It's important to settle in quickly and easily when you start your new life at university. As a new postgraduate student, you will want to get going with your coursework as soon as possible, and not spend the weeks finding friends and extra-curricular activities that you did when you were an undergraduate student.
However, it is also necessary to get the work/life balance right and establish a good network of friends, interesting and fun social life, not to mention a happy student home!
Here are our top tips to settling in to postgraduate life as quickly and easily as possible.
Choose accommodation carefully
It’s really important to find the right accommodation so you are happy outside of your studies. The University of London did an in-depth study of satisfaction rates for London based postgraduate students in 2015 with regards to their accommodation. Satisfaction rates between halls of residence and shared flats or houses remained very similar at around 25% being very satisfied and 60% being satisfied. This is probably because postgraduate students will have a clear idea of what they expect and what they want from both halls of residence and shared student houses. If it’s high quality student-style living that you’re looking for, Fresh Student Living is a good option for those students studying in the UK. Purpose-built student accommodation provider Fresh Student Living has well located buildings in many student cities in the UK. All of Fresh Student Living's accommodation buildings have residents who are paid to act as points of contact 24 hours a day – and they also organise social events and have vibrant and comfortable communal areas. This helps students settle into their new home, university and course really easily. Student accommodation in Europe and the United States is not exactly the same as in the UK so do a little research if you're an international student before you make your decision. A bit of thought before you start applying for accommodation will make your postgraduate course easier to settle in if your home is comfortable for you.
Brush up on language skills
Even if you are heading off to study a postgraduate course that is entirely in English, if the local language isn't English then you should ensure you know at least a little of the local language before you get there. You'll pick up plenty of the language when you are submerged in this new culture, but it's a great way to settle in if you can already easily converse with your fellow students outside of class.
Research department & university
It might sound simple, but if you're new to the university spend some time during the weeks before starting finding out all you can about your department and the institution itself. Are any of the professors or tutors experts in areas you didn't consider during the application stage? Do you have any plans for your thesis yet? If you do, then check through all the academic staff to see if there is more than one tutor you could approach for assistance.
Network in advance
Connect with current and former students through any networking events you might attend in the run-up to starting your course. Social media is a brilliant way to make contact with students who can let you know about the little touches that will make settling in all the easier. Almost all universities and law schools will have societies, like the University of Edinburgh's Edinburgh Law Connect or multiple organisations like Harvard Law School, which will have a number of different social media outlets that students can make contact through.
Contact student societies
It's important to contact student societies, especially if you're an international student or studying in a city far away from home. If you're an international postgraduate student in the UK or the USA, then you are in luck as 41% of postgraduate students come from outside of the UK and there are over 1 million international students in the US. And don’t worry if you’ve opted to study in Europe, as there will be plenty of international students moving around the continent too. You are almost guaranteed to have other students who are in a similar situation from yourself and maybe experiencing all that their new home has to offer. Make contact with your institution's international student offices and societies before you arrive to find out which ones you might like to be a part of.