Your First Term at British University – What to Expect

Choosing where to study is a big decision! The places you go, the things you do, and the people you meet will change the course of your future. While you can learn all about course offerings from a university prospectus, the reality is that’s not the whole story! So, today we’re breaking down what you can actually expect to happen during your first few weeks at a British University.

Where will I be staying?

Almost all universities will offer first-year students a place in the halls of residence. If you’re at a college-based University, like Oxford, Cambridge or Durham, you’ll be living within the college, but at other universities, you might be a short walk or bus ride from the main campus. Halls of residence basically look a bit like a hostel. You’ll get a bedroom to yourself, and possibly a bathroom, otherwise, you’ll share a bathroom with around 4-6 other students, as well as a living area and a small kitchen. Halls are typically catered, when there’s a canteen, or self-catered when you’re responsible for your own groceries and cooking. Often, universities only have enough accommodation for first years, so moving into the second year, you may need to find a house-share with other students.

Freshers Week

Students usually arrive at university around a week before lectures start. This is known as ‘Freshers Week’ and it’s an opportunity to make some friends, get to know your surroundings and familiarise yourself with the university.

Freshers Fair

The huge array of societies and groups on offer is one of the best things about attending a UK University. A Freshers Fair is like a convention where all the clubs and societies have a stand where you can speak to members of the society’s committee and decide if you’d like to join. If there’s something new you’ve always wanted to try, now is the time to try it! Societies will often have coaches and equipment for hire at a subsidised price.

Orientation Lectures

During Freshers Week you may be expected to attend some lectures, and although they won’t be academic lectures, they will probably be compulsory attendance. These lectures will explain the rules. Typically, you might have lectures on things like fire evacuation procedure, plagiarism and collusion rules, and any subject-specific ground rules. These lectures will probably be repeated, and compulsory to attend, at the start of every academic year.

Meeting Your Tutor Group

The way you learn at university is different from school. There are no classrooms here, it’s either lectures where you listen and take notes to research further, or tutor groups where you present and discuss what you’ve learnt so far. Meeting your tutor and tutor group and outlining the way you’re expected to manage your learning is an important event during your first few weeks at university.

Wednesday Afternoons

Once the term is full swing, you may notice your Wednesday afternoons don’t have anything scheduled. Whilst not all universities do this, it’s incredibly common for Wednesday afternoons to be set aside for sports or other extra-curricular activities. The societies you joined at Freshers fair will typically meet on a Wednesday afternoon and it’s generally expected that students will be involved in something. Whilst it’s tempting to take Wednesday afternoons to catch up on studying, getting involved in something non-academic is a brilliant way to let off steam and will probably contribute to you feeling more settled and well-adjusted in the long term.

Remember the Weather

In Britain, the term starts in September. At home, that means average temperatures of around 30C. Over in Oxford, it could easily be as low as 11C. Dealing with the cold and wet can be a nasty surprise for a lot of Hong Kong students, make sure you’re not one of them!

Of course, each University will be different with their own quirks, which you’ll have to discover for yourself, but we hope this is a good starting point! If you’d like to discuss more which Universities might be a good fit for you, what to expect and how to absolutely ace your application, we can help.

Our admissions consultants have first-hand experience studying in the UK and are true experts on the application process, particularly for the Oxbridge admissions process. We’d love to hear from you, contact us today to arrange a free consultation.