If, like me, you're from the kind of place that the general reaction you get when you tell people where you live is a blank expression, then moving to uni is probably going to be a huge adjustment. Here are our tips to make sure the move runs smoothly...


University is often a natural point in life where we youths want to stretch our wings and fly the nest. For some people, they only make it twenty minutes down the road and return to the nest with washing every weekend. However, for those like myself (hailing from a town that can only be located by naming some cities that are kind of vaguely nearby) the nest may be 208 miles away from your new student life. In the majority of cases where long distance relocation has occurred, it is to a faster, brighter and much larger town or city. This can be an amazing adventure but can also leave you feeling out of your depth, much like moving to a new school. But how can post sixth formers prepare so they can avoid falling into the first act of Mean Girls, eating lunch alone on the toilet?

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Be prepared for a serious culture clash

By this I don’t just mean the great English North-South divide. Although fellow Southerners, if you don’t know what ‘chip spice’ is, you're about to have a rude awakening. If you’re living in uni halls, you'll be plonked in a flat with people from all around the globe. The easiest way to spot someone from a small town is to look for the person weirdly bragging about how many nationalities they share their flat with. People from big cities grew up with multinational communities and it quickly becomes apparent who’s from London, and who’s from the ageing seaside community under UKIP’s constituency. People are going to clash when it comes to religious beliefs, political opinions and a bucket-full of other things. The best way to approach any new situations is to be respectful, tactful and try to keep in mind that variety is the spice of life.

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Faster than the speed of light, bigger than… well anywhere I’ve ever been

The thing about cities is that… well, they’re just pretty darn big. Don’t repeat my mistake of thinking I could walk from one side to the other just because my hometown is the size of The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can't Read Good and Who Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too. Be careful and don’t get cocky too soon, getting lost in a new place can be terrifying and it’s especially not recommended if you don’t know which areas are to be avoided. For your first trip, bring someone who knows the local area, explore with a group, or go full-on tourist and crack out the Ordnance Survey map.

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Use it and abuse it

Make sure to take full advantage of the opportunities living in a city provides. From art, theatre, restaurants, cafes and better transport links, there’s a reason people flock to live in these places. Coming from a town with one library and an ASK, moving to the city opened my eyes to the world of artsy hipster cafes, city centre performances and amazing street art. You may only be there for three short years, so spend every second wisely. Reliable bus routes and frequent trains will make life easier, and a whole lot faster (no I’m not desperately bitter the only bus to my village has been permanently cancelled). Revel in the 24/7 convenience store, gym and late-night bus services. Students may have a tight budget, but there are plenty of things to do to please even the shiest of bank accounts.

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The high-street is your catwalk

Coming from a small town can greatly influence the way that you express yourself. Coming from a town with one New Look and an M&S can really limit your creative tools. The best thing about cities is the diversity. You are safe in the knowledge that you can never dress too ‘out there’ or too alternative because I can guarantee you there are scores of people out there even edgier than you. If you’re sick and tired of the small community vibe keeping you shackled in sensible Clarke’s shoes and t-shirts your mum picks up while she’s getting bread, fear not: the city has the key. Which city you end up in will greatly influence the kind of dress that you see, however one thing is for sure: the larger the city, the weirder the wardrobe. Revel in the freedom of finally escaping Mrs Brown from 3 doors down muttering about ‘kids paying for holes in their trousers’. Enjoy the feeling of dying your hair without startling pensioners. University is the perfect time to reinvent yourself without bumping into 12 people a day from your primary school insistently telling your new friends you’ve never worn hats before.

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Don’t blame it on the night

Going out on the town becomes a whole lot easier when there’s actually a town to go to. The existence of nightlife on the doorstep is an amazing discovery for the student used to a 30-minute taxi ride to the nearest alcohol peddling establishment. Bar hopping, nightclub crawling, 4am kebab house snoozing… It’s all doable in the city. Different styles of nightlife suddenly become an option in the bigger cities. Clubs aren’t just for remixed chart songs anymore: grunge, reggae, punk and pretty much anything else you can imagine will all have their niche homes too. Cocktail bars, 24-hour burger houses, salsa clubs and a million more places await your discovery.

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Remember your roots

As exciting as a new city and all that it offers can be, remember not to go badmouthing your hometown. Your parents want to know that you’re having a great time where you are, not that you’re dreading coming back to see them. For those of us who grew up in tiny towns, remember that the fast-paced lifestyle of a big city can be exhausting. It can be a welcome relief coming home to familiar shops, faces and even smells. Grab hold of your university experience in the big city, take every opportunity that comes your way and grow into the person you always wanted to become. Just don’t forget the place that got you this far already.

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