Going to university should be one of the best experiences of your life - and it will be, as long as you stay safe and make sure you are responsible.
There are things you can do, especially when you first arrive in a new town or city, to help you stay safe and enjoy every minute of your new independent life:
Firstly, make sure you know where campus security is based in case you ever need it. I mean, don’t get us wrong, most university campuses are safe places and full of really interesting, vibrant things to do. However, you never know when knowing where security is might come in handy - it’s even worth adding the contact number on your mobile phone.
Secondly, download the university app, because this has been created for your safety and convenience. Both students and staff can benefit from these apps because they will almost certainly include a campus map and important contact details. Some universities also sign up to apps such as SafeZone or bSafe, which are specifically designed to keep students safe. Download it and have a play with it once your uni is confirmed - you may need to rely on it from time-to-time.
Remember this too - write your address down and save it in your phone! You’ll soon get mixed up in the many tours, activities and socials, and before you know it, it’ll be 5am on your first night and you’ll suddenly have to find your way back to a room you’ve only spent an hour in.
You should make a housemate WhatsApp group so you all know where each other might be. It’s inevitable that you’ll get split up in clubs or on nights out, so look out for each other and make sure everyone in the group is safe. It’s great to rely on friends to look out for you, isn’t it?
If you want to feel much more secure in your new town or city, you’ll probably want to check out the local licensed taxis and store their number. You’re sure to end up in a party at some point - socialising is a huge part of university life, so you’ll need transport at hand once the buses and trains have finished running. Beware though - not all taxis are licensed, so find out the companies that are approved by the university. Download their app, and NEVER get in an unlicensed taxi, whether it be in the daytime or after a night out.
Be secure in your accommodation too and lock your bedroom door and windows when you go out. Living away from home for the first time can sometimes mean that the little things, like locking doors, are forgotten, particularly if you’re in halls where it all seems like a free-for-all. You don’t know everyone you may be sharing halls with, especially when you first arrive at uni, so don’t take any chances - especially if you have expensive stuff like laptops and phones with you. Sorry to sound like your mum, but keep your purse/wallet safe too, and put your keys in the same place where you know you won’t lose them!
It’s a really good idea to get to know your way around as soon as possible when first landing at uni. Practice the route from uni and the town centre back to your place of residence a few times during your first couple of days, and be sure to research the bits or town/city that you’re better avoiding - let’s face it, most places have them.
You should guard your personal information initially when you arrive at university. Wanting to make friends is perfectly normal, but it doesn’t mean you should give out your phone number to everyone you meet. Be careful with allowing everyone and anyone to access your social media too. Avoid anything that may make you vulnerable to fraud or worse. Take your time making close friends and you won’t go wrong!
This one is really important - don’t blow your student loan in one fell swoop! Unless you’re particularly lucky, it’s likely that you’ll have more money than you’re used to once the loans arrive. We’ve all heard the stories of those that party it down the drain in no time and get themselves in a mess. This could cause terrible stress for you (and your family, who will probably have to bail you out - how uncool), but could also cost you your university career.
Everyone arrives at university wanting to make a good impression, but you should never feel pressured to say yes to everything especially during Fresher’s Week. Don’t put yourself in situations where you are way out of your comfort zone - particularly if you know it is going to avoid excessive amounts of alcohol, drugs or casual sex. Going to random house parties isn’t a great idea, and ending up in groups of strangers is even more foolish. Be sensible and look after yourself or your safety at uni may be compromised.
Most students are unaware of crime in their town or city until they fall prey to it. You just need to be smart and make sure you’re not one of those statistics.
It’s estimated that a third of UK students become a victim of crime, mainly theft and burglary - and the vast majority of those crimes happen in Fresher’s Week and the first semester when new students are most vulnerable. Students with expensive equipment are seen as rich pickings by petty criminals. You need to be aware and take care of your belongings because freshers who aren’t street-wise are the easiest targets.
And remember - this is all just sensible information and advice!
You don’t need to go off to university in a panic. Enjoy yourself, but keep your wits about you. You’re going to be embarking on some of the best years of your life!