Living away from home and embracing student life

Photograph by: Marianne Martin

You may have been desperate for a taste of independent life. But once you’ve moved away from home and into student halls, you may find yourself longing for that old safety net. This is especially true if your kitchen finesse revolves around the Holy Student Trinity: pasta, pizza, and Pot Noodles. Your evenings will be full of freshers’ week events and your days will be filled with hangovers and sleeping. But don’t forget why you came here: your education! Learn to balance it all and make a success of student life with our handy survival guide from Lookers, the retailers of Ford Motability Cars.

Learning the laundry

No one’s going to notice if you’re wearing odd socks to dodge doing the laundry, but if you wear the same shirt for a week, people will notice and complain. 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.

Cooking the basics

They’re easy to cook, but pizza, pasta, and Pot Noodles aren’t going to fuel your seminars. 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. Why not experiment and grow your own veg? A packet of mince, a tin of chopped tomatoes, a few different vegetables, and some spaghetti can be bought for £3 which provides 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?

Physical exercise

Most UK universities offer some sort of gym service. 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. Weight gain usually has been found to have links to drinking, stress and an unhealthy diet. Alongside indoor gym facilities, university sports teams offer a great way of maintaining a level of fitness. The wide range of clubs means you’re almost guaranteed to find something you like. It’s not just football, hockey, and rugby anymore!

Travel tips

You may not be living directly near the campus, which can make travel tricky. 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. The Renault Clio has established itself as a fan favourite amongst the student population, thanks to its low insurance costs and its positive relationship with parking.

Putting yourself out there

Getting involved in university life is key to getting the most out of it. 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. Obviously if you aren’t enjoying yourself then don’t hide it, and certainly speak to someone. Again, universities provide free counselling for students, but don’t give up until you’ve given it your best shot — nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Keeping your finances in check

Money is a massive worry for many students. Perhaps the hardest thing about the whole experience is budgeting. 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.

You’ll find that time flies when you’re at university. Make the most of it and by following our simple plan you might be able to make things a whole lot easier.

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