Fresher’s Week: 6 Useful Things To Check Off

It’s that time of year again! When no-longer children fly the coop to explore a subject of their interests, or perhaps return after a couple of years there already in pursuit of the most expensive and valuable piece of paper you will ever own (well, until you decide to do a Masters or PhD!). Whilst some of you may have already arrived and settled in, and others may still be packing their bags and shopping for supplies, here’s a few things you should make sure to do in your first week or two of starting the new University semester.

Bring Your Documentation!

There’s no doubt when you first got accepted you’ll have been given a letter and some forms with reference information on. It’s important to keep hold of this, at least until after you’ve registered. Particularly for UK based students, it’s really important to bring your financial information as proof if you’re paying by student loan and your payment details if not.

If you’re returning for additional years, please check with your institution what additional documents you might need to register in addition to your finance.

Get Your Kit Before the Sales End!

If you’re leaving home, make sure you pick up all your housewares and essentials before the sales end. Rebuilding your life can be an expensive business, not to mention course materials and the instruments you need to do your assignments and homework on. If you’re not sure where to start or want something to double check by, please feel free to check our my Student Essentials post I wrote last year, I’ll be here when you get back.

Meet Your Neighbours

If you’ve moved into different accommodation that’s shared, it’s good courtesy to meet your fellow house or floormates, whom you’re going to be sharing facilities with for the next year. Many a lifelong friendship has started in student accommodation, but as with every epic journey of friendship, it starts with a first step. So be brave and knock first. You never know, you might just get a few knocks on the door in return. If you’re still staying at home, it’s worth introducing yourself to any newcomers on your street or on campus – many people will have travelled to an entirely new town and surroundings, so it’s nice to have a friendly and welcoming face when faced with a completely new environment.

Sign Up For The Vital Essentials

I’m a true hypocrite for this one (all the more reason to preach it!) but when the opportunity comes, it pays to sign up for medical services such as the doctors, dentist and opticians as well as knowing where the nearest hospital or medical centre is. Particularly with weeks of booze filled fun and winder diseases around the corner, it’s good to know you can head somewhere should your health go south.

Sign Up For the Less Essentials (But More Fun)

No fresher’s week is ever complete without a fair – a chance for both the university and student union/student body/Guild to showcase different extra curricular activities (sometimes known as clubs or societies) you can enjoy with your friends and colleagues outside of contact time. From chocolate to archery to debatable conversation to wildlife conservation – there’s usually something out there for everyone, and on the rare chance you are in that “unusually” bracket, you can often make your own with a few members and some ratification from the officials. Sign up is usually free and membership at bargain prices, so don’t just sit there…get out and do something special!

If socs and clubs aren’t your thing, maybe look into your university’s athletic union – there’s often a whole bunch of sports to choose from including football (both kinds), racquet sports, bowling, jousting,and swimming etc, with the possibility of this helping boost your exercise, allow you to have fun and potentially find a secret calling (after all, the NFL draft in the USA is traditionally performed with college football players).

Make the Most of Your First Week

For newcomers to university, there is always a lot going off for you to choose from to help meet new people, make new friends and learn more about the area. By day, take advantage of discounted tours and trips to local attractions, enjoy fair days and cookouts and fun events to get you into the student spirit. At night the bars and clubs come alive with cheap offers to entice you to spend away.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure to try at least 2 things out there – you may regret it later on down the line when you hear your friends talk the memory of something only they shared.

Use Your Frugal Instincts

One of the great things about student life, is the ability to get money off shopping items often with a large amount of the price sliced off. Look for coupons in your Student Union or Guild, flyers dropped in the postbox or mailbox, special offers for certain nights at bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants, sign up for your university’s discount program or a body like the NUS and Student Beans in the UK and keep an eye out for special offers with banks and phone networks.


Whilst this a very short list of the many things you must do and experience, I hope it’s enough to inspire you before you start, or help you continue if you’re already on campus.

For returning students, what other factors do you feel are important to remember? Maybe you disagree with what was included? Please feel free to continue the conversation down in the comments field.



3 Ways to Celebrate Pi Day

So, if you haven’t heard yet, today we celebrate the constant of Pi (3.141592…) thanks to those using the Middle-Endian date format of 3/14. Whilst many whom aren’t mathematically might wonder how to celebrate this numerical occasion, here’s 3 and a bit ways to enjoy the experience:

Invest in a Cheap Computer

For British folk, the name “Raspberry Pi” is a badge of pride being one of the most successful affordable computers that helped to pioneer hacking and coding for the younger age in the 21st century so far. Starting out with the intention of allowing schoolchildren access to a basic computer to learn programming skills on, the Pi has exploded in popularity and found uses in many projects from smart IoT inventions, to cheap media players, to web servers and basic everyday productivity machines ranging from as little as £4 for the “Zero” edition (Very often out of stock) to ~£35 GBP for a Model 3B (the latest version). So if you fancy learning a few new skills that might just help you with a job in the future, or you just want a cheap new thing to complete essays on or watch movies with, check out your favourite electronics shop for the Raspberry Pi range.

Pop Down to Your Local Chippy

(if you’re in the UK)

If you’re in the United Kingdom or a country with a nearby “Chip Shop” and failing that, your local bakery almost anywhere, enjoy your Pi day with a “Pie” for dinner.

For those with culinary talents, why not make one up with your favourite filling?

However you want to enjoy it, enjoy responsibly!

 Get Pi(e) Eyed

As students, what do (many) of you do best? Drink. If you’re into creative cocktails or shots, why not try out some themed drinks? Links to the right as always.

I hope you enjoy the day whatever you choose to do!


Word Count (inclusive): 314


Getting back to the Grind

The December period is over and it’s time to prepare for the next semester. Boo! It sucks, I know, but sometimes we need these times to really appreciate how awesome those long breaks can be sometimes.

So, since the work has to be done so you can get that degree, here’s a few things to do to help you get prepared for the return to uni (if you haven’t already).

Make a List

Some people love lists, others find them laborious, but particularly if you’ve got to travel back to student accommodation it’s important to make sure you’ve got everything you want to take back with you from clothing, to your notes, to your new presents as well as making a list of any further provisions you’ll need like food or anything you’re short of in the Essential Student Supplies that you might not have stocked up on before going home.

Task programs on your smartphone or tablet are helpful for this, or if you’re a multi device person like me, give Todoist or Evernote (not sponsored) a whirl and have your checklist with you wherever you go. If you prefer to go lo-fi, then the dead trees and ink approach is still a valid option.

Find Out Who Is Back When

One reason many hold off going back early is the fear of being on their own with nothing much to do, so make use of your contacts on your phone or social media to find out when your friends are going back too. If you think about it, going back early isn’t always bad. The library is quiet, so are the clubs (meaning they might finally play your song) and the pubs (no lines at the bar) and you can play your guitar at the volume your amp secretly wishes you could play at!

Maybe Finish Those Assignments?

Yeah…your deadlines will be coming up so if you haven’t started them yet, it’s probably best do start now lest you having to pull another all-nighter… (Totally not done that before).

Let Work Know Your New Timetable

If you’ve got a termtime job, it’s worth letting your employer know your potential changes to your timetable. New modules doesn’t always mean they’ll replace the times of the old ones – particularly if you share classrooms and teaching spaces with other programmes in your department(s). If you don’t, there’s a chance your sessions could clash with your shifts and before long you’ll soon find that either your job performance or your attendance/assignment performance will suffer, or both and that’s not a great start to the year!

Have Some Fun!

Going back to campus doesn’t need to be all depressing, if you’ve got a few days before the semester restarts and you’re back with your mates, go out and enjoy the reunion and remember the good times before all the exams and going home!


Going back to uni needn’t be a (organisationally) difficult process if done in advance of the semester starting again, so save yourself some stress and enjoy the good times before all the work begins again.

Happy New Year and I wish you all the best in a productive as well as fun 2017!



New Year’s Resolutions You Probably Won’t Keep

With only a few days to go before we wave goodbye to 2016, I’m sure many of you will be making new year’s resolutions up to announce as we speak. Without trying to me Mr Johnny Rain – cloud, I’ve been there any see it through both personal and friend’s experience and I know there are some of the more vague or cliché resolutions out there that either have a rare chance or simply do not work out. Here are a few red flags to avoid (or at the very least refine and personalise to be realistic for yourself!) so you can come up with something to keep past the first couple of weeks!

I’m Never Drinking Again

Often proclaimed on New Year’s Day itself, unless you have been considering it for a while for reasons personal to yourself or your health, just going cold turkey on the booze isn’t good for your wellbeing (when you’re out with your friends again) and for the more medical issues it’s also pretty dangerous. I’ve tried spontaneous cold turkey before a few times and it usually ends in one of two ways, a.) You either get bored on the night and eventually cave to the pressure. b.) You don’t cave and usually end up either bored of the night and go home early or suddenly responsible for everybody else that’s drunk. Now this doesn’t happen to everyone of course and for those people, power to you and I hope you have many more great nights to come! But for those who have had many nights out during the semester and don’t usually see the end of it, see it suddenly sober shows you a whole new view on clubbing that the staff usually see and you usually tend to prefer one side to the other.

If you plan on cutting down then it’s best to do it steadily. One approach is to maybe take it easy after Christmas, then take it gently on New Year’s Eve before finally easing into Dry January (a primarily UK initiative, but there’s no doubt our US and Canadian readers may also know people that perform this month long challenge). If you’d rather have fun on New Year’s, then maybe have a gentle January and slowly curb the alcohol you consume at pre-drinks whilst maintaining saving money when you reach the town. If you want a little help adding up the units, try the Drinkaware App and tot it up as you go, that way you’ll have full knowledge as you go as to what’s going in your bod at the time.

I Will Join The Gym

Now this one has two sides to it so bear with me!

For those that have wanted to and planned to join long term for a while and are using the calender marker as a chance at a start date, then that’s a great resolution! I wish you the best and after a good taster session or from previous experience I’m sure you’ll have a great experience.

Now for those that make the revelation on the night or the morning after with the realisation of their Christmas dinner, think carefully about it first. According to Ana Swanson’s report in the The Independent at the back end of this year, New Year’s resolution gym memberships bring the search traffic through into a 40% surge, but as the weeks go by, those unused contracted memberships increase as people realise it’s not for them or that it was all a whim and they’re not prepared for that much effort to get rid of a little weight.

So if you’re going for a little fitness, do it but think about how you want to achieve it first lest you not want to be burned by a 6 or 12 month subscription you’re only going to use a couple of months of.

I’m Going on a Diet

Again, like the gym, this one takes commitment and like drinking should probably be done to a sensible plan. First of all, what do you hope to achieve out of your diet? There are many definitions of the word “healthy” bandied about, with diets that cut out different food groups, others that restrict calories and others that are used to complement workouts and particular exercises. Many of these serve their purpose well provided they are followed correctly and for the right reasons. Picking one based on a mere name or whim may produce undesired results and cause you to go off the idea, blowing your resolution before the year is out.

The sensible option if you’re serious about changing your culinary intake is to decide what for. Many popular approaches now follow the basic idea of trying to balance your diet such as that of Slimming World, that doesn’t forbid foods but allows you to enjoy things in moderation in a guided manner. For those that are committing to their pre-tasted or returned to gym membership could take advantage of the Paleo Diet on advice of their personal trainers. If you attend the David Lloyd chain of gyms (and if you do you’ve got one impressive savings account!) you’ll find their café menu is based around this diet.

If you’re still feeling a little larger or want to be more active after reading this then groovy – just make a plan of what you want out of it and why you want to do it and that’ll get you one step closer to deciding just what plan you wish to follow and always have motivation to stick with it once the initial novelty wears off.

To Make 2017 The Best Year Ever!

Okay, this one sounds a little cynical, but for all of those saying that they can’t wait for 2016 to be over due to all the famous deaths/The events of Brexit/The US Election/The terrorists attacks/The Eastern Conflicts and more and 2017 will be awesome – I hate to break it to you, but 2017 will continue some of these trends. Brexit isn’t over yet until Britain has actually left the EU and the fallout of it has settled (if ever). To those that were shocked or unhappy with the US Election result, we still have a few years until Trump’s administration is thrown back to public voting so we’ll have to wait and see what happens, The conflict may well end or it may not but sadly and unfortunately it won’t happen overnight.

My point is, each year sucks in it’s own way for us on a personal or global level and will continue to. There is no single Best Year out there and many are now starting to realise this. However, that doesn’t stop you from making your own year great in your special way. If you’ve always dreamed of making a new change, you can use this year to  start the ball rolling. If it’s your final year, study hard, play to your strengths and do only your best to set in motion what you’re destined for (or indeed may start to find out what you’re destined for).


New Year’s Resolutions are a great way to improve yourself but are often cited too vaguely or ambitiously and sometimes ironically as many people know they won’t actually last out the month, never mind the year. But tweaked a little bit to become more realistic for yourself you can come up with a new fun way to live your life and you never know you might actually achieve it!


Happy New Year everyone and I hope you have a great end to 2016.


5 Things to do Whilst You’re Home

Unless you’ve been back for the odd visit already (and inevitably hit up some of the points in this post), this will probably be your first extended stay away from your new student life that you’ve become accustomed to. So naturally, there’s a few more useful things to consider whilst you’re parked in one place

Get a Second Bag

If you’re stopping with family, be it at home or with extended family, chances are that you’re going to go back to uni with a little bit more than you came home with. Sometimes it’s because you find more stuff to take back (especially with Christmas around the corner and some awesome presents on the way, this will be a given). Sometimes it’s a restock of food and supplies by loving family members. Either way you may need something to take this back in – even if you’re driving up (it really helps with getting it unloaded!).

Eat Up

In festive times like these, we tend to eat a lot of food. Being starving students this is probably a good opportunity to get your appetite up and get some good food in you! If you’re like me when I was a student, use this as an opportunity to bolster your cooking knowledge or if you’re already a self acclaimed chef, to get in some real world practice ready to impress your friends with new recipes next semester.

Reconnect with your Friends

Whilst we live in an age where text messages are virtually unlimited, access to VoIP and video chat (like FaceTime, Skype, Hangouts and Viber) is on tap and social media has become the norm for contact, it’s still no replacement for meeting up face to face over a cup or tea/coffee, a walk in the park, a day down town or a pint in the pub. You won’t be in town for ‘long’ (if you’re a fresher you’ll learn that these 3 odd weeks are nothing compared to summer…), so use the time to reconnect and catch up with those friends you don’t get to see so often anymore.

Check Your Inventory

Twelve weeks is a long time and can take a toll on the stationary, equipment and storage space. With a lot of valuable work in your books and on your devices, it’s worth taking the time to archive and back everything up. Whilst it may be a good while before you may actually need to look at it again, it’s always worth having that available just incase your tech falls down or you leave your notes on the train. It would be painful should you need to resit or use it as reference to do all that research again from scratch!

Whilst you’re on the restock shopping trip, it’s probably worth restocking on these items whilst there is a chance, rather than getting a surprise when you need your utensils in your first lecture back.

Tech wise, it’s probably worth tuning up your machine too such as clearing out your temporary and unnecessary data (once your important files have been backed up of course!) and de-fragmenting your hard drive to allow it to perform swiftly again ready for your next batch of assignments. I’ll talk about this more in the New Year, but a couple of good programs I would highly recommend are Piriform’s CCleaner for Windows and macOS or Bleachbit for Linux/Windows. For De-fragmenting I’d recommend (again, by Piriform – not sponsored) Defraggler. As I’ve learned over time Linux based systems (such as Ubuntu, Debian, elementaryOS etc) and macOS systems don’t need de-fragmenting so much due to how their file system works, so you can skip this step for now!

Enjoy The Break!

Whether you’ve spent the last few weeks working hard or hardly working, everyone likes a true break from the weekly timetable of lectures and seminars now and again with the freedom to do what you want or need to, so enjoy these few weeks whilst they last and let yourself get used to the duality of your home/student life combined.

I hope you all have an amazing Christmas and I’ll be posting again just after boxing day.




5 Ways to be Festive with your Student Family

With Christmas, Hannukah and Kwanzaa fast approaching and lots of you preparing to go home soon, I’m sure you’ve thought about the people on your floor or in your flat/house or even your wider circle of friends and getting into the Christmas spirit this season. Whilst many will opt for the Christmas meal or hope to join one of the many themed parties on the town, sometimes it’s hard to get that table when your favourite restaurant is booked out or you’re struggling to balance your budget for your Wednesday night sesh against buying gifts for your family and friends. Fear not, for there are many creative ways to enjoy Christmas with your friends on a tight budget. Here are a few ideas to get started.

Host a Jacob’s Join/Potluck Party or Holiday Dinner

If you’re struggling to afford a full fat meal each at a restaurant, why not host a feast of your own between friends and each bring a dish. This could be done in a traditional bring your own party, or you could make a communal Holiday Dinner together if you all live nearby, each bringing a portion of the meal or liquid refreshment to the host location. This in turn will hopefully mean you all get more food for your money as well as the satisfying feeling you contributed to your respective December feast without the crazy stress of preparing the whole thing yourself or polishing off your wallet on a meal out.

Secret Santa Your Presents

At some point everyone has experienced or heard of an organised secret Santa. If this is your first time hearing of it,  there’s a few different forms of it. The most common form basically works where those participating will enter their name into a hat (or equivalent), the names are shuffled and each participant will be asked to pull out a name. This name isn’t revealed until the end (hence the secret) and you then have to buy a present for the person who’s name you picked out of said hat. On hand in day the people are either revealed by giving your gift to the person, or they are placed on a table in private and the recipient picks it up when everyone congregates. Whether you reveal the senders to each other, or keep it a secret forever is up to you and your group.

Another variation involves no names at all and you’re expected to buy just a gift for the centre circle. Once these are bought it follows the format similar to above where these are secretly placed in a neutral location and chosen in some form (e.g: from a sack, by numbers like a tombola or just straight claimed) and again, the buyer may be revealed or kept quiet – it’s all up to you.

This is often a useful way of gift giving on a budget as you’ll only need to buy one present, everyone participating is guaranteed one and it’s a little bit of fun with your friends.

Group Decoration Session

Whilst you might not be in your student pad on your respective day, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the festive times whilst you’re there. With commercial ventures getting scarily earlier and earlier with Christmas decorations and with Kwanzaa and Hannukah occuring long after you leave, it’s worth spending some time together to have an early version of it with your student family. So grab a tree, a candelabra or decorative Dreidals (which can be used for games) to recognise your respective holiday together before you celebrate it officially with the family.

Have some ‘Family’ Time

Whilst you may not be brothers and sisters, if you’re in accommodation and you’re close as friends it’s a great idea to spend the downtime together as a family and what better excuse to unwind with some “family” style fun. So get get out your party video games like Jackbox Games or Buzz, blow the dust off that Nintendo Wii you once thought was cool a few years ago or recalibrate the Kinect or Eye Toy, dig out the old school board games or the new style ‘grown up’ card games, find some pens and paper, or make use of the aforementioned Dreidal and have a blast! If you can afford a cheap night, why not make use of a good old fashioned pub quiz (or indeed it’s smartphone equivilant) or take a go at Rock and Roll Bingo (usually £1 entry at many places). Whatever your chosen method of entertainment, make sure it’s something you can all enjoy!


Sound a bit too sensible? Thought so.


Party Like It’s 1999 All Over Again

It’s just not the end of the year without a little celebrating is it? So if you can’t afford to hit the town, get a few beverages of your choice, compile a playlist of the old classics and a few modern hits. Grab a few more metres of flashing Christmas lights and party on! (Just don’t irritate your neighbours after 11 or you’ll get more than lumps of coal arriving!)


However you choose to spend your holiday, I hope you all have an amazing time and let me know what you get up to in the comments below.




Surviving the Chill – Clothing

Whilst heating is a modern wonder and when working correctly, a godsend to many a student sometimes, clothing is still probably the most basic and useful amenity you can possess smartly to help keep you warm this winter. Now I’m no good nor bothered with fashion as many people who know me agree and thankfully my stylist family help to keep me in check with those that do care, so I won’t go into specific designers in this article and let you guys decide from there. So without further ado, here’s the best bits of clothing to work with this season.

Hoods & Jumpers

Now I mentioned these in the previous post in this series about hoods and warm jumpers so I won’t go into it too much, but for the sake of another nag – wear a few layers on top!! It’s a cheap and effective method to help keep you warm and with most student unions, guilds and university shops stocking their merchandise not too far away, there’s no shortage of supply of these basic layers to keep you warm. For the Brits among you, it’s also a good excuse to get involved in the National Christmas Jumper day!

Thermal Underclothes

These can come in all shapes and sizes from underpants to vests to socks. These clothes are made from thicker materials often designed specifically to be breathable but to help trap the heat your body so readily dissipates when exposed to the elements to help keep you insulated when you’re out and about or the electric/gas runs out! These are usually found seasonally in supermarkets, department stores and clothes shops as well as year round in outdoor, army surplus or travel shops.

Scarves, Gloves & Hats

When we were little we took the idea of gloves, hats and scarves for granted when our parents made us wear them for school (and inevitably something would go missing towards the end of winter). With your head giving out the most heat from your body, it’s wise to wear something on your noggin to help prevent the heat from escaping.

Electronically Heated Clothing

With electronics and textiles getting closer together each year electronically heated clothing is becoming more of a thing. These aren’t the cheapest to maintain, but with mos simply comprising of a wire element between the two layers of fabric ending in contacts. This allows you to safely wash and dry the clothes before adding electricity. The other halves of the circuit are stored in battery packs that live inside specially made pockets in the clothing or elsewhere on your person. Depending on the cell size clothes can last from a few minutes to a couple of hours on a single charge, which if used economically should tie you over for a walk to the shops or your friends and back.

Heat Pads

Okay, it’s not strictly clothing, but you do apply it to your person. These curious little things often contain small solids or gels, which when activated in some way will perform an exothermic reaction, with the resulting heat being used to heat your person for a limited time. Depending on the compound, you may be able to use the more expensive pads numerous times allowing you to keep your hands, pockets or wherever you place it (be warned, some give off high temperatures so be careful when applying directly to certain parts of the skin to prevent burns!). The lower end of the market usually consists of single use pads, but these are useful if you have to walk a long distance in the freezing cold, or to keep in your bag or car just in case. With most of these having no expiry date, if you have some left over hang onto them for next year and save yourself some pounds!


Walking around on solid floors isn’t great when the temperature drops, so to save you having to sprint around the kitchen or bathroom (or anywhere that isn’t carpeted), invest in a pair of comfortable slippers. You can go open top, or full on grandparents, so long as it’s warm and you don’t traipse them around outside too much then a little investment in these foot favourites will save you having to Bolt to the bathroom or act out Farrah for a cheeky fag.


Some people like to have 2 wardrobes for the year, some hate the idea of stepping into a clothes shop unless they need to, but invest in these clothes and it’ll keep you from having to spend more on heating your premises and will hopefully contribute towards the prevention of you getting ill (which I’ll cover in the next post).


Surviving the Chill – Heating

No, I don’t mean the eternal bliss of lying on your bed or ‘vegging’ on the sofa during a Netflix session. I’m talking the time when the temperatures drop below what you’re used to.

When it starts feeling chilly, here are some hot tips to help you keep warm in summer/winter (depending on where you are).

Burn Baby Burn


If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with a certified wood or coal burner or even an open chimney this will help you carry on the age old tradition of fire in a safe manner. Fuel doesn’t come cheap admittedly, but bought together, it’s a natural way for everyone in your household to keep warm. Using fire based products does come with the obvious caution though, especially open ones. Make sure you have the appropriate safeguards in place and there’s a log somewhere to say your burner has been certified safe against smoke and carbon monoxide. Without them…well, is it worth bearing thought?

Crank It Up (The Heat & Your Bills)



If you’re a place with central heating installed, oil filled radiators or electric heaters (or perhaps you’ve bought one), this is probably the more modern approach to warming yourselves that you’re used to…until you realised it costed a fortune! If you’re living in Halls of Residence or a student house where your bills are covered for you, enjoy it whilst it lasts!

For those paying bills, it’s not the end of the world. With moderation and the right models of portable heaters, it is possible to use these devices without breaking the bank.

A trick my father taught me (being an electrician by trade) is to look for the wattage of your heater before you buy. This will provide a key indicator to how much it will cost you to run. On traditional electric meters (and smart meters if you click through the options), electricity is measured in “units”. This unit is equivalent to 1,000 watts of power used over a measured hour or 1kWh. Certain models of heaters will come with different modes with different wattages for each (as an example, the portable heater I have has 3 switch-able elements that use 400 Watts each, totally to 1200W on full power), so learning to conserve it’s use and balancing your power needs to accommodate your appliance will help reduce shocks when you get your electric bill.

Central Heating is a slightly different animal. Being connected to a boiler, this will use both your gas your electric. Depending on your settings your heating will make use of these whilst enabled, or during a set time. If you have a master thermostat in your property, ensure this is set to a temperature you’re all happy with. The higher it goes, the more work your boiler will have to do to heat the system up to that temperature, the longer it stays on and the more of each resource is used.

Either way, use responsibly when you need it, not just because you want it and you’ll save some cash!

In The Hood


One of the most popular solutions people hear when they say they are cold is to wear a jumper (sweater for those outside of the UK). Oddly enough, they’re not wrong, especially when the most famous thing you can get from a university is the jacket or the ‘hoodie’, sometimes the official one, sometimes a sports one, they all will give you the same benefit (I’m currently wearing one from a student organisation or union/guild at the time of writing – not the red one either!). Whilst this clothing does have a bad reputation in the wider community, university hoodies are seen as acceptable in student towns and the hood itself does provide some warmth and comfort when inside.

If hoods aren’t your thing, thick jumpers (sweaters), fleeces and body warmers will also help you to keep warm and maybe mean you can wait a couple more degrees before you have to resort to one of the options above.

Chicken Soup for (More Than) The Soul


A good hot beverage or food like hot soup will also help to keep you warm. Regular drinking of hot beverages will help to raise your internal temperature and in turn warm you up from within. Like most things this should probably be done in moderation, but a cup of tea or coffee, a mug of soup or hot chocolate or, being the season, some mulled wine or cider won’t go astray.

Just don’t have the caffeine before bed! (unless you’re planning an all nighter!)

Duvets & Blankets

Wrap Up Warm. Own Work

(Totally not used this image before!)

If you need some quick relief from the chills, a good thick duvet (10 tog or higher) will usually do the trick. Simply climb in bed with your laptop and continue, or if you prefer to be semi-social, remove from the bed and drape over yourself. Who needs heating when you have an everyday insulator to cover your back – literally!


There are many modern creature comforts out there to help you keep warm, but they all come at a continuous cost to run and maintain, but often some everyday items can help you keep you from shivering during the long cold nights that often will cost you the same as what they did every other day.


Your Representation

With the US Presidential Election coming to a close with the main voting day today, it seemed only appropriate to mention politics in your student life.

A Brief Announcement for Americans

First off, to any students and parents reading this, I’m not an American nor a massive fan on national politics (check my Instagram account if you can find it for our British elections and EU Referendum polling days) but if you haven’t already voted over there – hit lock on your computer, go out to your nearest polling station AND VOTE (and then come back here when you’re done!) even if it’s the one thing you do to care about the campaign. Your voice decides your future for the next few years (and maybe longer for some changes).

And Back to the Studioents

So throughout school you probably had the opportunity to be sat on various panels or to become an elected captain of something that allowed you to have a taste at making a small difference to your school for your year.

At University this is taken up just a notch. A school year becomes several thousand people, little things becomes anything from franchising or representing courses & causes all the way up to managing and spending a budget of a few million pounds. These positions often can enact changes for your social and academic life and possibly also your term-time home life. Whilst this article will focus mostly on UK  student politics, some of these elements may also apply to universities around the world in different forms of student body (Fraternities and Sororities, Student Councils and Guilds etc) and I’d be excited to hear about differences and discussions about your university culture in the comments box below.

Course Representatives

One simple form of representing your students is Course Representation.  This can be found ran either by the University or a Guild/Union.

The role of a course rep,  believe it or not is to represent their peers on their various courses programmes.  Any issues arising with unfair assignments,  poor support from a lecturer or an idea that you think can benefit your course can be sent to your course rep.

Meetings will be held between course leaders and reps and also with the governing body (University or Guild/Union staff) to discuss these issues and to vote on motions and discuss any feedback and changes that need to be enacted to benefit the students and staff for each department and programme.

If you don’t fancy going all out with politics,  but like the feeling of having a voice and the ability to help drive change,  have a look at your University website or speak to a a staff member or a Student Guild/Union member to see what your options are for signing up,  or to find out who your course rep may already be.

Student Guilds & Unions

The most popular  form of politics in British Universities is the Student Guild or Student Union. Whilst allowing you to have awesome free stuff, good student nights and the all famous shop where you can buy your university hoodies, your respective Union is an entity separate from the University representation itself that’s there to represent you as an individual whilst you study (a bit like a Trade Union for work, only you don’t usually have to pay for it).

At many universities you’re granted membership automatically when you enrol at university, with some taking a simple sign up procedure. Once you’re a member you’re able to gain the aforementioned benefits as well as represent and be represented on various issues and campaigns relating to student life. The work for this is usually done by “officers” whom are nominated and elected into the various councils and bodies by you, the students.

You can run for a variety of positions,  complete with campaigns,  hustings and a full election process.  For example in Hull University Union we had the President of the Union for both of our campuses, several Vice Presidents of various slices of the Union (Community, Education, Sports, Campus one for Scarborough etc), Smaller officers that join comittees and meet as part of the Union council panel (whom met regularly to discuss union matters and was open to all members to attend – though voting is restricted to elected officers only), Union Trustees (that sat on a special board with other staff Trustees and the President), Executive Officers that sat under each VP – the list goes on. Some of these positions will be voluntary and some like the VPs and Presidents will be full time paid positions, sometimes deferring your studies for a year whilst you help to run the union.

As mentioned above, I’ve never really been bothered about politics day to day, even with a former partner studying it I just couldn’t get interested in the content itself. On getting an opportunity to look after the revival of our smaller campus radio station however, rolling me into the running for the position of the now defunct “Media Rep” as part of the volunteered & elected campus Executive team, then getting a job in the Union shop and supporting as a staff member as well as a continuing supporter of friends within the Executive and staff teams. As an honorary life member of HUU I continue to wholeheartedly support the union in my graduate life where I can and will always offer my support when needed.

So if an average Joe like me can help support the student experience, why can’t you? If you’re curious about how other student unions work, check out the links on HUU’s referendum page (under ‘What are other Students’ Unions doing?‘) and if you’re a current student, why not ask in your local SU building to see how you can be a part of changing and enhancing your student experience and representing your friends and peers during your time on and around campus.


If you’ve already started your journey to making your mark, how have you supported or represented your peers? How does it work in your institution. Feel free to let me know in the comments below.




Visiting Home

At some point after getting used to living independantly as an adult, you’ll probably want/have to pop home, either because it’s a holiday and you’re going to be sat in an empty house if not (or the University are turfing you out of halls so they can clean/maintain them and rent them out for conferences like my campus did in Year 1), or you just fancy a weekend at home to see how everyone is doing and you miss the family. Whatever the occasion, if it’s the first time you’ll certainly spot some of the points below, with others still appearing each and every time you visit. For the verterans that have done this before, please feel free to expand on the list in the comments below with your own experiences.

The first point though, is an exception and must be said in advance to those who may be reading this ahead for Uni next year:

Follow the Three Week Rule

Whilst it can be a sad time being away from home and on your own at uni, it’s important for parents/guardians and students alike to follow the three week rule. The acual timing for this seems to be debateable but the around a month period didn’t hurt me. If you parents visit too early, or you go home too early, you won’t have as much time to establish that ‘housemate’ feeling with your fellow peers more than a fleeting friendship you will have from meeting a random person during a night out or the people you meet in the same hotel as you when on holiday. It will also intefere with your adaption of learning to be an adult and take care of yourself, sometime converting you into someone who feels that they have to rely on living with their parents to survive rather than just choosing to stay close to them.

If your parents/guardians support you away from home, that’s still fine and different as at the end of the day, you still have to make the decisions on food/cleaning/laundry (delete as appropriate) and when/where to do your assignment, reading and studying without having to be reminded by your parents on a daily basis.

Think of it like healing a piercing – close it too early and you’ll risk not being able to stick your jewelry back in and have the risk of bad stuff happening (in a piercing’s case , infections). However pnce you’re over the threshold and used to doing things yourself, it’s then safe to go back and visit knowing you’ll still be able to go back to uni and carry on independantly too (or in the analogy case, still able to put your jewelry back in after taking it out for a short time).

It’s Weird

It sounds a bit vauge, but it’s true that the first time you go back, it does feel a little different. You’re home, but you’re not. Now if you’re a homebody or family oriented person this might be a great feeling that you’re back where you ‘belong’ and that’s wonderful for you. If you’re not, then it might be a wake up call for the future. Either way, stepping over that threshold will certainly stir some sort of emotion the first time round at the least.

Embrace this feeling, it’ll help you illustrate the difference between home and uni life. There’s nothing wrong with either and it’s completely fine to live both independantly. University is a time for discovering yourself and having the opportunity to ‘let loose’, but there’s also nothing wrong with ‘coming home’ back to your roots and nobody can tell you different. The important thing is to be yourself in both scenarios, even if that you is multifacated and respect both sides equally.

‘Independance’ Takes On A Whole New Meaning

Again, this statement will vary depending on the person.

Some people who may enjoy this feeling of living under parent’s rules again and that’s okay, just make sure it’s a healthy feeling as at some point in time you will need to learn to be independant (a lesson that took me a long time to learn). If you are more independant will have relished the feeling of being (pretty much) your own boss in your own space. When you go home, this world may completely change. You’re no longer in ‘your’ space, you’re under your parents roof and under their rules and have to follow what they say (even if they say ‘help yourself to anything, you still sometimes feel you have to ask!).

This seems fair when you think about it as it’s only the same as when you visit another friend or family member’s house. But at the same time, it’s your home and your bedroom so you feel like you should be able to live like you did before. But is it your room now? Since you moved out it may be been converted or used as a spare room. I was lucky and got to keep my room (albeit redecorated and refurnished in neutral colours over time to serve the dual purpose of being my new space, but a spare room when I’m not there), but at the same time, I felt like I must tidy it at the end of my visit because when I went back, it wasn’t my room again for a time.

The ‘Free Food’ & ‘No Bills’ Feels Like Heaven

So towards the end of October, unless you’ve already found a job or your parents/guardians haven’t cut you off yet, you’ve probably realised that your student loan/savings isn’t going to last forever and so may already be in the process of eating noodles, baked beans (where do you think the blog title came from?) and the cheapest stuff you can find in the supermarket. So the prospect of having food cooked for you and being able to use the shower without questioning it feels like heaven all of a sudden.

Having the extra saving does feel fantastic and may provide you with an opportunity to spend a bit more when meeting up with friends or finally buying that something you’ve been touturing yourself with when online shopping and making that mile long wishlist grow.

Enjoy it whilst you can, though remember that you will still have to save some money for food when you go back to uni (post your blue-cross style hamper you may get to take back with you of course!) and pay those all important bills so that you don’t take cold-trickling showers in the pitch dark. It’s also worth bearing in mind the kindness of your parents/guardians whilst you’re poor as in the future it might only come back around on you when your kids do the same thing ;). It will also show you the luxury of budgeting and saving up so that you may get to enjoy this feeling in the future when income isn’t such a huge concern (that said I’m still working on and waiting to see if that will happen several years on!)

The Humbling Value of Your Family

When you grew up, it was easy to feel that everything would just be done for you, that those chores you were made to do were just to make your parents/guardians happy and their lives easier  and that leaving your homework to the last minute was fine because it’ll all work out in the end. But after you’ve been at uni for a while you start to realise those chores helped you learn how to look after yourself, those things that your folks did you may have to do now and (not as much in first year) that homework actually counts towards to passing the year and getting your degreee. So to go back to the more unwinding paradise of being home again can sometimes feel as welcome refreshment and really value all the stuff that seem so easy in comparison from pre-uni life.

So just before you go (or during if it’s more appropriate), make sure to say thanks to your folks for everything. They’ll say you’re being silly, but you know they’ll appreciate it.

As always, I’ve inevitably missed out a lot of points that you feel happened to you, and I encourage you to share these in the comments section below. Have any of you felt any of these since you’ve been back?

Take Care,