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.