Starting a new university course is an exciting, but challenging time. Once you have packed up your car, said a tearful goodbye to the folks and landed in your new halls of residence there is a whole raft of activities that lay before you – not to mention the little matter of getting down to a heap of work.
As a dental student, you are luckier than your average fresher. While you have a timetable that puts some arts students to shame, this commitment will be rewarded with a close-knit peer group, a good support network from the dental school and lots of fun and frolics designed especially for you by the dental society.
Yes, being a dental student is one of the best bags at university – and if you don’t believe me, get out there and ask some of the students who were in your place this time last year – I’m sure they will convince you.
However, on the flipside of being any kind of student, there is the adjustment process of moving from living at home to looking after yourself. At this stage. you may view this transition as a welcome change, and it will be, but there will also be those times when you find your money hasn’t gone as far as you thought, you’re rundown from too many late nights and you’d give anything for a good meal.
Those are the times when you’ll be wishing you had considered the not-so-exciting elements of student life a little more. To make this whole process easier for you, we’ve come up with its own list of helpful hints to start you on the road to ‘studentsville’. Follow at least half of them and I guarantee life will become a whole lot easier.
Budget, budget, budget
It’s not very exciting, but try not to see your student loan as “free cash” that you can blow in the first couple of weeks of term. The Student Loan Company lends money to cover tuition and top-up fees, with up to £4,625 for annual living expenses available. It seems like a lot, but remember that this money still has to be repaid after graduation and after a five-year course the pennies can mount up.
A good way to budget is to use online banking to keep track of your finances. Just logging in every day to see what you have spent and how much you have left can keep your feet on the ground. Many banks will be vying for your custom at the moment. As dental students, you will be a particularly attractive option for organisations that want to secure your business for life.
Don’t rush into the first deal you are presented with – shop around and then make your decision.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in your new life but spare a thought for those left at home. Remember to call your parents frequently and keep in touch with old friends, after all university holidays at home can be very long and boring without them.
The key to enjoying the first few weeks at university is to accept invitations. Try not to have a set idea of what you do and don’t like to do and expand your horizons (and your social circle) by trying new things.
Many dental schools ‘buddy’ up their freshers with other dental students who are in higher years. Take advantage of this and use your new mentor to get the inside track on life at the dental school – you never know when it may come in handy.
The style of teaching and level of work at dental school may seem overwhelming at first. If you feel you are struggling don’t wait for weeks to mention it to your personal tutor. Go and see them straight away to discuss how you can move forward.
Eat well and try the ‘one night on, one night off’ rule. Looking after yourself by eating the right kind of food and not going out every night will pay off in the long run. Mammoth partying sessions aren’t sustainable and will only make you feel rundown, so try and mix it up by reserving half the week for social events and half the week for staying at home. Your body (and your wallet) will thank you for it.