Freshers’ guide to…Keeping Safe

Nights out

One of the times when you may become your most vulnerable during your time at university is during nights out. Whether you’re traditionally from a friendly town, or whether you think you’re already streetwise enough, you need to be aware that you are beginning a new chapter of your life in a new, unfamiliar town. 

During freshers, the university want you to have the best time exploring the town and campus facilities, making new friends and becoming comfortable in your new home. But this doesn’t mean that the university can always ensure that you are 100% safe. Therefore, there are some easy precautions that you will need to take to ensure that freshers’ week and beyond are as enjoyable as possible for you.

Staying in groups

The most important tip for staying safe on a night out is to always stick in a group, preferably of four or more. Whilst on the university’s campus they’ll be 24-hour security that you can contact as well as monitored CCTV cameras to ensure that you are safe. Staying in a group will make you less vulnerable to anyone dangerous whilst also ensuring that there are more hands, brains and phones if you did happen to find yourself in danger. It’s always a good idea to try and stick together whilst in queues and clubs too as then it’s less likely that you’ll lose each other. Group loo trips are also a wise idea too if you are visiting the nightclub in only a small group of people.

There may be other times during your university experience when you might have to walk alone in the dark, for example on the way home from work or a late running society. If this is the case, try either getting a reliable taxi back, ringing the university security line and asking them to meet you or monitor you on campus CCTV, or ring someone to speak to on your walk home. Similarly, ensure to stay alert at all times. If possible, walk in well lit, busy areas and don’t listen to music via earphones as this can make you more vulnerable. It is also an option to carry a persona; alarm if particularly concerned about the area. These can be bought from various online sites including Amazon.

Know your numbers

Another important thing to remember before a night out is to have your phone fully charged. During pre-drinks if you are using your phone for music or games it’s possible that your phone may run out of battery quickly, leaving you with little battery for the night ahead. If you can try and take a portable charger to pre-drinks with you.

It’s also a good idea to ensure that you have essential numbers like all of your flat mates’, your accommodation warden’s and the university’s security in your phone in case you need to access them quickly (try not to rely on an internet connection whilst out). Likewise, it’s a good idea to have local, reliable taxi numbers in your phone for ringing at the end of the night. You should ask second year students (preferably the student reps for your accommodation) which taxi ranks are most reliable. It is also often better to use taxis instead of Ubers and buses if needing to travel home early on your own as these are safer and will drop you straight to your accommodation. And if you want to be extra cautious, why not write down a couple of taxi numbers and close friends’ phone numbers in case you lose your phone or run out of battery.

Protect your funds

A big shock for many students when they start university are the financial responsibilities. One of the biggest is the responsibility of holding a student loan in your bank accounts and learning not to spend it all at once. Your student loan is primarily to cover your university costs. The tuition loan is given straight to the university so there is no need to worry about this, however your maintenance loan you are in charge of organising into your accommodation fees (which must be paid to the university by the correct date) and any money that is left over which should be saved. The best place to store this money is in a savings account that can be made on most internet banking websites and apps.

If you come into any trouble with your bank, such a losing your bank card, ensure that you contact your bank immediately to sort the issue. If you suspect that you have dropped your bank card on a night out, ensure to cancel it as soon as possible and check that no unfamiliar transactions have been made. Additionally, if someone contacts you saying that they’ve found your debit card, you still need to cancel it as this person will have seen your details and may have taken a copy of them.

A top tip for looking after your money is to regularly check your funds via internet banking to ensure you are not chipping into your overdraft or overspending. It’s easy whilst at uni to become unaware of rapid spending when food shopping, take-aways and nights out come into the equation. If you’re worried about getting into a routine of this kind, try making a list each week at first to track how much you are spending on what and use this to help budget your living. Moreover, whilst some students are very put off by the idea of working a part-time job and missing out on some of the uni fun, working a couple of shifts a week locally can be a massive weight off of your shoulders when it comes to affording to treat yourself once in a while or paying for that extra journey home to visit your family. If you had a job during sixth form at a branded retailer or clothes’ shop, why not see if you can transfer to a store in the town of your university? If not, try looking on the university’s jobs’ website to see what opportunities there are on campus.

Cover image copyright of flickr/southshields

Taz Usher

English Language undergraduate and Entertainment Editor for the Spark Newspaper.

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