Thrifty Studenting AKA Improvising Plates Out of Cardboard Because You’re a Terrible Person

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Let’s set the scene, you’re a month deep into your student loan, and after buying a fresh pair of creps, an entire new wardrobe and all of the pretentious coffees ever, you’re broke. Student life can be pricey, especially when the nights out get heavier and the desire to order takeaway in place of real food gets stronger. Here’s some ways to save that dollar.

All the discounts.

There’s a huge amount of shops that offer student discount, and you don’t necessarily have to have an NUS extra card, a lot of places will take your university card, or for online, Unidays is a life saver. Everywhere I go, whenever I am spending money, I always ask if there’s student discount, even if it feels silly, sometimes you are pleasantly surprised and get a little bit off.

Shared Netflix/ whatever you watch on. 

This could be hard now Netflix are limiting the amount of people that can watch at one time, but if you live in a house with your mates, and you all watch TV together, maybe consider all going in on a collective streaming account, save paying for an individual one each.

Do you actually need that Starbucks though?

I’m totally guilty of this, you get into your routine, lecture then Starbucks, day in day out. Granted, few can resist the pull of a  pumpkin spice latte, topped with whipped cream, but yikes, how much is that costing you?! Coffee isn’t cheap when you buy it everyday, if you need your fix, go for a flask, which holds more coffee, which is a total bonus.  It may seem like a tiny amount of money to grab a cappuccino at a coffee shop, but add that up, it soon starts to mount.  

Supermarket Sweep

Those little yellow stickers are like a glowing beacon of cheap brilliance as you walk down the aisle, the supermarket reduced counter is a great source for food, the reductions are great especially for things like meat and fish, I tend to stock up on seafood and freeze it.

For food in your fridge, I’ll leave this to your judgement, but for me, sell by dates are for the weak, nose test it and you’re good to go. (I am partially joking about this!) However, if you’ve got a bag of spinach which is still perfectly crisp and fresh that went out yesterday, you’re not gonna die if you use it in your dinner.

What are you doing buying name brand anything you lunatic!?! Supermarket own brand isn’t as bad as you think (maybe not the vodka.) Seriously, name brand food is for Oxbridge students and when you go home to your parent’s house for the weekend. I’m like an own brand bloodhound, that’s how you get when you’re a thrifty student, the packaging may not be as pretty but I promise, the majority of stuff tastes the exact same! In the case of instant noodles, Tesco’s ones are actually better, I swear!

Make gifts, don’t buy them

Christmas and birthdays are so damn pricey, my personal method of avoiding this cost is by hating everyone which makes my birthday list substantially lower, but for those of you that insist on being decent human beings and upkeeping friendships, while you’re at uni, making gifts in the form of food is always a winner. This is a great way to charm elderly relatives, especially my very old-fashioned nan, who up until this point was probably losing hope in her unhomely, terrible at cookery, no desire to get married and have children granddaughter, I made her fudge, and a little piece of her faith in me as a ‘proper woman’ was restored (let’s ignore how ridiculously 1950’s and outdated that sounds.) Plus you can totally eat some as you make it. Fudge is great and really really easy, I used old coffee jars, ribbon and pieces off of Christmas cards to package and managed to make it look like it was from some fancy artisanal farm shop. For friends, who should appreciate you for your ‘quirky’ flair, wrap their gifts up in tin foil, who buys wrapping paper? I’m not in my 40’s yet, that’s far too responsible.

Being Super Tight/ I’m The Worst 

Save water and washing up time and energy

Ok get ready, because this blew my tiny mind, when you buy crisps, push the bottom of the bag up inside itself, it makes a freakin’ bowl… wuuuut?! My housemate changed my life with that, not even exaggerating.

Also, if you’re making food for yourself, why use a plate when you can just eat from the saucepan, it tastes like decadence, just put a mat down and eat that pasta straight out of the pan, like a maverick. Same applies for baking trays, chips and chicken nuggets for a naughty tea? Go on, eat it off the tray, you’re a student, you have no shame.

Re-purposed cardboard is life 

Why would you do that? How many pizzas have you had? I use a lot of cardboard because I paint a lot, rip up that pizza box, boom! You’ve got yourself a palette.

Old cereal boxes double up as plates when washing up just feels a little bit beyond your skill set (for flat, dry food like toast, nothing rolly or runny like peas or ice cream obviously, but if you can’t work that out, you probably shouldn’t be at uni.)

If you’re even more of a money scavenger and you ebay like me, buying packaging for your sells can be expensive, I once sent an order off to a buyer in a re-purposed quavers box which had blown into my garden, that’s thrift right there, I’m not paying money for cardboard!

These are just a few things that you can consider doing, if you’re willing to stoop as low as me to save a penny.

 

 

Books, reading lists and everything in-between

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I “ummed” and “ahhed” for ages whilst deciding what I should write about this week, then a friend sent me a Snapchat picture (yeah thats right, I have Snapchat- I don’t really know how to use it but I have it!)

My friend had just been to Wivenhoe and discovered not one but two bookshops. To be fair, it is our own ignorance that we never ventured far into Wivenhoe to have a good look around- which is highly recommended by the way. As a result, for the past three years knowledge of these bookshops had completely escaped me and looking back I wish I had know about them. It would have saved me a considerable amount of time and money in getting books for my course.

And these are the questions that I have been asked on numerous occasions: What books do I need? Where can I find them?

Whilst I only really know about this from a literature student perspective, most of the information I provide about reading lists and book hunting is still relevant to most subjects.

Reading Lists

Every module will have a reading list of some sort. These will be the books that you require for that particular module and are often split into primary reading lists (texts you must read) and secondary reading lists (texts which you might find helpful).

Reading lists can normally be found on the module directory pages: https://www.essex.ac.uk/modules/ or on Moodle. If you can’t find any sort of reading list contact the module director or your departmental office.

New Books

Nothing beats a new book and these are often very easy to find. Of course you have suppliers such as Waterstones (our on campus bookshop, who stock most of the stuff that can be found on the primary lists- though books can also be ordered in); Wivenhoe Bookshop is an independent shop a short distance from campus which provides a friendly service. Of course you also have other options such as online retailers like Amazon.

NOTE: Some modules for departments such as law will recommend particular editions of texts and it is important to get these editions so that your book corresponds with everyone else. So it is in your best interest to buy the edition they ask for.

Second Hand Books

This is the best way to get books on a budget and there are plenty of options available to you. As part of the weekly Thursday Market in square 3 there is a second hand book stall which often has relevant books for different courses.

In addition you have the Colne Bookshop on the High Street in Wivenhoe and numerous charity shops in Colchester- perhaps the ones of note are the row of shops opposite Wilko (the number 61 and 62 bus will take you there from campus). In these cases you’ll find it quite common that past students on different modules will off-load their old books at these second hand stores. If you are lucky you may be able to pick up the entire terms books in one shop!

Online sites such as AbeBooks are also really useful.

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Library Books

An even more thrifty way to get books is to get them from the library. The on campus Albert Sloman Library will stock the majority of books on reading lists as well as extra and supplementary reading.

HOWEVER be careful as the number of texts available can vary greatly and if demand is high you’ll find it difficult to get hold of certain texts. People can also recall books which means that you will have one week in which to return it, so it is best to avoid getting out popular books if you can. This is not a good option if you like to write in your books!

Additionally there are also the libraries in Wivenhoe, Greenstead and Colchester Town which are run by Essex County Council and are a free to sign up to.

Online and e-books

Depending on your department/ module you may be able to access what is known as a “reader”- which is an online document that has been created by module director and often contains all the reading you need.

Otherwise there is also the option to use the library catalogue to find out if there are any e-books or online journals available- and at least with an ebook you won’t have other students desperate to recall it!

Organisational Tips for a Tidy Student Mind

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At university, you’re going to be overloaded with information and stuff to do, both fun and not-so fun, staying organised for some is natural, for others it’s a complete uphill struggle. Here’s a few tips that have proven useful to me during my first and second years at Essex.
Deadlines

Using a program like One Note or Evernote to organize all of your core uni details, you can use it as a sort of online pin board on which you can attach pictures, to do lists, links etc all in one place. I have a little picture of Campus Cat on mine to boost morale when my deadline list gets a little terrifying. I also have login details and useful notes that I may need like my weekly budget so I don’t spend all that sweet sweet student loan all at once, but more on that later!

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Keep a planner and a calendar! Keeping a little calendar on your desk, crossing off each day just to know where you are when it comes to deadlines, you will know exactly where you are in the month in accordance to when the abundance of coursework needs to be handed in.

Note Taking

Keep little project books or separate sections for every module. For me, I have to keep each module separate when i’m note-taking. I buy several A5 project books, just like the ones you used to get at secondary school, and decorate them accordingly so I know exactly which is which, my film module had a large clapper board, US lit had a star spangled banner, you get the picture. It also gives you a great excuse to get a bit crafty.

 

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Code your note taking to make it easy to quickly reference things. Do this to fit your best learning methods, I came up with a little key at the beginning of my note pad, with different emojis and symbols that I would draw in the margins for myself to be able to go back quickly when looking over my notes.

Make sure everything is clearly titled and subtitled so you can find it quickly for reference.

Illustrate your notes, this is especially good for visual learners, I personally learn so much more when I can remember a picture that relates to it, even a simple diagram can make something resonate so much more .

Money Money Money Money

Ok I know you’re gonna be all ‘but Chloe I’m not an idiot I know how money works.’ but coming to uni for many can be a completely new experience in independence, you have all this responsibility, rent to pay, laundry, monthly bills, the lovely list goes on! A lot of people get to uni and have had the pleasure of having never had to do any of that stuff, they get in that bountiful student loan, and within two weeks they’re into their overdraft and down to dried pasta and cereal for every meal. If like me, money seems to disappear from your bank account (not so) mysteriously, working out a strict weekly budget can really help you when it gets to the last bit of term and you’re crying to your mum on the phone because you can’t even look at another pot noodle.

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First of all rent, obviously, the best thing to do is pay that rent straight away, as soon as you have your loan, just pay it, it will hurt to see a thousand odd pounds go out of your bank but then at least you’ve paid for somewhere to live. Then all of those direct debits, Netflix, Spotify, whatever else has to come out, and an average for laundry spending. Then with all of that left over, divide it by the number of weeks till the next loan drops and hey presto! You’ve got a weekly budget that you can throw away on all the trash food and midnight amazon orders your heart desires!

Reading

You’re a student, no matter what you do, you’re going to be reading for the majority of your life now so get used to it. However for most, the reading list is so substantial and daunting, (and trust me, I’m a Lit student, I’ve been there) that they just give up and don’t read anything. They’re then faced with two terms of catch up reading to do when it comes to the revision period.

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Of course you can’t always control when you get your reading list so my next advice may be completely useless if you have a disorganised lecturer, but try as hard as you can to read ahead, only if just a few days before the lecture, it’s so useful. For literature students, there will be modules with a novel a week, take two of those at the same time, and you’ve got The Odyssey and Huckelberry Finn to read within the next three days on top of additional course reading and deadlines too, good luck with that one.

These are just a few ideas, and people’s brains work in entirely different ways! Experiment with your studying, you may find something really creative that works especially well for you. Let’s be real though, we all front like we’re totally on top of things and then around week five we go back to being the terrible, disorganized monsters that we are. Most importantly though, buy cute stationary!

Leaving home: coping with nerves and homesickness

Leaving home is never easy. You may have spent numerous waking hours hoping to get out of the family home and live independently but that doesn’t mean that homesickness or nerves can kick in.

Homesickness is hard to define but probably affects more people than you would think. We love our homes (even when we say we don’t) and to suddenly spend time away from your comforts and the routine that you’re used to can be difficult. In fact it is estimated that nearly half of students at university will suffer from homesickness and nerves.

It is not a sign of weakness. In fact it is hugely natural and is a feeling that will pass in time.

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(c) Alamy

Firstly if you are unsure what your accommodation will be like and that makes your nervous then take a look at the website and the 360 degree room tours: http://www.essex.ac.uk/accommodation/residences/default.aspx

Next, at Essex you are able to get in contact with your future flatmates in advance of moving in day. Once you’ve got your room details you can join the accommodation’s Facebook and announce who you are and where you’re staying and let your new flatmates get in touch and introduce themselves. Follow the website, click on the accommodation then scroll down to the Facebook groups: http://www.essex.ac.uk/accommodation/residences/default.aspx

Make your new room homely. When you move in it will be a blank canvas, so consider bringing or eventually buying things that will make it feel like home to you. Of course make sure you don’t break the rules as to what you can and can’t bring to the university, but certainly try and add a touch of your personality to your room. Remember you may potentially be spending a fair amount of time in your room so make sure it feels comfortable to you.

Additionally:

  • Try talking to others about your concerns- they may be able to offer help and advice.
  • Avoid “over-contacting” home. It may be tempting to contact home but during the first few weeks when homesickness kicks in contacting home can actual make you feel worse, so try not to do it too much at first.
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Sometimes calling home is not the best option when you’re homesick (c) shmoop.com

  • Get a routine- having a new routine can help to quickly banish those nerves and feelings of homesickness.
  • Join a society- in addition to your routine, joining an on campus club or society will put you in the company of other students and is a great way to meet friends as well as taking part in the things you enjoy.

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY: remember it will eventually pass, so don’t let it ruin your experience. It is natural to be nervous of the new and the unknown but soon it will become familiar to you.

Let’s get social: what to do and where to go!

SU Bar

The SU Bar is the Holy Grail of student life here. I feel like, in some way, it is the heart of the uni. There are times where after a lecture or an exam you just need to relax, and the SU Bar is perfect for that. It’s always nice to get a pint after a hard day of work. The comfy couches are definitely a plus! If you need something a bit more lively, you can always go to Milk It and sing karaoke with people – it is literally the most fun ever!

Sub Zero/Base

If you are a dancer or a clubber, you will love Sub Z and Base. The music is always on point and you can dance the night away. There is also an area to sit down and to have a chat, or you can even go outside and get some fresh air after dancing all night. People are very friendly here and it is easy to strike up a conversation and make new friends.

Happy Days/Frango’s/Fusion/Canteen

I literally cannot tell you how many times I have made new friends just while waiting for my food! I think I get most talkative when I am hungry and I think this is proven by the fact that I met 2 of my closest friends while waiting for food in Happy Days 😀 It was a match made in heaven (heaven = Happy Days)!

Squares

The squares are literally always buzzing with life – day and night. During the day you might join an African bongo band and play away, or at night you might join a group of people and enjoy the night with them – university makes it strangely easy to interact with people. There were numerous times when I had no plan for the night, I went to the store to get something and I ended up sitting in Square 3 with a group of people that are still, to this day, my friends!

How to Make Friends Before You Even Get to Uni

A lot of people worry about making friends at uni. Most of the time you’re moving away to a place where you know nobody and you’ll be living with people you’ve never even met before. This can seem quite scary, but there are ways to meet and chat to people before you even get to uni.

People from your sixth form

When I put Essex as my firm choice on UCAS no one else at my sixth form I knew had put it as a choice. I asked around to see if anyone I knew, knew someone that had. Eventually I found out that someone in my history class had also applied to Essex! Previously I had never even spoken to this person, but we had a chat about all things uni and Essex and now when I run into them on campus, I always make sure I say hi! It might seem like a bit of a cop out to make friends going to your uni at your sixth form, but it’s nice to know someone in a similar situation to you and of course, there are the other ways to make friends too.

The Student Room

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If you have never heard of The Student Room, it can be an extremely helpful website for all things, well, student! The University of Essex has its own forum page here. Loads of people will be posting the unis that they’re going to and asking people what courses they’re doing. The Essex forum page has threads with people asking who else will be on their course or if they’re living in the same accommodation. It’s a great place to find lots of other people going to Essex, doing your course, or living near you. It’s also very helpful for info about the social life at Essex, and things like what to bring to uni. Whilst you don’t need an account to read the forums, you do if you want to contribute to the chat.

Facebook

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The University of Essex is all over Facebook! There is the general freshers’ page which is run by the Students’ Union, there’s individual pages for each accommodation and there’s departmental pages too. The freshers page has thousands of members as most new students, as well as existing students will join it. It’s a great place to ask general questions about life at Essex, especially as you know you’ll be answered by students who have been in your position. It’s also great for meeting students who might be commuters, mature students or postgraduates.

Open days and Visit days

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When you come to our Essex open days, it’s not only useful to learn about the basics of uni life, it’s also a great opportunity to get to know some other potential students. Strike up a conversation on a tour – you might just end up going to uni with that person! Applicant days, once you have an offer from Essex, are also an excellent way to meet people who are on your course. Your future lecturers will also be giving taster sessions which will give you a chance to get a real feel for the academic side of university.

With all these ways to make friends before uni, keep in my mind that you’ll still meet plenty more people once you actually move in and start lectures, so go forth and make friends!

A letter to EU and International students: leaving home and arriving in Colchester

Dear EU and International students,

I am sure you are very excited to join our international family of students and staff, but there may also be some nerves kicking in at the thought of leaving your home and the country you have grown up in. It wasn’t long ago that I was getting ready to leave my home to start University here. I remember I was so scared – all the way from applying for the course to taking the bus to the University in October was terrifying. But when I actually arrived and saw all the freshers and all the people that greeted us and helped us, I felt so relieved. It may sound strange to you, but seeing all those people, all the nationalities and cultures, and all the chaos that goes along with the first day, I just felt this sense of belonging because I knew that everyone felt that the same way as I did; the university was here to help us in any way they could, so that we all felt as at home here as possible. In just the first week, we had like three international student socials! It was held in The Hex and you could meet fellow students from all over the world.

During Welcome Week, there are loads of events put on, everything from disco nights and introductory lectures to people putting stalls up in the squares to get to know the freshers.

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But the most famous of all events during Welcome Week is the Fresher’s Fair. It is THE event of the week. You go to the squares, or should I say squeeze yourself to the fresher’s fair, because there are so many people it’s unbelievable. Across the 5 squares, you will see nothing else than stalls everywhere and just loads…like LOADS of people. Each stall represents a different organisation, society or sports club. That includes stalls from, for example, the Red Cross, the Rugby Team all the way to the Romanian Society. Meaning if by any chance you are struggling to find friends, just join a society, team or organisation and there you go! 20 to 50 instant friends! Also, if you are not into any sport or activity society, you can join societies of your own nationality! And if by any chance (a very small chance I might add) there is not a society for yours, you can always create one.

If you have doubts even after all I have told you, don’t worry. I have the ultimate ace up my sleeve…we are the 15th most international university in the WORLD. Not even in England, in the whole wide WORLD!

Lastly and most importantly, please remember that if you feel anxious or even scared, there are thousands of people feeling just like you and they are heading to Essex just like you. We are here for you and ready to help you in any way, shape or form. We are all one family.

Yours truly,

Dragos

My 6 Top Places to Visit in Essex

Hello! I am originally from Chelmsford in Essex and decided to study in Colchester. This blog is going to tell you some of my favourite things to do around Essex, so you can take a break from revision, get out of Colchester and explore! I am going to include maps so you can see roughly how long it takes to get to the places from uni and also hyperlinks so you can easily access the webpages for more information on things to do, prices and times. I am going to start with my home town, Chelmsford.

  • Chelmsford

Chelmsford’s town centre is a bit bigger than Colchester, with two small shopping centres and a brand new shopping complex with John Lewis, many new restaurants and also an Everyman cinema (which has sofas, a bar and you can order food while you watch a movie). I enjoy Chelmsford for shopping and also eating out because there are lots of options.

There is also Hylands Park, which is home to V Festival that takes place every August. It is a weekend festival and I would really recommend going if you have the chance! Apart from the festival they hold regular events and also have a cafe, where you can grab lunch or an ice cream. It’s a nice place to have a picnic and chill on a hot day! Oaklands Park is another nice area to relax in and there is also a Museum, which is free to enter. They hold events occasionally, such as a Photographic Exhibition, Coins and Tokens, Social History and 1950s Fashion: A Decade of Glamour.

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  • Southend-On-Sea

Southend-On-Sea is around 1 hours drive away, or 2 hours by public transport. There is a seven mile coastline and places to get ice cream and a traditional fish and chips, a proper British experience! There is also a theme park called Adventure Island. It is not as big as other theme parks in England, however it is still a fun day out! Southend also has sea life centre close to the beach and it is home to the longest pier in the world, so it’s worth a visit!

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  • Frinton-On-Sea

This is probably my favourite beach in Essex. It has the best sand and a nice atmosphere with beach huts along the back. It is a great place to play games on the beach and has been awarded for its cleanliness, which is always a plus! There is also a grass area behind the beach that overlooks the sea, a great place for a picnic or a ball game.

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  • Dedham

Dedham is situated in the countryside and has an old traditional high street with an Arts and Craft Centre and wooden beam houses. There is an impressive 15th century Church in the middle of the village. Boats can be hired to explore the Stour River and many walks can be taken to venture into the countryside. There are restaurants to visit, which can be luxury, a traditional pub or a nice tea room. Wine tasting is also available at Dedham Vale Vineyard.

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  • Brentwood

This is the most well-known place for The Only Way is Essex TV show (TOWIE). However, you won’t walk around the streets seeing the cast! There is a main high street for shopping, but there are also activities to do just outside of the town centre. They have dry ski slopes where you can have lessons, or if you already know how to ski or snowboard then you can go to have fun. If you don’t want to face skiing or snowboarding, then they also have tubing, this is where you go down the slopes in a rubber ring, a lot of fun!  On the same complex there is also Go-Karting and a great Chinese buffet restaurant called Izumi.

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  • Saffron Walden

If you’re looking for something a bit more cultural then the English Heritage site Audley End House and Gardens might be something you enjoy. It costs £12.10 for a concession ticket or £13.40 for an adult. It is a mansion house with gardens, a stable and place to get food and drink is also available. They also hold events, so keep an eye on their website for any events coming up!

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I hope this gives you some ideas of what to do around Essex. If you don’t have a car then check out Trainline and National Express for ways to get around 🙂

Best places to study on campus

Ah yes, the student life. Studying day and night. And since you can’t be locked up in your room all the time, you need a good place to study!

Of course, there is the Library, where you might spend most of your time. I sure do – all day, every day. Don’t get me wrong, our library is great – 5 floors of pure goodness + undergraduate and postgraduate reading rooms; but it does get boring and repetitive sometimes. So here are a few alternative places where you might enjoy studying instead

Student Centre

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Our new Student Centre is amazing. Truly. It is open 24/7 and there for the taking. That means that you can go there at 4 am like it’s no big deal (not that you would…).

On the ground floor, it’s full of computers and study pods with projectors, where you might enjoy studying with friends. The pods are also separated by plastic walls you can draw on! How cool is that?! On the second floor there are loads of computers, but also individual study spaces for you to use and enjoy. If you do not like sitting at a desk, don’t worry; there are a bunch of sofas there as well for us lazy ones.

Zest/Orangery

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Located on Square 3, Zest is a vibrant and stylish café and is a great place to visit during the day with your friends. They offer breakfast, cakes, Costa coffee (the best), tea and loads of other drinks ranging from presses to bottled drinks.

Adjoining Zest is the very-helpful Orangery, which features study pods just like in the Student Centre. What is different about these pods, though, is the fact that you can enjoy all the beverages and food that you buy at Zest, right in your pod! So if you fancy a coffee or tea, want to study but you’re not really feeling the SC or the Library – pop in here and enjoy the café vibes while you study. You won’t regret it!

North Teaching Centre

Our new North Teaching Centre is located right in between the North Towers, therefore it is very easily accessible by people who live in the North Towers or Houses. There are a bunch of classrooms there and while you might not be able to access them while there is a lecture, you can always be in the hallway. Yep. You read that right. Right as you go up the stairs, on whichever floor, there are big tables next to the wall with screens mounted on the wall so you may use them as you wish. They are great for a group study session or if you just need more space for your materials. And as I mentioned, they are located right in BETWEEN North Towers, so if you are going to live there next year, you can just pop down there in your pyjamas and study (we don’t judge).

Squares

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Ah yes, the ever-so-busy squares. There have been multiple times where I have seen people sitting on the benches on Square 3, or sitting on the ex-fountain-garden top on Square 4 and studied, especially when it’s very sunny outside. Truth to be told, I would not be able to study there since it very busy and I can’t even hear a fly when I am studying, but hey – different strokes for different folks, as they say.

SU Bar

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Our beloved SU Bar is always full on action. Whether it’s a lazy Saturday morning and they have live music sessions, or if it is a wild karaoke night, you can always count on the SU Bar. Some people, after they are done with their classes, go to the Bar, get a coffee and work on their writing while watching a football match on TV or something of that sort. I have to say, it is quite calming to know that coffee is literally five steps away from where you work.

Now that I have mentioned just a few places to study at our University, I hope all of you will be motivated to work even more and make your uni family proud! Now go and get those firsts!

Getting Uni Ready

Getting ready to move out of home and into uni can be pretty daunting. I know for me moving out of the home I’d lived in for 18 years was pretty scary. I had never really cooked anything and left all the washing up to my mum. I pretty much had no idea how to fend for myself, but despite this I adapted really quickly to my new environment – though that’s not to say I ever became a Gordon Ramsay level chef (pasta was my speciality)! So to save you the pain of scrubbing burnt rice off the bottom of a pan, or accidentally dying your white clothes grey in the wash, here are  a few things you can do to help with the transition to uni before you even get there!

Learn to cook a few recipes

As easy as it is, you can’t live off chips and chicken nuggets forever (sadly). Making your own meals can be really satisfying; I felt quite proud of myself the first time I successfully made a roast dinner! Before you go to uni, it can be quite helpful to learn some cheap recipes and there’s loads of student cookbooks out there to help. My favourite meals to make have to be spaghetti bolognese and cottage pie. They can be pretty easy to make and if you cook them in bulk too then you can portion them out to save time and money later on. You might have a few mishaps on the way to becoming a culinary master, I dropped my delicious looking cottage pie on the floor the first time I made it, but don’t let that put you off from cooking from scratch! Take a look here for some recipe inspiration!

spaghetti-bolognese Easy and delicious

Think about budgeting

Odds are that if you’ve lived with your family all your life you’ve never really had to budget. It does seem quite nice at the beginning of term to have that student loan money appear in your bank account and often it can be hard to resist the temptation to treat yourself to those new shoes or clothes you wanted. By all means, treat yourself, but budget responsibly to make sure you have enough money for the essentials. There are a lot of expenses to think about such as your rent, food shopping, and let’s be realistic, the inevitable nights out. It can initially be quite difficult to balance the essential expenses with the things that you want. After a few food shops though, you’ll probably end up realising the things that you are spending on that you don’t really need. I couldn’t believe how expensive some foods were that I always just taken for granted (I’m looking at you, cheese!)

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Read clothes labels!

This one might seem a bit trivial but clothes labels are there for a reason. If you don’t wash your own clothes at home then you’re probably not familiar with what those weird little symbols mean. There were quite a few times in my first year that my flatmates would come back from the launderette with shrunken jeans and pink tops that used to be white. These mishaps can usually be avoided if you know how to wash your clothes. Take note of the  picture below. After shrinking some of my favourite clothes, I found out where I was going wrong!

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These tips aren’t the be all and end all of what you need to know for uni. You will find yourself learning from experience and work out what’s best to do once you get there, but hopefully this blog will just help you on your way! Good luck 🙂