You may feel a big part of university is joining societies. Some people will know exactly what they want to pursue in terms of extra-curricular; maybe you’ve done an activity your whole life or there’s something you’ve always wanted to try. However, like me you may feel overwhelmed by there being so much choice but not knowing where you fit. Trust me if you’re unsure you’ll be able to find something; try things out, if it doesn’t work move on to the next thing.
Honestly, I went to try out hockey in my first year and it was not for me at all, everyone else had so much more experience. But after that I decided not to try anything else because it really put me off. Looking back, I would definitely advise not to let these experiences hold you back and just try something else. Since trying again, I have found some great societies to be part of, I am now part of my student newspaper and party of the University Tango Society. I absolutely love them both and now I’ve joined them I’m glad I did. Don’t get me wrong I don’t regret not joining them earlier, I went at my own pace and really started getting involved in second year. That may sound contradictory to me saying not to be put off, but I think it works differently for different people. I think if you really want to find something to be part of definitely keep looking as you will find a place where you belong but if you feel that you are overwhelmed and have other things to focus on when you first arrive that’s okay. Go at your own pace and do what feels right for you.
There are so many different types of society and most universities will have a societies fair and trial sessions in the first few weeks of university. From these you can go and see what will work for you, perfect for if you have no idea or are not ready to make a commitment.
Me and my friends had a great time in Paris last summer and it is full of tourist attractions you will want to visit. I’ve talked through the ones that stuck with me to help you plan what you can do if you visit. While it’s not the cheapest city, it’s still possible to visit on a budget!
The Eiffel Tower : an obvious one but definitely worth it. We could see it from the apartment we stayed in making it feel a very Parisian experience. I would recommend seeing it in the day and at night. In the evening we would head down with our strawberries, chocolate and pink gin and sit on the grass in front of the tower and watch it light up. I would also recommend going up it for some amazing views and to have the full experience. It wasn’t as expensive as I thought with adult prices starting at 10,40€. We chose to climb the stairs which was an experience in its self and honestly not that tiring and there’s plenty of places to sit down when you reach the top. Though, you can pay a bit extra to go up in the lift if climbing 704 steps to the second floor really isn’t for you.
Arc de Triomphe: it may seem just like a big arch but seeing it in real life was extremely impressive and it’s a lot bigger than I expected it to be. Also, I finally found out how to get over to the island without risking your life by crossing through the traffic. There is a tunnel that goes underground which brings you out onto the island and it’s just stunning.
The art galleries and museums: I’ve been the the Musée d’Orsay which was just beautiful. Even without looking at the art the building in itself is breathtaking. It used to be a train station and there are these huge clocks at each end. I would definitely recommend going and having a look, you may even qualify for free entry otherwise it’s only 11€. We also went to look at the glass pyramids of the Louvre but the queues were so big we just didn’t have time to go in but it was a great photo opportunity. Again with this you may qualify for free admission otherwise it’s only 15€. Instead we went to the Pompidou centre which housed modern and contemporary art which was interesting. I liked the fact the escalators were in see through tubes on the front of the building giving amazing views as you ascended. This was also the perfect place for views of the city with the Eiffel Tower in (which you obviously can’t see when you’re in the tower itself) on the outside viewing decks. This one is 14€ but check out if you qualify for free admission before you go.
Mont Matre– this was such a lovely walk as we went through the small streets until we arrived at the summit where we found the sacre couer. On the way up we also saw the Moulin Rouge which was exciting for me as it’s my favourite film. I would recommend going here not just for the main attractions but because there is so much to see as you walk up and down the hill; little cafes and independent shops you can stop off in.
Champs Élysées – I would only do this if you’ve done everything else you wanted to do or if you’re extremely into your shopping. While it was one of those things I felt you should see while in Paris it was very overcrowded and full of shops you could find elsewhere that wouldn’t be so packed.
Just explore: yes, I got us lost at one point but it meant we were able to explore the small side streets of Paris which were gorgeous.
This is probably my favourite thing about moving into my university house. I love decorating my bedroom and making it feel more like home. This post is going to be one where I will make suggestions of what you might want to take to make your room extra comfortable but I will start off with the essentials.
Bedding: first things first you’ll be sleeping in your bedroom and so obviously you’ll need bedding. The first thing you need to do is find out what size bed your room will have, so that you know what size bedding to purchase. Once this is sorted you’ll want a duvet, pillows and bed linen. I took two pillows for my single bed in first year and four for my double bed in second so it’s just working out what you need to be comfy. Remember you’ll be sleeping here every night so you want to have that added comfort. I personally had two sets of linen (duvet cover, pillow cases and sheet) so that I had a spare one for when one was in the wash and so that I could change it up a bit. I’d say you could get away with only having one of you plan to keep on top of your washing and dry it in the tumble dryer. I also had cushions and a blanket for extra comfort and to make everything look a bit nicer. Obviously these aren’t essential but they can add something to your room if that’s what you like.
Find out what is provided: there are things you will need that may be provided by your halls so check out whether these things come with it. I would definitely recommend a lamp for either your bedside table or your desk as you may want light without having to use the big light. I would also recommend you take a extension lead. Not only do they mean you can plug things in when there are no plugs nearby, they will increase the plug sockets you have which may otherwise be limited. It’s also a good idea to take storage boxes, I used these for under my bed so that I had more space to keep things I needed but weren’t in daily use. I took a full length mirror as well which was really good to have, it went over a door so I hung it off my wardrobe. If this is something you’d need you might want to look whether that is provided as I had one in the house for second year but had to take my own in first year.
Clothes: you may have limited wardrobe space (I know I did) so I’d recommend you don’t take all your clothes with you. I just took the season appropriate clothes then swapped them over in the holidays as the weather changed.
Decorations: though this is not an essential this will definitely make you feel more at home if you have reminders at university. I loved having photos up and lot of lights to make it feel more cosy. When doing this, do be careful that you keep in line with the policy of your accommodation as they may fine you for sticker or blue tack marks. I used command strips which claim they don’t leave a mark but some of them didn’t work as well and pulled some of the paint off. Though I didn’t receive a fine or anything for this it’s whether you want to take that risk.
That’s all for the bedroom but look out for my next post in this series where I’ll talk about stationary bits I recommend.
Welcome to the next instalment of my university part-time jobs series. This week, I’ll be talking about tutoring. Though I haven’t tried this personally it sounds like a great idea and so I’ve researched this to help you make the best decision for you. This would be a great job for someone who wants to go into a career with children or in mentoring or some kind of teaching. You can teach younger students in a subject that you are passionate and watch them learn and become more confident.
How do I find a job? There are two main paths to get into this job; privately or through an agency. It might be a better idea if you are just starting out to go through an agency to help you build a clientele and get some good reviews under your belt. However, these agencies will usually take a percentage of your earnings for their services. The other option, where you would be working more on your own terms, would be to go privately. This would be perfect for you, if you have good reviews and references you can show potential clients, so they feel secure in you as their choice. You should also thing about whether you would want to do this in person or virtually.
Positives of working as a tutor: As with most jobs that I’ve suggested in this series you can choose your own hours, also depending on the clients they may be happy to reschedule if you need to. The pay will usually be better than working in other industries like hospitality and retail meaning you can work less hours while still bringing in a decent amount of money. Of course, it depends on your level of expertise and experience how much you will be earning but that allows for you to grow in the industry. You can teach almost anything, some things you may need extra qualifications to teach, but if you are really passionate about music or a particular subject you can teach others your favourite subject. You also get that sense of fulfilment from watching your students grow and succeed.
Negatives of working as a tutor: The working hours will have to be around the children you are teaching meaning, you will most likely be working evening and weekends. However, considering they will have to be up in the morning for school, you most likely won’t be doing late nights so you can still enjoy the night life of university without worrying. It can also be a difficult industry to start out in as parents will want to see references and you won’t be able to provide them until you’ve had some experience. So, navigating that can make it hard to get started. Being self-employed will mean you have to do the relevant admin for taxes and other official bits which can be time consuming.
Packing up and moving into your university flat is a huge task so you don’t want to be taking more than you need. You really don’t need to take everything but the kitchen sink as you really won’t use everything. These are of course just my recommendations and there may be things you won’t need and there may even be things that I don’t mention that you may feel for you is an essential. I will do a separate post on the kitchen, bedroom, stationary and miscellaneous, just to keep the posts short and easy to read. This week will be the kitchen so look out for the others in the coming weeks.
Crockery: I would recommend you only take two of each, you really won’t need a family set of 4 or 5 of each item as you won’t use them. Even if you have guests, you can always borrow from others. Remember you will have limited shelf space and so you really need to take as little as possible. I personally think two is the perfect amount as things are likely to get broken and you will want a spare, I know I definitely broke a lot of crockery. Also, if you really need to you can always buy replacements while you’re there so keep that in mind. I took bowls, dinner plates, side plates, mugs, glasses and pasta dishes and found that was all I really needed.
Pots and pans: I would take a few of these if I were you, at least two pots (including one with a lid) and a frying pan but of course it depends on your cooking habits. This would be a minimum for if you do a general amount of cooking. These are very bulky and so will take up a lot of the space in your cupboards so be sensible with this and only take what you know you’re going to use. Think about how many pans you use at a time when you cook at home and use that as an estimate.
Food preparation: You’ll also need bits for preparing food. I had two chopping boards to avoid cross contamination, so I basically have a meat one and a non-meat one. You may feel you need more or if you don’t use meat you may just be happy with one. These are often easy to store so you don’t really need to worry about having too many. You may also want to take food storage boxes or freezer bags for if you plan to make food in advance and then freeze it for later but be sensible I had boxes of every size and didn’t even use most of them, they just got in the way.
For the oven: When it comes to baking trays, they won’t take up a lot of room and again I’d recommend two, just for if you have to put things in the oven at different times or you don’t want food mixing on the trays. I did also have a pizza tray and while I could have gotten by without one it was useful and easy to store. You may also want tin foil to protect the trays or to put over food, so I’d recommend just taking a roll of this in case.
Cutlery: This will go missing I can assure you. I lost so much of my cutlery in first year, so I’d definitely recommend against buying just stainless-steel cutlery. It looked exactly the same as everyone else’s and so I never knew what was mine. I ended up buying red handled cutlery and this meant I knew exactly which was mine because of the red handles. I took about six of each; knives, forks, spoons and teaspoons because it meant I had plenty for if they went missing. I also recommend taking good knives for preparing food; I had a big knife, small knife and bread knife. This worked well and was perfectly enough. Also, there will be extra bits you might forget which you never know when you will need; spatula, fish slice, potato masher, potato peeler, ladle, cooking spoon, scissors and a strainer.
Baking bits: If you’re into baking then I would recommend taking these but if you barley bake at home the likelihood is that you won’t really use these at university. I didn’t take any of these things and if I really wanted to bake something, I just borrowed from someone else as this was just on the rare occasion. Now that I’ve got more into baking, I may purchase some bits for third year but as with everything else on this list, be sensible and only take what you will actually use.
As I said last week with my hospitality post, I’m making a little series of jobs you can do part-time at university to get a bit of extra cash. Of course, I only have experience in hospitality, but I have looked into these other jobs so that I can give you a range of options. This week I have decided to talk about working in retail. Like hospitality this is a customer service job, but it is obviously going to be different in some ways. For this you will be working in a shop; maybe re-stocking the floor, helping out customers or working on the tills. It’s a great job for you if you are a people person and want to engage with people constantly while you’re at work.
How do I find a job? With retail it probably best to look outside of the university. I know my university does have a few on-campus shops which people can apply to, but this is limited. There is also a co-op on our campus that employs students so maybe look into privately owned shops close by. You can of course also apply to jobs in the local area, most of these you will be able to apply for online if they have vacancies or their websites will give information of how to apply but it won’t hurt to see if they’ll accept your CV in person, especially if it is an independent shop.
Positives of working in the industry: The big positive of working in retail for students is the flexibility, whether it is set shifts or different shift patterns each week they will usually be able to accommodate you around your studies. This means you can have your university life and work life separate and won’t have to worry about them clashing. This is also the type of job that will keep you on your feet and while some people may see that as a negative it’s a nice change from studying. I find while at university a lot of it is sitting down; in lectures, when revising and when preparing for seminars. Having a job that requires you to keep moving helps towards having an active lifestyle. There are so many retail opportunities up and down the country meaning that wherever you are at university there should be plenty of places for you to apply to. Lastly, the one a lot of people would consider the best perk is that most retail places will offer a staff discount as an incentive to work there, so if you’re looking for a job it’s something you might as well take advantage of.
Negatives of working in the industry: You’ve probably heard many negatives when it comes to retail and a big one people talk about is difficult customers. As annoying as it is this is something you will need to prepare yourself for and if this is something you want to avoid it might be best to look for a job in a different industry. It can be inconvenient hours; if you’re hoping for a break at weekends this may not be possible if you’re working in retail as this is going to be when they are busy, and they will need staff. The work can become very monotonous after a while; there are very limited tasks you will be able to do, and you will find yourself doing things over and over again with very little change. As with hospitality, there will be many people going to university looking for jobs and many of them will have experience. It can be a difficult industry to get into without that experience and so may take some work to find a job.
So, you’ve booked your holiday, or you need to make sure you have the budget to even go on holiday. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of budgeting for the preparation, the flights and hotel, but forget that you’ll actually have to have a good chunk saved for when you get there. The best way to do this is figure out an approximation of how much you plan to spend while your there and then take just a bit extra for emergencies or if you end up spending a bit more than planned.
Food: Probably the most important thing to think about. If you’re going all inclusive you may not need to worry about this as much because it will be included in the price you paid for the hotel. If you are self-catered, you need to budget for the amount of food you’ll have while you’re there. As I recommended in my previous travel post it’s a good idea to choose accommodation with a kitchen so you can easily do a shop at the supermarket but remember food may be priced a bit differently abroad to how it would be in an English supermarket. I usually like to have a meal out on one of the days to try the country’s cuisine as a little treat so this is something you should definitely budget for if you plan to do.
Transport: Think to yourself how you are going to get around while you’re there. You will have booked your flights and hopefully an airport transfer but as you explore the city you’re going to have to get around. Most cities have great transport links so check out the metro and bus system as these are usually the cheapest option. This is something you’ll want to make sure you have the money for but shouldn’t burn a huge hole in your pocket especially if you plan your trip so that you’re doing things in a similar area each day.
Attractions: I would recommend planning what attractions you want to visit and what you want to see before you go even without thinking about budgeting. This will ensure you have time to actually do what you want to do and so you don’t spend all your time while you’re actually there working out what you want to do. From this you can do a bit of research to work out how much things will cost, and you may have to book some attractions in advance to make sure you get to visit. Dependant on what you’re planning to do, this could be what you spend most of this budget on, especially if you’re on a city break This is something, however, you don’t want to compromise on as while you’re there you’ll want to make the most of it.
Going out: whether you’re planning a meal or a big night out this is something to budget for. Some cities have an incredible nightlife, and this is something you won’t want to miss out on. Especially, if you’re planning to go and get drunk this will be something to bear in mind as alcohol is often not cheap and you don’t want to blow your whole budget in one night!
Souvenirs: you may want to pick up a couple of bits while you’re there to remember your trip. Personally, I collect a mug from every country I visit as a little memento.
Emergency fund: You never know when you might need a bit of extra cash and you don’t want to be caught short in a foreign country. My best bit of advice is to put aside some money that you can use in an emergency; you may have forgotten to budget something, things may be a bit more expensive than planned or you may want to treat yourself while you’re there. It’s always best to be on the safe side.
I hope these tips help you out. If you missed my blog post on how to budget in preparation of the holiday go check that out! In the next few weeks I’ll be posting about my favourite get aways for budget travel so keep an eye out for that.
If you’ve decided to get a part-time job whilst at university it can be a difficult to work out what industry will best suit you. There are so many factors to consider when deciding what path to take; you should take into account experience, how it will work around your course and what works best for your personality. I’ve decided to make this a weekly feature looking at the pros and cons of different jobs you can have part-time whilst getting on with your studies. As I have worked in the hospitality industry on and off for three years now, I felt that was the best one to start with.
How do I find a job? There are so many ways to go about finding a job in hospitality. Most universities will have on-campus bars and restaurants which they will hire students to work at and there are also off-campus places that you can apply to. I worked at a restaurant in the town centre, luckily, they were understanding that I was a student and I would need to put my studies first and that I’d want to go home for the holidays. If you are worried about this, it may be best to get a job on-campus as they may be more understanding that you are a student however I wouldn’t rule out branching out so as to have more options. There are many ways to go about finding a job in this industry; you can try take your CV straight into the establishment and ask if they have any jobs available, but they also usually advertise online whether on their own website or job site like Indeed.
Positives of working in hospitality: I found the perks of working in this industry attracted me to a job like this. As well as a set wage, you can earn tips which are always useful for an extra night out or when you are running a bit short on cash. They are usually flexible jobs which can be useful when you’re trying to work around studying and socialising. Whereas with jobs with set shift patterns to take a day off you would usually have to find cover, with jobs where the shifts change each week you can often ask for specific days off. Also, not having set shifts will mean they’ll probably be more inclined to give you time off to visit home or if you have big deadlines coming up. I also enjoy the social aspect of this type of work, you’ve got colleagues around you and you’re always engaging with members of the public which I found increased my confidence. With this there is always that sense of something different every shift and so it doesn’t get repetitive. My jobs also gave me free staff food which is always a plus.
Negatives of working in hospitality: As with all jobs there are negative of the industry. The flexibility of shifts can mean some weeks you have loads and some you’ll barley have any, I’ve had issues with both and have had to ask for my hours to be cut to the amount we agreed upon. Also, with working in bars and restaurants you’ll usually be working times when these are busy meaning evenings and weekends and while this is useful to fit around your university lectures it may mean you have to miss out on nights out or weekend activities, if you’re working. Because I had experience in the industry before going to university it was easier for me to find a job however I know friends with no experience who then found it difficult to find something when they arrived as they are popular jobs for students and so those who have that edge with their experience will find it easier to get a job. This means if you don’t have prior experience you may have to persevere, and it may take longer to find something so keep that in mind when applying.
Of course, all jobs you have while you are at university will have positives and negatives so you really need to weigh up what will work best for your situation. Hospitality can be a really good job when at university but if any of the negatives are deal breakers for you when it comes to a job it may be worth looking at something else that better suits your needs.
If you’d have asked me this question two years ago, I’d have to have said I don’t. That however was not healthy for my bank account or my mental health, being in my overdraft and seeing the money in my savings go down would make me worry about how I’d deal with this in the future. Luckily, I started to do a proper budget and learnt how to stick with it. The most important things to look at is what you have coming in whether that is your student loan, wages from a job or both. Once you have worked out how much you have to spend decide whether you will budget per week or per month, personally I do per week so I don’t spend my months budget straight away and anything I don’t spend in that week I can roll over to the next. Once all this is done, follow these tips to properly budget!
Rent and housing bills: paying rent and bills and paying them on time are the most important things when it comes to money. When money comes in put aside the money or pay your rent straight away. As students your loan will come in three chunks, one per term, and so if your rent and bills are being paid once a month it can be easy to see the money in your account and think you can spend it. Personally, I put it in a separate account so that I don’t feel inclined to spend it and it’s there for me when I need it. Once this is out of the way you can work out how much you have left per month. Of course, when it comes to student loans some people’s will cover a lot less than others so you may need to get a part-time job or get financial assistance from parents to make ends meet. It’s also important to note how much you can afford to spend on your accommodation, especially when it comes to uni halls as the prices can differ greatly. Deciding whether it is worth sacrificing other things for an en-suite bathroom when you could save money with a shared bathroom is something you’ll have to think about. Also, in halls you are usually lucky enough that the bills are included and so you won’t need to worry about this separately, it will all be one payment of rent and bills.
Foodand other shopping necessities: food of course is the next big thing, when it comes to food there are many options to decide from which will impact how much you should budget for this. Personally, I don’t spend too much on my weekly shop as I go to a budget supermarket but then I also tend to get a takeaway or go out for a meal once or twice a month which I will factor into my food budget. The more high-end you go with your food and the more you buy the higher you should budget for this. The best thing to do when it comes to food is work out what you plan to eat in the week and make a shopping list that way you only buy what you need and save money and food by not buying what you will eventually throw away. I find when I shop without a list, I just grab what I fancy even if I won’t get chance to eat it before the use by date. Also, remember when you go to a supermarket you are not just buying food, factor in money for toiletries, cleaning products, stationary and the like. This is especially important if you are catered, while you food may be included in rent, there will be other bits you need to pick up at the supermarket that you should include in your budget.
Hobbies: A big part of university is getting involved with student life; whether that is joining a society, playing for a sports team or going on nights out. The reason I put this high up on the list is for a lot of these things I did not realise how expensive were until I got to uni. With sports teams and societies, you usually have to pay upfront at the start of the year which may feel like a big chunk going out of your pocket which is why I’d recommend a separate fresher’s budget. Your first week or two at uni will most likely be your most expensive and so budgeting a lot more for this is wise. It’s also important to remember that these organisations will have things going on throughout the year whether that’s matches, formals or socials, if this is something you want to be a part of this should be added to your budget. You don’t want to miss out on going out with your teammates or fellow society members because you can’t afford it. The same goes for nights out, if you know that you want to go out multiple times a week you need to budget this so that you don’t suddenly find yourself in your overdraft.
Treating yourself: as much as I’d love to tell you to treat yourself as much as you feel like it, this is not easy when on a budget. I found the best way to do this is to set yourself goals, if I can save this much money by this date I will go shopping. This could also work by saying, if in say three weeks it’s still on my mind I’ll treat myself. An example of this was when I wanted to splurge on a matching gym set so I told myself if I go to the gym at least three times a week for the next month I’ll treat myself. Not only did this make me feel like I deserved to treat myself, but it also gave me the peace of mind that I was investing in something I’d actually get use out of.
Savings and emergency fund: As I said before I chose to budget each week and what I don’t spend rolls over to the next week. However, at the end of each month, I will move whatever money I don’t spend into savings or an emergency fund so that I have money for the future or for an emergency.
Just remember learning to budget can take time and you won’t change your spending habits overnight. Once you start saving money, the joy that you’ll feel in having money saved will far exceed the short-term gratification of receiving a haul of clothes you probably won’t wear in a month’s time. I will add though, remember you’re going to university to enjoy yourself (and to study of course) so find what works best when it comes to spending. You don’t want to miss out on everything because you want to save all your money but then you may struggle later on if you blow all your money at once. Balance is key!
Synopsis: We Need To TalkAbout Kevin by Lionel Shriver is a series of letters written by Eva to her husband Franklin about their son Kevin. She writes about her visits to see Kevin in prison after he murdered fellow students, a teacher and a cafeteria worker in the gym of their school. The reader is given an insight into Eva’s mind with the story of Kevin’s upbringing and the time leading up to this event being told through her eyes.
My thoughts: I’ll warn you this is not the book for you if you are looking for a quick read. It took me a lot longer than a book of its length would normally take and it was a difficult book to get into. I decided to persevere as I had heard many good reviews and I am glad I did because it turned out to be a very interesting and thought-inducing read. Normally, when I read a book I feel disinclined to carry on reading when I find the characters to be unlikable and Eva is definitely that however the story made me want to read on. Having Eva presented this way as selfish and pessimistic works for the story, it creates questions for the reader as to the effects this had upon Kevin and makes us question whether her accounts of Kevin’s actions and the intentions behind them are bias because of her outlook. Kevin is an interesting character too, there is a sense of frustration that we are never able to see inside his head except what he has told Eva which wills the reader to continue reading in hopes that their questions will be answered. I was also impressed by the twist towards the end it was not something that I had personally guessed which I always find pleasing in a book as it gives a sudden change to the tone of the novel. The book itself is very well written, using articulate and intricate language. I would have to read another of Shriver’s books to see whether this is her writing style or whether this was the voice she chose to give to Eva. The voice does work well; Eva herself is a travel writer and very passionate about it so it would make sense for her writing style to be this way. Not only this but she is an arrogant character and so such a tone makes it seem like she is intending to show off how educated she is. The only downside to this is that it made it difficult to understand at times and so slowed down the reading of the book but then again allowing yourself more time to read this book will allow for you to really think. After speaking to my own mum about this book, I realised being a mother would definitely mean you have a different perceptive on this book as you would be able to more understand the difficulties a mother goes through with her children. Perhaps I would read it again if I ever had children of my own and see how my views towards it change. The book itself opens up much discussion as you are left with unanswered questions that force you to come to your own conclusions.
Would I recommend? Overall, I feel it is an important book to read as it gives a new perspective on life and allows the reader to contend with the ideas of nature vs nurture. I would definitely recommend this book as it different to anything I have read before and I see it sticking with me for a long time to come. The only reason I gave it four stars instead of five is because it was very difficult to get into at first!