Fresher’s Fortnight: 6 Essential Places to Get You Acquainted With Student Life

Let’s be honest, starting to look after yourself and potentially living away from parents can be a daunting thought. However, in the age of digital technology and where everyone seems to have information available at the touch of a button, it doesn’t have to be quite so bad! If you, like me, didn’t quite have independence in the house as much and you’re just starting out in looking after yourself, be you a fresher to uni itself or to being the “proper grown up”, here’s 6 fantastic resources to help you to step into those shoes and make yourself proud.


Your University or College App

This one probably sounds a little cliche, but these days most institutions will have their own app on iOS or Android, or a web application built into their site. These usually let you access timetables, reading guides such as LibGuides, the library catalogue, resource booking, possible access to an online learning environment and an online directory or webmail so you can get in touch with different tutors, lecturers, professors and support staff. Whilst it may seem a bit of a gimmick at first, in time you’ll find this may become your daily companion to allow you to get to what you need. Back when my university campus existed, we used a tool known as the Pocket Campus (which also existed as an intranet as well as kiosks and a pair of giant touchscreens in the reception) and gave invaluable access to things like booking studio time or finding out what the latest bulletins for the campus were.

How-To Videos

These days, it’s easy enough to learn any basic skills you might need such has how to cook something, how to change a component in your car or how to fit a new cylinder on your gas heater. Depending on what responsibilities you may have been given at home, you might find you’ve got some new ones in your new digs, from cleaning up the house to making your own food.

Sites such as Howcast, Instructables and Wikihow offer great step by step instructions and channels like SORTED Food and How To Adult on YouTube give you helpful tutorials in video form. If you’re stuck for motivation, there’s even channels for that too such as The Life Survival Guide series on WERK! TV (Devon Werkheiser, of Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide fame).

Discount Websites

Living like a student is a pricey business. Fortunately many companies feel your pain and like to display offers and discounts to students. Unfortunately, it can be hard to keep track of this without a fairly centralised experience. In the UK, sites such as NUS TOTUM (formerly Extra) offer a great directory for deals, especially for students. Internationally there’s also  Student Beans, UNiDAYS and the ISIC Card to take advantage of, with an array of benefits online and on their app! Sign up early to make the most of these throughout your time at uni. Amazon also advertise their Prime service at a discount too, provided you have a student address.

Access to tech and software from the likes of Adobe, Dell, Microsoft and HP is cheap too from their websites. On certain courses, access to software may be free courtesy of your institution through the Microsoft Student Partner Program found on the MSDN website.

Finally, don’t forget the generic discounts you can get from the likes of HotUKDeals, PRIORITY (offers and event tickets) on the O2 Mobile network or Wuntu on the Three mobile network.

Student Forums

If you’re starting afresh or just need to find some like-minded people to share the experience you’re all going though, student forums and groups are good good place to start. Many colleges across the world will have their own community forums or apps that will be advertised to you at application (possibly even part of the apps mentioned above!), on the website or emailed to you as part of a welcome pack. The Student Room is also a popular option in terms of a message board, whilst typing in virtually any university name into Facebook can pretty much guarantee a wealth of groups already existing. Not seen a Fresher’s group for you yet? Why not start one featuring your institution or campus name – don’t forget to set it to public so other new students can find and connect with you. If you prefer a more Tinder style approach to making new friends and meeting people, Friendsy is another option more focused to US students available for iOS or Android on the respective app stores.

Welcome Parties/Events

Given a number of you will have already started or will be beginning in the next couple of weeks, don’t forget to attend all the welcome events and socials occurring both as part of Fresher’s Week and in local bars, clubs, sports teams and organisations. These are crucial networking events on different levels to allow you to meet others in the same boat as you as well as veterans that can steer you in the right direction, and in the case of interest groups may be people who share your passions and/or interests, breaking a huge chunk of the ice to get you involved in conversations and activities to allow for that all important bonding where friendships and partnerships form. Not found a group you like? Similar to the online groups, why not open up your space for a party or a meal? Just ensure you follow your house or college/university guidelines to ensure you don’t get your new found friends on the wrong side of things, or that first impression might not go down so well!

Don’t Forget Your Old Friends!

Whilst it might seem a little backwards, especially if you’ve moved cities, states or even whole countries to get to your institution, but friends are friends and will always be there to give you the same form of advice. If anything, they may still be going through what you are at a different institution and may be able to offer advice on what has worked for them as well as you offer them in return. For those whose friends may be in different fields, they can provide you with that sense of grounding as you get used to a new life and will ensure you still have those people to see when you go back home or visit a place where they live and allow your friendship to grow with you and your life as you both/all learn to adult together.


For those who have been through it before, what was it like adjusting to student life for you? Do you maybe have any alternative advice? Feel free to share any stories and comments down below!




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.




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,




Feeling Homesick or Alone

Hey everyone. After watching a recent video, I really thought this would be a great time to post this topic, just as the realities of university will be sinking in for newbies to the student life and for those returning students that may have moved in on their own for the first time or indeed any time.

Living away from home can be a life changing experience, but as with every up, comes it’s down sometimes. After a few weeks it’s perfectly normal to miss life at home  and sometimes feel a little homesick.

Alternatively, it can sometimes feel lonely if you live on your own or your friend and significant others are away for a long period of time. You might even feel lonely when others are around  (for instance being single around people in relationships, the general feeling of being in a new place with nobody you know or other more personal reasons).

To help you combat this unpleasant feeling, here’s five different suggestions to help you on your way to feeling yourself again.

A big shout out to great The Huffington Post, The Guardian & KEEPINSPIRING.ME for the helpful examples and to the very lovely Hannah Witton with this video for inspiring me to add my own experience and compile this list.

Keep Busy

Sounds obvious right? But honestly, a common prerequisite to loneliness is doing nothing. Not doing anything productive or entertaining, often leads to boredom, boredom leads to internal contemplation, contemplation leads to realisation and then you reach the penny drop that you’re there. Alone. And it’s not cool. And left to fester, it gets quite depressing. So how do we avoid this decline?

Do stuff.

Don’t worry, I won’t just leave you contemplating that. You should do something you either enjoy or you feel benefits you. This could be a hobby, some housework , some studying, going to the gym, anything that will keep your mind and body occupied and off that other subject we mentioned earlier.

Immerse Yourself In Another Universe

If you don’t feel socially fulfilled in this world, transport yourself in a fantasy one where you can connect with other character or indeed other real players around the world. Read a new or favourite book and let yourself get lost in the world and the actions of the characters described. Watch a non-easy watching film in the dark and experience the drama as it unfolds around you, or contrast with something comedic (after all laughter is meant to be the best medicine!). Log onto a game server (RPG, FPS and MMO games will be great for this) and become somebody else for a few hours. You never know you might meet other like minded people along the way and both indulge in the great life away from life together (or just blow up each other to smithereens!)

Don’t Get Drunk Whilst Lonely

You see it happen in the movies and it it looks like it’s a good solution, but what they’re really going through is kept off camera. Alcohol is naturally a depressant, both physically and  psychologically, though how it affects people is different to each individual and depends on a lot of variables (making it already a bad idea). My personal experience with large amounts of alcohol is that it’s like an amplifier for emotions. So in a parallel universe where I’m sober, if I’m having a good time, in the drunk one I’m having a blast! However in this case, if I was lonely, I’d be a bit down sober, so I’d feel much worse after a number of drinks – therefore negating the whole point. That and you’ll feel the hangover the next day extending your gloom further.

Go Exploring

When I recently became single, I didn’t find the idea of sitting in a bedroom all day too appealing. I wanted to get out and at least explore more of the county I was in. Considering I don’t (yet) drive I had to rely on public transport – and this turned out to be a great thing. I could pick a different destination on the map every few weeks and take off to somewhere else using the money that would have otherwise been spent as a couple. Not that you can’t do this if you’re in a relationship, just make sure you budget carefully so as not to miss out on opportunities when you spend time with your SO. If you’re not sure where to go or you’ve just moved to a new location and therefore know little about your immediate environment, pick a random place that looks interesting and take off. Just make sure that somebody knows where you are though if you do this.

Seek Out Your Family or Your Closest Friends

Your family are the support network you’ll never lose and your closest friends are the ones you get to pick. In today’s connected world, most people have access to communication of some kind (from top of the line video conferencing to a simple land-line phone or nearby phone box/booth/thing). Just a few respective characters and you can have somebody on the other end of the line to converse with and talk to. If phone calls or video chatting aren’t your thing, have a kitty for trips home. A brief trip back to home life can often be the thing to get you back on track. One word of advice though, keep to the three week rule when you first move out (if you have). If not, you won’t be so much of a “home bird”  as somebody that doesn’t leave the nest (which is always worth trying out in life! Once you’re used to it, a whole new world opens up for you!)


I hope this post has some great advice for you and if you struggle with feeling lonely or homesick I strongly encourage you to check out the links above and to follow these tips. Feeling lonely can affect everyone at any point in their life. Nobody should ever feel embarrassed about it and nobody deserves to suffer in silence. 

Don’t hide it, Don’t ignore it.


Thanks for reading and I’ll post another slightly more positive post again on Tuesday.