Student Blog | Starting out at YSJ!

Student Blog | Starting out at YSJ!


First impressions count, right? That’s how you got through high school and college anyway. First impressions lead to jobs, which means money, which means more clothes. So you’re going to want some smart clothes to hang up in your wardrobe and keep tidy for when you find a job opportunity – and there are lots of those within the Walls of York.

Otherwise? First impressions are a bit useless when it’s the third day of Freshers, and everyone is hungover from the night before. Scrap that idea; no one cares for looking presentable after the night before. Buy a lot of comfortable, loose trousers, because they’re going to be your go to outfit of choice by the end of the first month. Sweat-pants go with tank tops and hoodies, guaranteed. Comfortable trainers are a must, because odds are, you’re going to start living in them.

Speaking of living, you won’t want to go barefoot on accommodation carpets, so a pair of decent, woolly slippers are essential. A sturdy enough pair will be able to see you through plenty of lectures, if your shoes start rubbing. From experience, by the time it hits winter, wear warm pyjamas and a hoodie. That, coupled with a thermos flask of coffee and a bag of crisps, constitutes to the dress code.

What matters though, is that at University, no one cares what you’re wearing – just like what grades you got at college!


By far the most important part of being a student. The booze collection is an old and time-honoured tradition which is very quickly depleted with pre-drinks and nights in. Good wine is too expensive and the cheapest they have tastes like the Ouse – but it’s all been drunk by the end of the night. Vows of ‘I’m never drinking again’ are often heard echoed through the walls from hoarse and hungover voices, and the kitchen stinks of drying alcoholic stains on the walls. This never ends, though it does become more sporadic as the days go by.

All I can offer you is with the booze, bring or buy mixers. It will save your life and your liver. If you aren’t used to the taste of the water in the tap, have bottles of water on hand to get rid of that hangover.

I’d recommend that if you don’t drink, find some accommodation which gets you away from the heavy drinkers. There will be nights where you’re trying to work and there’s a party going on next door, despite the rules against it. A decent set of noise-cancelling headphones will help. Then, in the morning, wear outside shoes, pick your way through the mess of upturned wine glasses, the plastic beer-pong cups and the puddles of alcohol on the floor, and open a window. If the Hungover have any sense, they’ll clean the kitchen up in their own time, and if they don’t, unplug the kettle and take it for a walk to your room.

Bedroom Décor

I’d recommend one or two boxes of pins to start customising your bedroom.

Pretty much every single student accommodation at York St John has pin-boards. Depending on the room, some have more than others, and of course, this is the time to let your imagination fly. These four walls are the ones you’re going to be looking at for the entire year, so you should make them pretty, mix them up and play around with them. Posters are often sold during Fresher’s Week, which means that if you didn’t have any already, you can get them cheap here.

Otherwise, arty duvets, bright coloured towels and a blanket or two should make your place as wacky as you’d like. Be warned that the accommodation curtains are likely to through a carefully thought-through colour scheme out the window, so go for what you want. By the third week, the chair in the corner will be covered in clothes that you don’t want to wash just yet, food will be scattered all over the place and the bin will be overflowing – you’ll clean it up eventually!

Cleaning Stuff

You don’t know where it’s been. You don’t know when the toilet was last used. Heaven forbid that you look into the bottom of the kettle. These sorts of things are usual and it’s never fun unless the microwave blows up on occasion. When you’ve got your keys and you’re at your room, take some anti-bacterial wipes and just wipe down every surface you can find, from light-switches to undersides of desks. Chances are it will have been cleaned by the previous occupants and then the cleaners, but from now on, these rooms are your responsibility. No biggie, right?

The drains and the extractor in the bathrooms are the biggest issues – flush the toilet right away, run the shower for a bit, try cleaning the extractor if you can reach it – and you should be okay if you use everything regularly.

Wear and tear in the rooms is a big problem, so if you see something that isn’t right, tell maintenance: they’re there for that reason. Within the first week, we had toilets that didn’t work, a broken shower head, a drawer handle falling off and a broken chair. Then the microwave blew up.

Nothing will work perfectly. Bringing your own kettle and your own toaster for everyone to share is better than risking the fire alarm for the one they have there – and the fire alarms are sometimes legendary.

Societies and Sports

You might think you’ve done your research beforehand. Stop, think again. All the societies and sports have taster sessions: all you need to do is sign up for them at Fresher’s Fair. The most popular thing to do is sign up for everything that looks fun, attend the taster sessions, and figure out if it’s really for you. For example, Drama Society and Musical Production Society are kind of similar in a small way, but Historical Re-Enactment Society and Archery Society contain some of the same aspects. Taster Sessions are designed to show you what the society or sport has to offer, which might not be what you think – but what you want. And if you don’t like it, don’t worry – just tell one of the organisers that you’re not interested and walk away. Or don’t tell them, ignore the emails and just pretend you never signed up. That works too.

5 Top Tips:

  1. In a fire alarm, do not forget your keys, your phone and a blanket or a hoodie. This isn’t high school where you have to leave everything and walk out in an orderly fashion. This is the part where you freeze to death in the middle of the night because someone left an oven ring on. It happens.
  2. Switch your room up every so often. You might not be able to move the furniture, but switch around the posters, rearrange the book case and move all the drawers around.
  3. Have a drawer for uni stuff, and a drawer for random stuff. The less on the floor, the less you’re going to stub your toe on from coming in from a night out. Clothes go on the complimentary clothes chair. 
  4. Check your emails regularly. Everything that happens goes through your YSJ email, like room changes and society events and opportunities you don’t want to miss.
  5. Need help? Student Desk in Holgate. They literally know everything, and if they don’t, they know who you should speak to. This information saves lives. One day it might save yours too.

J Keighley

Supporting York St John students to grow, succeed, and have a great time whilst at University


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