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,




Moving Into a Student House or Apartment

Moving into a student house or apartment, be it as a newbie to University or a returning student, can be a life changing experience. If you’ve never lived on your own in a house before, it’s a great opening to adult life. If you have, then prepare for a totally alternate lifestyle!

Most people have been at uni for at least a year will often move into a house with people they know, though that isn’t always the case and can sometimes end up like fresher’s that don’t choose halls and will move in with complete strangers. Whatever your circumstance, here’s X tips to help you either make & stay the best of friends and brothers/sisters or at least co-exist peacefully as housemates.

Have At Least One Gathering

It’s important to get  know the people you’re going to be living with for the next year, even if it’s just a little bit about them such as they’re name,  their course and an idea of  their daily habits so you’ll know what to expect.

It doesn’t have to be a huge thing in you or they aren’t especially social.  Something as simple as drinks in the kitchen or a common space for a couple of hours will start you off nicely.

If you’re concerned about breaking the ice,  perhaps suggest an activity such as watching a film in addition,  playing a video/board game or

Physical a game such as football or pool/billiards (whatever you prefer).

The better you get to know your housemates,  the larger chance you will have of potentially increasing your social circle,  less of a chance of loneliness or isolation and a foundation on which learn to work together to live together easier.

Make a Rota

Accomodation needs maintenance to keep it in shape and since you’re living in a shared space,  it only makes sense to split the work on the areas you share fairly. Many households benefit  from a basic maintenance rota.

It can be as simple as a cleaning rota for the common areas. If you’ve grown to become a family away from home you may wish to apply to this or add other activities such as cooking or shopping (in the case of my housemates in our first  year together we  made a weekday cooking schedule and fended for ourselves over the weekend).

Try between you to stick to it and make amendments for those struggling to ensure you’re all contributing fairly.  Once the process builds  momentum you’ll find the workload better than managing a large place on your own and you’ll breeze through landlord inspections much better.

Agree Some Ground Rules

To ensure everyone gets the respect they deserve and people’s schedules don’t clash a few basic unwritten ground rules don’t go amiss. Most of them will probably be part of your contract anyway and many of them are common courtesy  so it may be be as simple as negotiating together locally so you’re all on the same page.

Typically most people will agree on noise levels and times (many contracts specify no noise leakage to the outside world after around 11pm), cleaning up what is made messy,  agreements on sharing the TV if you have one in a common space,  decisions on house parties or gatherings.

If you’re struggling,  searching online or speaking to your parents or accomodation officer should provide some inspiration.

Once you’ve all agreed,  use your head when you go about you day and remember which rules take priority.  It may be acceptable now and again to turn a blind eye (since nobody like a grass),  but breaching contract rules and law can lead to more serious discipline from your accomodation officer,  landlord or even the police.

Communicate the Important Stuff

If you’re going to introduce an important change to the ecosystem of your home which as getting a pet (good luck getting one allowed in university managed accommodation!), if you’re bringing someone to stay or  if you’re moving out. If it’s going to have an impact on your other housemates lives,  it’s only fair to give them a heads up,  rather than giving them an unexpected surprise. 

Communication is also important at the management level too. If you are a resident  warden or fire warden,  give your housemates plenty of warning if you’re going to test something such as the electric RCD fuses or the fire alarm and likewise if a problem occurs in the house,  voice these concerns to your warden or landlord.  Likewise if something happens and work is required in the house/apartment building  whilst you’re  a tenant your landlord or accomodation office should provide notice to you that contractors and/or their representatives will be visiting. If this communication doesn’t occur,  either party can end up in serious trouble,  so keep the lines open and everyone in the loop. 

Split the Bills

If you live in accomodation where your bills aren’t covered,  you’ll usually only receive one bill for the property.

Just like the cleaning rota,  unless someone is running up the meter with an entertainment system built for a small nightclub,  the bills will be fair game between you. There’s several ways to achieve this and it’s ususally easiest to automate the process through direct debit and run everything on a fixed monthly rate (which if you use less you’ll all get back just as equally in credit). So whether you wish to pick a utility each and pay each other the difference or you set up a house “kitty” and an elected treasurer or took on turns you pay it manually each month.

A creative approach is to set up a payment system like PayPal where each person pays said “treasurer”  each month into their PayPal (not bank account) as credit,  then you pay off your bills through this virtual kitty. You could use a pay book or maybe use a spreadsheet package like Microsoft Excel,  OpenOffice/Libre Office Calc  or Google sheets to track people’s payments and ensure nobody is falling behind. If you choose to do it this way though,  make sure there’s some credit in there first each month  and everyone has contributed  or your treasurer will have a hefty withdrawal from their bank account!

And finally…

Have fun! Uni is one of the first times you’ll be able to move in strangers and move out lifelong friends so take advantage of the opportunity to make new friends and enjoy the experience of living on your own (bit at the same time not in your own if your sharing with others) and –  if your going straight from college or sixth form  –  begin to learn what it is to ‘adult’ each day.