I remember when I was about to start at university. It was a strange, perplexing time and wasn't sure if I'd make friends, know people, know what to do or where to go. Having said that, it made life that little bit easier having a unique medical condition - Tourette's syndrome. Now for those who know about it, I have the very stereotypical "full whack" of it, causing me to shout profanities and honk quite loudly. This, believe it or not, made my life a lot easier as everyone knew who I was and where I was.
On the other hand, for those who don't have a strange disadvantage/advantage like I did, it's better to start rolling the bandwagon before you actually get there. By this, I mean "social networking" on a level where it's only students, and nobody else. I've got two I want to throw out there, one for the UK and one for universal demographics and countries.
yougofurther is funded and created by UCAS, the UK's university and college admissions service. Not only do UCAS help you get into the college and university of your choice, they also help you feel at home by introducing you to people who either will be going to your university and/or course that you chose. Not only that, it's also fun to search for your friends you've met after you started, and remind yourself of what an idiot they are; all for your own amusement of course.
If nothing else, it'll make you feel more comfortable seeing some faces of those you'll end up knowing. The difference with this site is that you are meant to develop your initial friendships online, then move them to an offline, real-world environment. The site is free, non-profit and sports a whole range of other sub-pages including a job database so you can apply for work before you get there, advice on money and how to deal with your finances, as well as general advice on any worries you may have.
TheClassConnection is another site which lets you connect with people you will inevitably meet anyway. You may well think, "well what's the bloody point then?", but it's more than that. Considering the chances of you knowing someone at this vast new place are slim to none, you'll need a comfort blanket in form of pre-set relationships.
It's not only just a great way to start making friends before you start at university; it's also something useful to keep close to your chest once you've started. As before, you can search for people of your university or course title, but also find people through extended friends - through those you already know to branch out within the same friendship group. By adding classes allows you to branch out to those on your course through a series of options, which will then help you out at a later stage once you get your assignments flooding in (and they do - tsunami style).
The clever part of this, is if you specialise in a specific area or you've already completed a module, you can offer yourself up as a tutor. By writing your notes, introducing your own material, pictures and diagrams, and even a wiki if you feel confident, you can allow others to learn (and not plagiarise) off your work, making it that easier for others. With the entire Web 2.0 feel to the website, it's a piece of cake to get started and something which can be easily as addicting as your existing, personal social network.
Whereas normally I'd write something and leave it at that, I thoroughly urge anyone going to university to start with one of these social networking sites. You'd be surprised how much better you'll feel about the whole moving process, and you'll feel a hell of a lot more settled and comfortable once you get there.