You are about to take a big step in your life: you’re going to university! And doesn’t it seem like there is still so much you need to do? We get you. With so many things to consider, we want to help you make sure you’ve got everything covered before moving to study abroad or in a different city. Here’s a guide to help you on this important journey. Read it carefully and take note of our main tips to make sure you’re preparing for university!
1. Check the neighbourhoods
First of all, it’s important to understand which neighbourhood is the best for you to live in. Ask yourself what kind of things you value the most — do you want a place close to your university? Do you prefer a young neighbourhood with lots of students nearby or would you rather live in a more residential area with families around? Maybe you’d like to be closer to the city centre or close to the main attractions. Take some time to think about it and write your preferences down — then go online and figure out which neighbourhood matches them.
Keep in mind that some options may require you to give up one priority in favour of another. In this case, you just have to go back to your list and consider which characteristics you value the most.
For instance, if you want to live close to the city’s nightlife area, you should be prepared for the noise and the crowds you’re bound to hear by your doorstep every day — exam season won’t stop them! And have you ever thought about living right next to a train station? It’s very convenient, for sure, but bear in mind that you’ll listen to the trains go back and forth every day; it may take some time to get used to it.
So where can you start?
- Check blogs and websites of tips and tricks about the best areas to live in your city;
- Ask your friends if they know someone who lives or has lived in the city and might give you some advice;
- Join Facebook groups with people who share this kind of information — simply type your city name and you’ll find many options. You can even find people from your hometown studying at the same university through these groups. Here’s a group for Erasmus students living in Milan, for example!
- Use Google Maps’ street view tool and “walk” around. This will give you an idea of what the neighbourhood looks like and will help you get familiar with the area before you even get there.
2. Find a place
The next step is finding the perfect place in the your preferred neighbourhoods. There are several ways to find a place to stay:
- Friends are there for every occasion. Talk with them to find out whether their landlords can offer you a room in the same apartment or if they have another property for rent;
- Ask your peers where they stayed and which places they recommend — student residences, a studio, a private property, or an apartment full of students;
- Use mum’s network — they always have a friend who has a cousin that has a son who has been there;
- Write a post on a Facebook group and someone might get back to you;
- Check medium to long term rental websites — these allow you to book a room/house with spare time so you have one less thing to worry about and a safe payment method — no sleeping under a bridge or staying at a hostel with a snorer. We’re biased, of course, but Uniplaces is the best option here! 🙂 You can book in advance and you can trust the photos and descriptions because every place is verified by the company;
- Ask around at the university you’re attending — go to the student’s office to ask for help and check on the university’s websites for tips and useful links.
To sum up, use your network plus a little bit of research to find the best place for you on time! Here are some tips that you should have in mind when renting a room:
- Move some days before classes start. There may be some papers you need to take care of and this way you won’t be overwhelmed. Besides, you have time to get to know and walk around the city and learn the path to your university (and the nearest bar);
- Make sure you find a place with wifi so you don’t have to sign a contract with an internet provider;
- Make sure your room has everything you need for your stay — you might need a desk to study if you don’t like studying in bed or in the kitchen;
- If natural light makes a difference, make sure your room has a window with an outside view — no one wants a kitchen view to a roommate making eggs at 2am;
- There is a mathematical rule that states that 20 people in a house with one bathroom equals arriving late all the time, so make sure there is a fair rate between the number of people living in a house and the number of bathrooms;
- If you don’t have a washing machine at home, check if there’s a laundrette in the neighbourhood, otherwise you will spend your Saturdays washing clothes in a bathtub.
3. Make sure you only take the essentials
Now that you have a room, the question arises: How will I move my life there? You will find yourself struggling to decide what should stay at home and what you need to take with you, and in the middle of this mess you might end up forgetting something important and taking 500 hats you won’t end up using. To prevent this, we prepared a checklist with a few important things you should pack:
So the essentials, really.
4. Find out about events and social media groups
The last step of your preparation process before moving is: to have fun with it, of course. Now that all of the responsibilities are taken care of, the last step of your preparation is to find out more about the people and what’s happening in the city!
The best place to do this is on Facebook — there are tons of groups and pages that can help you. Here are some suggestions:
- Check your student union’s Facebook page — it’s a great opportunity to meet fellow students;
- Join your university’s Facebook group — sometimes you can find people who share a common problem or interests;
- Like your city’s ESN (Erasmus Student Network) Facebook page — these guys know how to throw a party! Make sure to check the page for tips, parties and discounts;
- Join your university’s buddy programme — many universities have one and it puts you in contact with a fellow student who will help you through the adaptation process;
- Search for Instagram accounts related to the city and students — you can get a sense of what people are doing and where the hottest spots are;
- Search for other Facebook groups related to student life, such as Lisbon’s Academic Association or Madrid’s Student Union;
- As soon as you arrive, don’t forget to pay attention to flyers and posters distributed around your university and the city about future events.
If you want to get the most out of this experience, take the time to prepare yourself before moving with these great tips.
Thanks for reading this post!
What else do you think is important to consider when preparing for university? Let us know in the comments. And remember: if you need student accommodation you’ll find the perfect student home on Uniplaces.