Living on campus at University is a truly fun experience – it’s also entirely unique. You have every single thing you could ever need within a 5 minute walk; friends, shops, laundrette, entertainment, places to work, a campus is designed to have it all. I did all of my food shopping online for an entire year, meaning I probably could have gone a whole year without leaving campus.
Why is this of relevance? Well, it’s good to get off campus for a while. A University campus is a microcosm of society, you have every resource you need, but with slightly different rules. People are generally friendlier on campus, and it’s often a safer place than in a town centre. However, you can start to feel somewhat institutionalised after a certain amount of time, and it’s good to put yourself in new surroundings from time to time.
There’s a lot more to explore in a new town or city than just a campus, and there’s a lot of people who want to explore it with you. It doesn’t just make for a good day out, but you might find that it’s a really good way to destress. If you’re someone who gets stressed easily, it can definitely become some form of association between a location and the feeling of stress, which is why it is always a nice reminder to get off of campus for a while. Putting some physical distance between you and the source of your stress can sometimes be a nice way to forget about it for a while.
It’s also a good thing to remember that campus has open doors. Where there are students with expendable cash, there are people looking to secure some of that for themselves. In my first year, my close friend was scammed on campus for about £100 (which he later recovered), by a homeless man who pretended to be a student. He was quite naïve to believe the story he was given, but nonetheless trusted the guy, as he assumed he was a student. I’m sure this is an unusual story, but perhaps something to keep in the back of your mind.
Before going to your University of choice, it’s probably a good idea to look for travel deals like bus passes or train cards. The easier and cheaper it is for yourself to get into a new town, the more likely you are to be inclined to do so. You might also find that you make friends with people that don’t live on campus; maybe they are in their second or third year, or perhaps they don’t attend the University and just live in the local area; being able to visit them on the cheap is always a blessing.
The type of campus might also influence your choice of University. Obviously the course comes first, but there are varying sorts of campus that might influence how you feel about living there for a year. My personal preference is a very green campus, with lots of places to be outside and work. When the summer came around, everywhere you went you could hear music coming from people enjoying the sun outside. The idea of a concrete campus made me a bit sad to think about living there, so I prioritised finding a University with a good course and a green campus.
Finding your way around campus in the first week or so is always a good idea. Showing up to lectures late isn’t the end of the world, neither is missing them entirely, but it is always disappointing to miss something you intend on attending. It’s a good idea to find the on campus facilities in the first week too; your nearest laundrette, the housing services, pharmacy, security and a supermarket / newsagents are always key, so it’s generally a good idea to gauge where they are in relation to your accommodation. You’ll know your way around within the first week or two anyway, just from going to things you’re interested in.
To summarise, it’s a good idea to get off of campus once every so often, even if you don’t have a reason to. Campus is a goldmine of activities and fun things to do, but it’s also a sheltered part of society. It’s a busy place, thousands of people your age live right next to you, and are always there. We all need some peace and quiet at some point.