How to live a successful student life

posted by Chris Valentine

Without a doubt one of the hardest things to do is move to university. For the first time in your life you won’t have the safety net of home surrounding you anymore and despite the fact we all claim to be independent, sometimes we’re simply not. It’s a fairly overwhelming experience to get free roam of your own life. The first few weeks will be a whirlwind with the three ‘p’s becoming a staple of your everyday life: pasta, pizza and pot noodles. Freshers events fill your evenings and sleep will fill your days, but as much as the social aspect will contribute to an unbelievably quick first semester, the reason you’re there soon establishes itself — the dreaded education.

Trying to navigate your way around the place and play icebreaker challenges for a week is difficult. But then, the deadlines start to slowly fill your calendar and the nights out lessen themselves. Five a week becomes three.

Regardless of your age, managing your life is tricky, however doing it for the first time is most definitely daunting. So, if you’re heading off this September to do a whole lot of growing up, we suggest looking at our definitive guide to student survival.

Prioritise washing

Wearing odd socks is something that can be overlooked, however a Christmas jumper in July isn’t something that goes unnoticed. It’s rubbish, no one likes doing the washing but the longer you leave it, the worse it gets. Every time you take something from your drawer, adjust your habits so once you get changed, you put the dirty clothes into the wash basket. Red and white aren’t an advisable combination, unless you’re using colour catchers. Likewise, if you don’t know how to use the washing machine, guessing can be a rash decision. If the instruction manual isn’t close by, call upon your good old friend, Google.

Learn how to cook

The three ‘p’s are always a popular go-to food choice, however this won’t always cut it during those long days at university. Organic coffee may help when you’re trying to hit those deadlines but you also need proper brain food! Cooking on a meal by meal basis can often prove expensive and similarly wasteful. Meal planning is essential if you are to save both time and money. A packet of mince, a tin of chopped tomatoes, a few different vegetables and some spaghetti can be bought for £3, providing enough food for four meals. Freezing food is something you probably never did before, but at university it becomes an absolute lifesaver. Did you know you can freeze milk to prevent it from going off?

Stay in shape

In the UK, almost every university will provide training facilities. It may seem like a lot of money, especially when you’re scraping pennies together to buy a pint, however it’s a worthwhile investment. Studies have shown that most students put on somewhere between one and two stone in the first year of university. The weight gain usually has been found to have links to drinking, stress and an unhealthy diet.

Another great way university’s help you maintain a good level of fitness is by having sports teams you can join. The wide range of clubs means you’re almost guaranteed to find something you like. It’s not just football, hockey and rugby anymore!

Getting from A to B

If the campus doesn’t sit directly in front of your bedroom window and the weather is typically British, travelling to and from places can be a task. Most inner-city campuses tend to be okay in this regard, however if you’re living or studying on the outskirts, taking a car with you might be the more economical option.

Try something different

You need get involved – yes this is easier said than done, but it’s important. Put yourself out there, as Snow Patrol once sang, ‘This is your life, this is your time.’ Sign up for clubs, go along on course nights out and most importantly, try with your flat mates. It can be incredibly scary moving in with new people for the first time, but remember, they are in the exact same boat as you.

If you aren’t enjoying yourself go and speak to someone, don’t just hide it. Again, universities provide free counselling for students, but don’t give up until you’ve given it your best shot — nothing ventured, nothing gained.

It’s all money, money and more money

It’s all down to you to manage your budget. Just like cleaning and washing, no one enjoys doing it, but it is a necessity. The congratulations cards you receive, or the twenty pounds your grandparent stuffed in your back pocket before you left won’t last forever. Find out the different things you can do for free in your city, plan your trips home well in advance and don’t constantly buy takeaways. As much as salted chili chicken or a Texas BBQ pizza may be your favourite hangover cure, think of how many meals you could’ve made for the same price. Also, for those looking for a low-cost car to insure and a one that has a positive relationship with parking, the Renault Clio has became a popular choice amongst students.

Time will fly at university and it will be the best experience of your life. So, make the most of it and by following our simple plan you might just be able to make things a whole lot easier.

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