How to prepare for the independence of university months before you go!

University isn’t just about the studying and getting a degree. It is also about learning life lessons and most importantly gaining independence. But this is a big step. One day you go from mums home cooked dinner, cleaning (and lets face it she probably packed half your stuff!) to staring at the hob with a saucepan in hand thinking “right how do I turn this thing on?” But this step might not be so big if you do some preparing now.

Step 1: Buy the university essentials

So the first step to preparing for your independence is buying the things you’ll need to cook, clean and survive at university! Things such as saucepans, frying pan, cutlery, iron, can opener etc. Don’t go over board, buying things that you’re not even sure how to use it! Buy the things you’ll think you need. Do you never peel potatoes? Then don’t worry with the peeler! Hate grated cheese? Then leave the cheese grater out! Save yourself some money (which you can then use for freshers!) Starting to buy stuff now eliminates the pressure of having to buy everything in one go and inevitably forgetting something!

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Step 2: Learn to cook your own meals

If you’re anything like me, before I started uni the extent to my cooking was putting pasta in a saucepan or putting bread in a toaster. I had no idea how to cook for myself. And I never needed to, so it was great that going to uni gave me this opportunity. And just a FYI there is no toaster in towers…so you can’t just live off toast like you might be planning on!

Learn how to cook simple and quick meals (as well as cheap!). There are some great blogs on the i am essex blog page to give you ideas on the type of meals you could try at uni. My suggestions would be spaghetti bolognese, stir fry, and sweet and sour chicken. These are all easy meals that involve just a frying pan and saucepan! (You don’t even need to learn how to turn the oven on!)

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Step 3: Learn how manage money

So you’re in the process of applying for your student loan, and soon you will know how much money you’ll have to live off at university. The good thing is you get your student loan in termly instalments so if you go a bit mad first term you have a chance to pull it back!

When you know how much you’ll have each term you can start to work out a budget. How much will I have left once I’ve paid for accommodation? How much can I save for freshers week? Will I need to get a job? If you start becoming aware of the money you’ll be living off you can start to manage it! Check out the i am essex page for blogs on budgeting.

You should also start thinking about student bank accounts. I went for Santander which offers a free railcard and a reasonable overdraft! So if you are worried your spending, you’ll always have that to fall back to!

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Step 4: Learn some basic household chores

Another learning step at uni is learning to clean up after yourself and do some chores! One of the most interesting experiences at uni was every 2 weeks (or as long as I could hold on without doing any washing!) I’d have to carry all my washing across campus to the laundry room and try and work out how to use the washing machine!

Before coming to university it is a good idea to learn how to do your washing and ironing. Don’t be that person that put the red sock in with whites and now the clothes are pink! I have to say I really tried to avoid ironing and I pretty much got away with it apart from that one dress that always creased! Learning to iron is a good skill and you’ll be everyone’s favourite!

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Step 5: Getting ready to become an independent university student

Making these steps will help you prepare to become independent! Next step is to put them to test on your university journey.

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