Dear fresher me: Things I wish I had known

26 August 2021

Starting out at university is never easy. There’s all the studying, cooking, making friends and trying to maintain a calm and cool appearance as you do so. Looking back, UCL alumnus Ignazio tells us things he wish he had known as a fresher.

Boy looking back

It’s halfway through your first year at UCL and you’re probably asking yourself, ‘Have I been making the most of it?’ Whether your answer is ‘yes’ or ‘no’, these tips will improve your sense of satisfaction – allowing you to own the year!

Social life

Speak to anyone who has recently left university and they will probably tell you that if they could do it all again, they would get more involved with university life. Don’t worry! You don’t need to have the same regrets. You can still join clubs, societies and teams midway through the year!

UCL has an incredibly diverse range of people, and this is mirrored in its 293 incredible student-led societies. Societies of all kinds are a brilliant way to meet new people and pursue an interest. From sports to subject societies and niche societies like gliding, I guarantee you will find something that excites you! Additionally, obtaining a committee position in later years at UCL can garland your CV, making you more attractive to future employers.

Your degree

Part of throwing yourself into university life is, of course, getting the most out of your degree. The best advice I can give you is to make a friend in the years above. They can give you tips on modules you might enjoy, a bit of help with coursework, and generally alleviate any fears you might have about your course.

If you still need help with certain subjects and modules, be sure to make use of your professor’s ‘office hours’ - the time when they make themselves physically available to answer your questions. If you’re not free to meet your professor face to face, then dropping them an email will work all the same.

Finally, you should be scoping out all of UCL’s amazing libraries for a spot that you enjoy revising in - personally, I’m a big fan of Senate House! Whatever you choose, this will be your home towards the end of the year, so do your research! 


It’s only been a few months but you’ve already realised that living in the city can be expensive! Here are some money-saving tips that you can action right away:

  1. If you drink, pre-drink (have a few drinks at home with a friend before going out).
  2. If you cook, shop at Lidl, Aldi, Morrisons or another cheaper supermarket (shop around for the best deals).
  3. Even if you don’t cook, a sandwich in tupperware is both cheap and (usually!) healthy.
  4. If you need clothes, try the semi-regular charity kilo sales around London.

If you value your possessions, lock your door! Also, consider buying gadget insurance.

Ignazio Bacile Di Castiglione, BSc Political Science and Philosophy