no secret that Freshers week usually involves a good deal of alcohol, which is an amazing catalyst for all forms of amusing conversions, but bear in mind that first impressions will last a lifetime…

2. Freshers Fair

This is your chance to get involved with one of the most important parts of university life: student societies. Societies are organisations run by students for students, and here at Warwick we have a society to cater for everyone’s interests, and on the rare occasion we don’t have a society for your particular interest, you have the perfect chance to start your own! So anyway, the fair will give you a chance to have a chat with executive members of the society (the students who run it) and find out if a society is for you. I would highly recommend that at the very least you join your own academic society, and then have a look around for any more that catch your eye and seem very interesting – for example (a completely unbiased example by the way) I would have to recommend the Engineering Society, they seem quite a good choice… In all seriousness though, I am likely to be there in person, and may be in some rather colourful attire to lure people to the society, so there is another reason to come along!

3. Sports fair

Like the Freshers fair, this will give you a chance to join up with any sports teams you have an interest in, and get to chat with members of each sports club. Sport is an amazing part of life here at Warwick and we have over 60 sports clubs (full list here:http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/sport/about-us/clubs/). I’m not sure of the latest statistics but I seem to remember that around 40% of students at Warwick are members of a sport club, and if that isn’t your thing we still have amazing facilities such as a newly renovated gym, a swimming pool and much more besides. You can find all about these facilities and clubs at the sports fair, so it is certainly something everyone should attend.

4. Your first lecture

I know what you may be thinking, this doesn’t sound like something very exciting in comparisons to the rest of the events going on in the first few weeks. However, coming from a style of education where you will be used to classrooms, this will be an interesting change, and sitting in a lecture theatre with hundreds of your new course mates will be a memorable experience.

5. The Freshers party

Different from the welcome party, this will come at the end of your Freshers Fortnight. The Freshers party will have a specific theme and the whole SU will be decorated to add to the experience. Previous year themes have been Las Vegas and Moulin Rouge, so expect something impressive – we will have to wait until later in the year to find out what this year will be, but you should get your tickets as soon as they go on sale, as this always sells out and is the best way to finish off your Freshers.