How To Adult Successfully

So it’s 2018, you think you’re going to make big changes this year because ‘new year, new me!’ You vow to wake up on time for your lectures, not spend all your loan the day it comes in and work hard. Except…it’s now February, and you’ve fallen back into your old habits: you’re back to snoozing your alarm, your bank account is already worryingly low and somehow you’re behind on lectures even though it’s only been a month.

It’s okay if that happens, it’s really hard to actually change behaviours. I’ve been trying to get up earlier this term rather than my normal 11am because I’m so busy, but it’s really hard because I have to self-motivate myself. However, if you find that you’re stressing about things as I always do, there are ways to actually look like you’re a successful adult, even if you probably don’t feel like one yet.

 

  1. Buy a planner/calendar

This is so useful to have on you! A small little diary that you can pick up from a stationary shop or a supermarket for less than £5 and you can write down all the things you need to do and attend. I’m not a forgetful person, but having a visual reminder of something that I need to do is really helpful for me just to remind myself to do something. A calendar is also a really nice visual thing to hang in your room where you can write everything down for the month if you don’t want to carry round a planner.

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  1. Sticky notes

As you can see, there’s a bit of a theme going here; I really like organisation! It gives off the appearance that I actually have my life together. I’ve written about sticky notes before, but they’ve helped me so much just because it’s just another visual way to remind me that I need to do stuff. I try to write a to-do list in the morning and then I aim to tick it all by the end of the day. It’s really satisfying to see all of your jobs ticked off for the day.

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  1. Budget

The dreaded word right? Your parents are always telling you to be sensible with your money but how can you do that when you need to buy food, alcohol and books? It all adds up, and a lot of people can get a bit overwhelmed. You just need to sit down by yourself or with a friend and go through your recent bank statements to see what the majority of your money is going on. Invest in an app that tracks your spending so you can see where your money is going – they have loads now and they’re really helpful –  and allocate a certain amount of money each week to particular things like shopping, alcohol and emergency things etc. You might find by the end of the month you have spare money which is always a bonus.

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  1. You need three things to be successful: a water bottle, a plastic container and a travel mug

If you followed the last tip and looked at your expenses, you might see that you’re spending nearly £10 a week on coffees and lunches on campus (I know I was at one point) just because it’s so convenient. You can save money on water by using the water fountains on campus; if you use your plastic Tupperware you can save money on lunch by making your own, and with your travel mug you can bring tea or coffee from home. That just saved you around £5 which if you did every day, would save you £25 a week! And if you really can’t beat the coffee habit on campus, then you can still use your travel mug and get 10p off all your hot drinks orders at SU venues

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  1. Make time for yourself

I know this sounds odd, all of the above are about making yourself more organised, saving money and doing ‘adult’ things. But it’s actually really important that you also don’t burn out. University is a really stressful environment, no matter what your parents think, and if you’re constantly stressed and running about doing things it’s going to affect your health. It’s important that after a long week that you take a day to relax, try and not do any work, or at least only a minimal amount and recharge. You’ll find yourself more optimistic about the following week and be ready to give it 100%

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These are only a small number of little habits that you can do to save yourself some time and money, but also be a bit more organised and less stressed which I’ve heard is all the things adults aim for! If you’re really struggling to change some habits, there’s loads of websites out there giving helpful advice about things you can do that make your life just that little bit easier.

 

Spring Term: What’s going on?

Colchester and the university have many events planned out from now till the Easter break. Without further ado, let’s see what’s in store!

SubZero

SubZero was voted the Best Student Venue in the UK and to this day is still a very popular place for students to enjoy their nightlife. The venue will continue to provide weekly events like Sports Fed and monthly ones such as Coko. This term, the SU will be inviting many famous faces: Cascada, Tim Westwood, Danny Howard and the Ministry of Sound. Remember to buy your tickets early for these events, as they’ll most likely sell out and door tickets might not be available. Other major events include a UV paint party (wear something you don’t mind getting dirty), beach party and Viva Las Vegas (a local recreation of a Vegas casino. Get a chance to win £100,000 by only spending £3). But wait! There’s more! If you’re a fan of nostalgic music, SubZero is having 80s, 90s and 00s rewind. Last entry for these events is 12:30-1AM and ID is required. Please drink responsibly.

SU Bar

Events here are usually calmer, making it ideal for relaxing with a few friends, grabbing a drink and listening to good music. It also doesn’t have fit-inducing lights and gut-wrenching sound volumes. Milk It and the SU Bar Quiz occur every Monday and Thursday respectively. Milk It runs from 9PM to 1:30AM where people sing karaoke of their favourite songs and moves on to cheesy music at midnight. The quiz starts at nine and the jackpot is usually around £100. The rules are simple: 6 is the maximum number of people on a team and phones are not allowed. Furthermore, the NFL Super Bowl is being broadcasted on the 4th of February where the New England Patriots are playing against the Philadelphia Eagles.

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For only £3.50, you can watch a selection of recently released movies on campus. Films being shown this term are Wonder, Ferdinand, the Disaster Artist, Jumanji, Pride, Pitch Perfect 3, Molly’s Game, Darkest Hour, Maze Runner 3, The Post and the Greatest Showman. There are multiple screenings of each movie so don’t fret if one of the showings sells out.

Sports Centre

For the duration of the term, the Sports Centre provides Just Play sessions for a wide variety of sports, including ones that most people haven’t heard of like Pickleball and Floorball. You can find out when these sessions are by visiting: https://www.essexstudent.com/sport/justplay/

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         New Sports Centre               Photography credit: sourced via http://blogs.essex.ac.uk/essexdaily/2016/12/14/new-sports-centre-development-gets-underway/

LGBTQ+ History Month

February is LGBTQ+ history month which means theat the SU will create events that cater to those who identify as LGBTQ+. The LGBT+ community will be holding fundraisers and the donations will go to the Outhouse charity. In addition to this, the Lakeside Theatre will be showing “A Reason to Carry On” which is a play about a teenager discovering his identity. Generally, during this month, there will be forums and mixers for those who identify and those who are interested in the subject to discuss LGBT+ lifestyles and difficulties.

LGBT History Month - Book Club: Boy Meets Girl

Photography credit: sourced via https://www.essexstudent.com/ents/event/15134/

Other major events occurring on campus include Essex’s got Talent and this University’s version of the show “Take Me Out”, brought to you by Enactus. Make sure to buy your tickets early because these events will sell out immediately and I have no idea why.

Colchester Town

There aren’t many official events happening in town but the nightlife is still amazing in terms of clubbing. Also, in the Weston Homes Community Stadium, on the far side of town, there are weekly tributes to famous musicians and artists, old and new, such as Beyonce, ABBA, Lionel Richie, the Spice Girls and Whitney Houston.

By the time this blog is posted, some of these events may have terminated or sold out, but fear not, because there is still so much to do and this term has only just begun, kinda. Also, as the term progresses, the Student Union, uni and its societies will release more events.

 

Best deals you can get as a student!

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One of the best things about being a student, is the world of discounts that you can get a hold of. You may have heard that you can get free McFlurry’s and Cheeseburgers in McDonalds, but that is only where the discounts start my friend! Often all it takes is one quick show of your student card to get a reasonable discount to your bill. Result!

Here’s my guide to finding the very best of deals on the market…

Theatre tickets

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Theatre’s often have a reputation for being expensive, but a lot of the time they offer a sizeable discount for students. One of the biggest theatre discounts I’ve seen is through being a member of the National Theatre’s Entry Pass scheme. If you’re aged between 16 and 25 then you can get yourself £5 tickets that usually cost more than 8 times as much!

Music Streaming

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I really don’t know what I’d do without my music streaming! I don’t know how I survived before! Just because you’re a student doesn’t mean that you need to scrimp back on your music! Spotify and Apple Music both offer half price subscriptions for students at £4.99 per month.

Prime Student

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This is probably one of the most convenient things ever. By signing up to Amazon’s paid membership scheme you get access to several different features, most of which to be honest I don’t even use! But for last minute shopping and for getting things in a hurry, its one-day delivery service is a godsend! The video streaming service is also quite good too! After a generous 6 month free trail, Student membership is £49 a year. This may seem like a lot of money to pay, but if you shop online a lot then it’s well worth the investment.

Bank Accounts

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Banks love to rope students in when they go to Uni as people rarely switch bank accounts when they have graduated. This means that they pull out all the stops to lure you in to a potential lifetime of banking with them. Whether it’s overdrafts than can stretch to £3,000 or a 4 year railcard, it’s well worth checking out your options.

BOB

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Whilst this might not look like a discount, it’s still an awesome way to use your student status to save a bit of money. Box of broadcasts (or BOB for short) is an online portal of on demand TV and radio from the past 10/15 years. Okay, so here’s where the discount comes in… because it’s a learning resource you don’t even need a TV licence to use it!

NUS

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The National Union of Students (NUS), famously sell student discount cards that can be used at various retailers up and down the country including the Co-Op. It’s £12 a year to have a card and it’s well worth it if you shop regularly at the places where they accept the card.

Unidays

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Unidays is NUS’ main rival in offering a one stop shop for student discounts. You can set up an account on the app for free and then you have access to loads of offers including ASOS and Missguided. A lot of NUS’ discounts are also available on Unidays but the main difference is that you Unidays doesn’t offer an option to get a physical membership card. Instead you have to enter a unique code every time you want to use a discount. A brilliant option for those who don’t shop too often.

Many more to discover

These suggestions are only the start of the discounts you could make! Normally shops publicise if they offer a discount or not, but there is no harm in just asking at the checkout if they offer one. You never know how much you could get off! Even if it’s just a few quid, it all adds up! So next time you’re out shopping, it’s worth having your student card in your wallet just in case!

 

Relatable Advice on Revising for Exams and Finishing up Coursework

Holidays are meant to be period of relaxation and fun after surviving an entire term of stress and chaos. Lecturers try to space out the work over the term but for the last 2 weeks, they seem to realise that they miscalculated how much work they’ve given out and have to pile it up which results in mass panics and all-nighters in the library. You finally complete all your assignments and the holidays are here, but if like me, you were unlucky, you were given more coursework to finish in addition to January exams. I told myself I had plenty of time to study. I was right except my brain fed into my confidence and lured me into a false sense of security. Two weeks later, BAM, it hit me that I’d been procrastinating for too long and I had not even looked at the work I had. At least I was all caught up on Agents of SHIELD and the Flash series!

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Here are some good, and hopefully easy tips to creating work-play balanced, stress-free environments:

  1. Sort out the technicalities of your work

By technicalities, I mean workload, all the information that is essential or helpful for your coursework/exams. Gather all the books, lecture notes and resources for the topics you’re using and place them in front of you. Let out a sigh of disbelief then proceed to separating your workload into lectures or chapters etc and calculate, reasonably, how much you can study in one day with regard to how many days you have left.

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2. Designate a study area appropriate to your atmospheric preferences

If you like peace and quiet, study in your room. If you like background noise, study on campus. If you don’t like studying then same buddy, but we have to anyways. Find somewhere that you can concentrate on actually doing work, so that you don’t procrastinate. Personally, I cannot study in my room because I find that I have too many distractions around me. I like studying in the Silberrad Student Centre because of background noise. People are probably doing the same thing as me, which motivates me to finish my work.

3. Give yourself generous breaks

During those long periods of revising, you’re bound to naturally get bored or tired and you’ll lose concentration. Take regular breaks in between and if you feel like you’re needing breaks too often, treat yourself to maybe an hour break. Perhaps watch an episode of your favourite show while having a small meal. That way you’ll feel more relaxed and comfortable and able to dive back into your revision. You’ll feel more determined to study harder and finish more work so you can have your well-earned break.

4. Set up a good sleep schedule

As everyone knows, sleep is important, especially during times like these. Your body only requires around 8 hours of sleep, so try to go to bed at around 11pm-12am at the latest and wake up at 8am. Science provides evidence that you have the most energy and concentration early in the morning, after a good night’s rest. Additionally, it means you’ll have more time to study during the day and therefore get more work done. If you continue on this schedule, your body and brain will get used to it and help you in the long run when you need to wake up early for exams or lectures.

5. Find a few friends or colleagues to work with

Revising on your own is a good way to stay concentrated on the work you’re doing. However, when you think you’ve got all the information down in your head, it would be beneficial to get in contact with your coursemates and form a study group. That way you can ask and answer questions and develop your analytical skills that are necessary for tests and coursework. Also, if your friends are motivated to study, you’ll be motivated too and in unison, you can get work done much faster.

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In the end, it all comes down to you. You know better than anyone else what you’re capable of, your study methods, pace and concentration. However, these pieces of advice should push you in the right direction and get you the grades you need and deserve.

My Uni Journey

I’d be lying if I said university life was a walk in the park. I started at Essex in 2014 and since then there have been plenty of ups and downs, although I’m pleased to say that the ups definitely outweigh the downs! Every year that I’ve been here (and on my year abroad) has brought new friends, experiences and memories. Some of it has been difficult and some of it has made me feel incredibly grateful to be surrounded by such amazing people.

First Year

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I think this was probably the most scared I had ever been in my life at that point. Moving to a completely different  place where I new nobody was very daunting, even though everybody was in the same boat and the fresher’s excitement meant there wasn’t really much time to be homesick. I went from being quite shy to becoming much more confident in myself and loving my uni life. Of course there were the scary first uni essays and all nighters but I wouldn’t change a thing about my first year at Essex. My flatmates became some of my best friends.

Second Year

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As a second year uni student, I thought I had it down. I’d survived first year, so second year shouldn’t be that much harder right? Well, it was. I learnt I couldn’t get by as easily with the first year habits of doing everything last minute. I think the turning point for me was crying about an essay over chicken nuggets at midnight the day it was due. I know that sounds pretty funny and, in hindsight, it is. At the time though I felt like things couldn’t get worse, but I got through it and managed to finish second year with a place on the Dean’s List! For me, second year was definitely a bit of a roller coaster. I made more friends, drifted apart from others. I fell in and out of love for the first time. I tried new sports and got a placement that I loved where I still work now. I think this was the year that I felt like a proper adult, when I realised that sometimes things might not work out the way you want them to but that’s the way that they’re meant to be.

Year Abroad

IMG_20160903_144730804 croppedSo after successfully getting through second year I jetted off to spend my third year in Arizona. I was pretty nervous but completely by chance I was going with one of my best friends so we were in it together. Moving abroad was an absolutely amazing experience and I learnt a lot about myself, as cheesy as that sounds! Whilst America is an English speaking country, there definitely were some cultural quirks that took a while to get used to. I got to travel to places I’d always wanted to go, I even spent my 21st birthday in Las Vegas! One of my favourite moments was driving down Route 66 sat in the back of a truck and I just realised how lucky I was. Of course there was homesickness here and there, but the fun I had on my year abroad completely outweighed any of this. If you are thinking of doing a year abroad though, keep in mind that you are actually there to study and 8 am classes are a thing, but that’s no reason to not enjoy yourself as much as possible!

Final year

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Now I’m back at Essex and really loving my final year. It has been stressful, especially just before Christmas when I had four deadlines in two weeks. I’m pretty lucky though, in that I’ve managed to escape doing a dissertation. That does not mean I’m not working hard! I’m making sure that I put a lot of effort into this year so I can graduate with the degree I want. I’m still not sure of what I want to do and seeing people applying for graduate schemes sometimes makes me think I should be doing that too. For me though, I don’t want to rush into anything. After I finish uni, it’ll be the first time in my life that I don’t know what I’m going to be doing. That does scare me a little (maybe a lot!) but I am really excited!

Humanity and the Calais Jungle

I wanted to write about something current and crucially important- Humanity.  This word and its true meaning seem to have lost its sense of values, as I feel many individuals have turned their back on what is right and what is wrong.

In February, 2016 I have had the honour to be a part of the student team who visited the refugee camp in Calais, alongside the Colchester’s Refugee Action Group led by the most wonderful person I have ever met, Maria Wilby, who has devoted her time and effort to organise trips every five to six weeks.

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We travelled to the ‘Jungle’, a place where both hope and sorrow were fused into a new being which dominated the whole atmosphere.

As human beings, we have to have food, water and shelter in order to survive, but what happens when you do not have these primary needs? You cease to exist. So what happens if a team of volunteers offer you these needs? You have a means of staying alive.

We not only provided the refugees with clothing and supplies, but we also tried to alleviate the hardship and ease the feeling of abandonment, creating meaningful connections, giving them a purpose to keep their dreams alive, and giving them hope.

The camp was located across the channel which separates England from France.  Why have I used to past tense? This camp does not exist anymore. While we were on the ferry on our journey back to England, we were shocked by the news that after we left, half of the camp was demolished.  The last shelters were demolished in October 2016, leaving just debris to be cleared.

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Officially about 7,000 migrants lived in the camp. The Help Refugees agency said the final population ahead of its demolition was 8,143.

We spent countless hours trying to sort clothes, products and different bit and pieces, all donated by well-intentioned human beings from all over Europe. However, I cannot stop myself but to mention that there were certainly some items which were utterly inappropriate… such as bikinis, Halloween costumes, etc. You just need to let your imagination fly away and you’ll find all the unimaginable things, lying around with the precious jewels: jumpers and cosy coats.

There was a ‘Shame Wall’ inside the warehouse, where we spent 2 long days, sorting and checking everything.

Every weekend, there were trucks delivering the items we sorted, although there was no system in place to deal with what was distributed, as it all worked upon the needs and the requests of the camp residents.

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I  distributed sleeping bags and I saw how the residents were lining up for hours, waiting to see what we had to offer, begging us for food, warm shoes and jumpers. Trauma was everywhere, as was police brutality, and we were not excluded. The French police had stopped us from trying to reach the distribution point, and we had to walk with the sleeping bags for 1.5 km, trying not to get stuck in the mud. Tear gas was common, as it was constantly used to stop the refugees climb onto trucks and escape to England, as well as the horrendous wounds and injuries which were seen on almost every camp resident.

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England was seen as the land of promises. They were begging us to take them to England and save them from this mess that they had to call home.

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I believe that the most heart-breaking moment from this whole experience was the moment we have spoke with a 12 year old girl, whom was working at the Radio station in the camp. She told us that she walked with her mother and her 6 year old brother from Afghanistan to France. She spoke English, Arabic, German and she was struggling to learn French, as well. She had impressive dreams. She wanted to become a journalist and show the whole world the reality. She wanted to showcase the truth, a truth which was entirely manipulated by the media.

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I am more than glad and thankful that I have had the opportunity to experience and see an objective perspective upon the matter, one that is utterly different from the one the media depicts, one in which the whole humanity matter is put under a massive question mark.

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Until next time,

Mimi

 

 

 

A Student’s Guide to Being Productive

Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t love a little longer in bed every morning? The answer to this is pretty much everyone, unless you’re that rare unicorn breed of student who has never even heard of the snooze button. I am the type of person who will get out of bed at the very last possible minute. I might be making myself sound a little lazy here – and yes some days I do eat breakfast in the afternoon – but I prefer to think of myself as just saving energy and time for stuff I really want to do. Because of this, throughout my time at uni, I’ve discovered a few little shortcuts to being a more productive person whilst also still allowing myself plenty of time to eat ice cream whilst watching too many YouTube videos. So, I’m going to share with you the tips and tricks that have helped me make it through the last couple of years.

Essays

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No matter how much you love your degree, I’m sure we all have times where we’d rather not be doing that essay and be doing something much more fun instead. When I was a first year, I made the mistake of having my fun and then doing my essay the night before it was due. I have learnt from my mistakes and hopefully you can also learn from them. Now I make sure to start my research about a week or two in advance. Once I’ve done all my reading and a little plan, I can whip up an essay in a couple of hours. This might not work for you, depending on how you prefer to work, but for me it means I can get things done quickly. I’ve also learnt that Ctrl+F is my best friend when it comes to searching really long articles for key information. I also do my bibliography as I read so I no longer have the horrible feeling of completing an essay, but still having to reference. I guess the key here is to just plan slightly further in advance. Whilst doing your whole essay in one night might take less time, it definitely makes things a lot more stressful and you’re most likely sacrificing quality too!

Food

giphy I can’t lie, I am partial to a midnight Babybel

I love food. Like really love food. I will eat to procrastinate because yes I do need to a bowl of cereal an hour after eating my dinner. Whilst trying to stop myself doing this takes a bit of willpower, I do try and reward myself. After I’ve finished my reading I’ll have a snack. This gets me to do my work fairly quickly, purely because I’d rather eat delicious food than spend more time staring at a screen. I’m also not a huge fan of cooking, well more so the washing up that comes with the cooking. To minimise the amount of washing up I have to do, I tend to cook things in bulk. It’s a student cliche but pasta dishes are probably the easiest to cook and there’s so much variety. I can cook myself a bolognese that gives me four portions, eat one and then pop the others in the freezer, sorted! Plus there’s an added bonus, whilst you’re cooking your lovely meal you can make a quick sandwich for lunch for the next day. There’s no better way than getting all your food preparation out of the way at once!

Make time for yourself

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If you’re a busy person like me, you’re going to need some time to relax and just be… well…lazy. The way I try and do this is to keep weekdays for working and studying and then give myself at least a day at the weekend to just do whatever I want. It’s a great way to just forget about uni work for a bit and just enjoy myself. Sometimes I’ll go shopping or I will just have a lie in. No matter how hard you feel like you have to work, taking some time out away from that will allow you to come back with fresh eyes.

I hope you’ve managed to get a bit of advice from how I live my crazy lazy life but for now I have to go and do my washing up (sorry housemates)!

Somehow House Hunting Is Just As Stressful As Exams

January at university is full of stress: January exams, January essays, getting back into January lectures. But worst of all: housing. In December you start making tentative plans about who you want to live with next year, where you want to live, and then in January, everything has changed. Someone has backed out, another person has joined the group, and you still haven’t decided where to live. It all seems very overwhelming; you have to find a house to live in, but you have no idea where to start. But looking for housing shouldn’t be stressful, it should be fun; you’re moving in with your new mates and you get to move out of halls. So here are some things that I’ve learnt when looking for housing.

 

  1. Decide the budget and location early on

Be honest with your housemates. Tell them what you can afford. More than likely they will be very accommodating of your budget as they will have a similar one, and you’ll probably want to go for the cheapest house anyway. Location is also very important. It’s all very good finding the cheapest house ever, but it might also be a forty minute walk away from university. Which is fine in the summer, but in the middle of winter when you have a 9am it’s not going to be fun. Finding a balance between budget and location is key, so that you can have fun with all the money you get to save, and the nice twenty minute walk instead.

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  1. Do not go for the cheapest house

If you love it, and everything is amazing, and the beds are comfy then go for it. But often, if it’s really cheap, then it’s that price for a reason. Unfortunately landlords sometimes take advantage of students’ naivety and they end up with a house that sprouts mould in the winter, or has no insulation. When I was looking for a house with my friends, we didn’t really know what we were doing. Thankfully we ended up with a decent house, but we could have ended up with much worse. Go look at the house multiple times, and if you can get an adult/someone more experienced to come with you, because they’ve probably bought a house and know the warning signs to look for

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  1. Be honest

Everybody has bad habits, some you can live with, some you can’t. Have an honest discussion with your future housemates about what you expect from the house. What can you live with, and what do you really hate? Your house is going to be smaller than your university halls, so you’re going to see your housemates more often and this may lead to arguments. This is especially true in the winter and you’re fighting over the heating, and how messy the kitchen is. Sit down with your housemates before you move in and have a chat about it. It will definitely be awkward but it will help to avoid some arguments in the future.

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This will be you and your housemates at some point in second year

 

  1. Be realistic

Your house is not going to be like your house at home. It will probably not look that great. Most people say this about the towers, but those who lived at the towers in their first year (myself included) had a year full of great memories to look back on. This is going to happen in your second year house too. Your furniture won’t be modern, your kitchen can probably fit two people in it, and your bedroom will probably be about the same size. But you’re going to have a lot of memories in it too, so embrace it!

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  1. Don’t Panic

Probably since you’ve come back from the holidays, housing has been the furthest thing from your mind. But now exams are over, and lectures have begun, suddenly everyone is talking about housing and who they want to live with. The biggest rumour that goes around is that by the end of February, all of the good houses will be gone. I worked as an office assistant in SULets in my second year, and people were still able to find a house in April. So don’t panic, there’s plenty of houses out there, and loads of people to share with!

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Happy house hunting!

Self-Esteem Issues: My Tips

It’s 2018, readers, and everyone’s making resolutions. Your Facebook feed is full of people you forgot you went to school with posting selfies captioned #veganuary and #newyearnewme. They won’t last. This year, at midnight, I realised I wanted to change the way I saw myself. I’ve suffered from dangerously low self-esteem for probably around 11 years and until now, I had sort of settled into it. Instead of understanding that my feelings were unhealthy and incorrect, I took them as basic truths about myself and tried to manoeuvre my way through life with low self-esteem as the albatross hanging around my neck.

Obviously, when you try and cultivate healthy relationships and interests this way, you’re destined to crash and burn. It’s like building a house on an Indian burial ground: sure, when you first move in everything seems perfect, but before long, lamps start flying and a poltergeist drags you out of bed by your ankles. Instead of making my resolutions on top of my low self-esteem, this year my aim is to exorcise my mind completely and start again. Here are my ideas about how to do this, in case you want to try with me.

#1. The 7 Second Rule

No, not the 7 second rule you’re thinking of. The one that says you’re only allowed to think about awkward moments for 7 seconds, and then you have to let them go. I can’t take credit for this idea, and you can find the full article on the concept here (https://jezebel.com/just-give-it-7-seconds-1795766407) , but I’ve found that this is really helping. As an anxious person, I frequently find myself in situations where I can’t think what to say and then end up talking for way too long. The OLD Will would think about that approximately every 5 minutes for the rest of his life, but I’m determined to leave that behind. It’s important to acknowledge that awkward things happen, but that they literally mean nothing unless you make them.

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#2. List the things you like about yourself.

This is a hard one for me, because for some reason my brain is wired to negate every good thing about myself or justify it by creating some evil reason for it. I’m funny? That’s because I have a pathetic need for everyone to like me, and I can’t hold a conversation. Also I’m not that funny. Idiot. This is how my brain works. So, I’m just shutting that off and keeping the first part, before the “but” kicks in. I have a Google doc which contains my list of nice things about myself, in the hope that its length will be enough to convince me that I am, in fact, a nice human being. It seems self-aggrandising and arrogant at first, but that’s the low self esteem talking! It’s good for you.

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#3. Eat well.

This doesn’t mean avocado for lunch and a small salad for dinner. You should eat in a way that makes you glad you’re eating. This also, however, doesn’t mean eating junk all day every day like me. Eating well is about eating the foods you enjoy in moderation, and maintaining a balanced relationship with food. It’s astonishing how closely linked eating is with mental health. From the January blues, to gaining your summer body, food weighs on our mind almost all of the time. My tip for myself is to eat three regular meals, made by myself, at least five days a week. No more packet of crisps at 12pm, then nothing till 6 when I have beans on toast, and then a 1am curly fry fest. If you want to control your mental health, your diet is a great place to start.

(If you’re interested in the idea of eating well, you ought to follow Ruby Tandoh on Twitter. She’s an amazing food writer and chef and her ideas about what we should eat are revolutionary.)

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#4. Wake up before midday

This one seems like it should be easier than it is. For most of my time at university, I’ve woken up bleary-eyed at 11:30 with a splitting headache,  unwilling to do anything except stare at my phone for the next hour and a half. On the rare occasions I made it to my 9am, I would concentrate on not falling asleep for the hour, then leg it home and nap for the rest of the day, forgetting anything I learned in the process. No more! I’m sick of beginning the day in such a depressing way, so I’m making the effort to actually exist in the morning. This means I set my alarm for 9 o’clock each morning (no earlier, I’m not a monster), and always being stocked up on some great cereal. Great cereal is the key to a great morning.

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#5. Take some time every day to do something you love

The most underrated self-help tip of all: if it makes you happy to do it, you should probably do it. Obviously this comes with a number of asterisks, but on the whole, you should follow what your brain wants. Watch a movie, play an instrument, go for a run, read. Even if you’re swamped with work, you can take time out to catch an episode of Friends, or listen to the new Charli XCX album (like I am).

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Homesickness? How about Unisickness?

Leaving home to study is not an easy decision to make, especially if you’re leaving your home country, departing to a new one. It’s not like a school trip, or a sleepover; it’s for at least one term, and in most cases, for 1 or more years. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the closer your departure dates arrives, the more your family members get emotional.

But have you ever felt like you miss University while being at home? Everyone is constantly discussing about homesickness and its symptoms, but what happens when you got so used to the university life you don’t want to go home?! During this Christmas break I have had time to reflect upon the perks of university life, those little things which makes deadlines and exams a little bit bearable.

Here are 10 things which I have truly missed during this Christmas break:

  1. Your mates are not at walking distance from you

 

It really hurts to know that you can’t just get out from your room and knock on your mate’s room and have a chat. I’ve reached unprecedented levels of boredom and anxiety while being left alone at home, without anyone to keep me company.

I had to take a flight to get to my best friend from uni and visit her, while at uni, I just had to knock on her door.

  1. Banter

You might think that your jokes are without doubt the best quality jokes someone can make, but there is one slight change: the audience is not the same. It has happened to me a lot to crack some jokes with my friends from back home and create an awkward silence. It’s not fun when you need to explain your jokes. Not at all! And in the end, you’re left feeling like a clown.

  1. Nights out

I don’t even know how I managed to go out back home! Oh, I know, I was living off my parent’s money! Nights out at home aren’t as nice as they used to be. Now, everyone has a new group of friends, constantly talking about them, or even introduce them to you. It all changed. The moment you realise that you’re feeling nostalgia, you know it’s all gone.

  1. Walking distance? What’s that?!

Having everything just under your nose? Not at home. Or maybe, it’s just my case. As I have been lazy, I haven’t got my driving licence; therefore I need to rely on public transport/friends/family to carry me around my hometown, which is certainly a hassle.

  1. Eating habits

DO NOT EAT THOSE CHICKEN NUGGETS AND FRIES! I can even see my mum’s disappointment and disapproval even thinking about it. At university nobody judges. This is the cardinal rule. You can have whatever you want, at whatever hour. You’ll even have a partner in crime to devour those greasy chips at 3 am in the morning.

On the bright side, you’ll start to eat healthy again.

  1. Cleaning up

Now that you’re home, there is no need for your parents to clean up the whole house, is there? That’s why you instantly become the new maid! Hurray! Leaving dirty dishes for more than 2 days? That’s a big no, no! Farewell to the lazy you and welcome the new you! Well…. at least until you get back to your uni home.

  1. No freedom

I have taken for granted those moments in which I could just grab my jacket and go straight to Tesco’s at 2 in the morning, with no one complaining about my decisions.  Whenever it was past 9pm and my foot was just about to get out the house, the questions began:

  • Where are you going?
  • I hope you won’t turn out later than 12pm
  • With whom are you going out?
  • Can you give me their phone number?
  • Who will drive you home?
  • DO NOT DRINK!
  1. Drinking

Going out clubbing and coming back drunk is a big NO. I can’t even imagine the looks on my parent’s faces while the whole room spins and my stomach screams for water. I just can’t. I do not even know how I managed to do it while being in high school.

  1. Library/ Study Centre

I had an essay due and I was too carried away with thinking that I will finally hang around with my friends from back home, that took for granted the possibilities of studying and writing in an environment which was especially created for this matter. I CANNOT STUDY OR DO ANYTHING IN MY ROOM. It is so distracting. I stumbled across a photo album with pictures of myself when I was about 3-5. It took me a day and a half to make myself stop procrastinating and start working.

  1. Being able to lay in my pyjamas all day long

I think this is the most accurate depiction of the student life. The power to choose whatever you want to wear, without having to deal with your mother’s disapproval, not even her fashion choices.  YES! I CAN FINALLY GO OUT AT WINTER WITHOUT A SCARF STRANGLING ME!

Here they are! My top 10 perks of living at Uni, which I have been desperately missing while at home. Life is indeed difficult when you practically have 2 places which you call home, as well as two sets of friends, 2 sets of jokes, 2 different sets of lives, if I were to be truely dramatic.

Until next time,

Mimi.