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stay safe

Freshers' Week: how to stay safe whilst you're at university

Moving to a new city is exciting and brings great opportunities, but it comes with new responsibilities.

When you start university and experience proper freedom for the first time, the last thing you want to be thinking about is safety. However, if you're not streetwise, you can end up on a night out that results in a trip to A&E, a lost phone and finding out your flat's been burgled—as if the hangover wasn't bad enough. Don't fret though, there are steps you can take to help keep you and your friends safe whilst exploring your new surroundings.

Keeping your home secure

Always remember to lock your doors, whether it's to protect your new laptop or to stop your drunken flatmate crashing in your room for the night. Even in halls, it's important to lock your things away as you don't know everyone living there, but be especially vigilant when moving into a student house as they're often targeted for burglary. It's also good to get into a routine of closing windows and setting alarms before going out, despite its initial annoyance, you'll be grateful for it in the long run.

Being responsible on nights out

It's part of the university experience to explore new bars and clubs, but it's important to watch out for you and your friends whilst enjoying it. Before going out drinking, be sure to eat something that can help absorb the alcohol to keep you on the dancefloor and not leaning over the toilet. Whilst in a club, be sure to keep your drink in sight and be aware of those around you, watching out for drinks offered by strangers as spiking is, unfortunately, still a problem. Nights out are safest when there's a big group of you, especially when it comes to getting the taxi home. Make sure you check in with your friends before leaving and always get a taxi back with at least one other person.

Being wary of scams

Before even getting to university, you'll most likely come across the endless adverts for Freshers' Week tickets and wristbands. Many of these deals are, at best, not offering great events and, at worst, completely fake. It can be easy to get sucked into these scams, especially when you're just looking to make the most of your time at university. Be sure to check with other students to see what people are doing and, if you can, find some older students (even older siblings) who might know more from past experience. Scams also occur in forms of identity theft and fraud so it's important to keep your details safe away from the wrong hands. Things like driving licences, student IDs, bank statements and official documents are important and should be looked after with caution to avoid such problems.

Peer pressure

At university, you'll meet some amazing people, but you'll also meet people who, despite seeming great initially, unveil their true colours as the term goes on. It's understandable to want to make a good impression when you first arrive, just remember that it's no big deal to say 'no thanks' and people should respect that. Although reinventing yourself at university can seem like a great idea, it's important to remember you are your own person and don't need to fit into a certain mould just because everyone around you seems to act a certain way. Stay true to yourself, don't do something just because everyone else is, and most importantly, stay safe.

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