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Student life – make yourself at home

Student bloggers offer top tips for living comfortably and settling in at uni.

Poppy Deyes Tom Honeyands Katie Pix Small
Poppy Deyes
lifestyle blogger
Tom Honeyands
tech blogger
Katie Pix
video blogger

Poppy’s advice

During exam season, be calm and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Those library all-nighters are a killer, so try and remember to give yourself some down time too. Never compare what you’re doing to others and just try to stick to your own plan and your own routine. You’ve got this.

Love your new home

  • You can decorate your bedroom walls without causing any damage and losing your deposit. Most rooms that I’ve seen come with a pin board. Now initially when seeing said pin board, I thought it would be useless, but oh was I wrong…within a couple of days, I had filled it with photos of family and friends. It’s just about using all space you have. Hang bunting across your bed, buy tons of cacti (they live forever) and just get creative!
  • Find items that will serve more than one purpose – it’s a win-win situation. Buy Kilner jars; they can store food, stationary, they can also act as vases or even drinking glasses.

John Lewis student room

  • Try and use the whole of the space available to you. Liven up your walls and desk area with items that will boost your creativity and productivity. This could be an inspiring quote, colourful pictures of family and friends, even simply a fun desk organiser will help keep things tidy. Make your space somewhere you want to spend time in.
  • I think the things that are most important are those belongings that make you feel comfortable, that make it your home away from home and feel like yours. The magazines you love, your favourite note book and ear plus, don’t forget the ear plugs…sleep is a must and sometimes just because you have an early lecture doesn’t mean your flat mate does too!

Tom’s advice

Since most of us don’t really know what we want to do at uni, join lots of clubs and make sure you have time for your hobbies and passion projects. I read Law at uni, and only 50% of law students go into the profession after graduation, so keep your options open by spending time on the stuff that really interests you, such as learning to code, starting a blog or creating a YouTube channel.

Top tech tips

  • You Need a Budget (YNAB) is a budgeting app that encourages you to save money each month for larger expenses (such as new textbooks, or travelling home). You divide your income into separate pots (e.g. rent, food and Jaeger Bombs), and then when you get your loan in you can easily budget for all your outgoings.
  • I find listening to music, or a podcast, is a great way to destress, sometimes I would put on a chilled or relaxing playlist on Spotify and try to forget about the 2,000-word essay I needed to do. There’s loads of cool relaxing apps like SmilingMind that introduces you to basic mindfulness and meditation techniques. My personal favourite is Buddhify that gives you a variety of simple meditations to do depending on where you are and what you’re doing - it’s a great way to re-focus and clear your mind.

Studying with music

  • There are lots of great online learning tools. It depends what course you do, but sites like Lynda.com (which your university may subscribe to), offers online video training courses for thousands of subjects. You can easily learn to code or speak French using Lynda.
    For work-flow management, I find creating a Trello board is really handy. You can create colour-coded cards to show what you’ve done, what you’re doing and what you need to do. I find having a clear ‘to-do list’ makes my work life much simpler and less stressful.

Katie’s advice

Always say ‘yes’. If you don’t like football but get invited to go for a kick about, say yes. If someone is going shopping, join them, even if you don’t need to pick up anything. Try as many new activities as you can with as many new people as possible. Even if you don’t particularly enjoy what you’re doing, there’s every chance that you’ll meet somebody you like doing it with.

Food is your friend

  • Find the biggest saucepan you can muster – one big enough to cook up a metric ton of food in one go. You can batch cook up your meals, refrigerating or storing portions for the next few days, making your weekly shop much cheaper and helping you to avoid endless microwave noodle dishes.
  • Food is by far the best way to make friends. Cook up a massive batch of chilli and get everyone together for a dinner party sat on cushions on the floor and eating from their laps. Food brings people together and there’s nothing more enjoyable than hanging out with brilliant people sharing great grub. Read more top tips for freshers' week.

Recipe – Simple Udon Noodle Soup

This is an easy, throw-it-all-in job. Packed with tasty vegetables in a broth, this dish balances sweet, salty, spicy, savoury and sour. It's a true crowd pleaser that shows you don't need to venture out to somewhere expensive for yummy noodles. To save time and money, cook a large batch of the base stock and pop in the freezer. Then you can use again, before all your vegetables go to waste! This recipe serves six.

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The base stock

  • 2 chicken stock cubes and 1.5L water (for vegetarians, swap the stock for a vegetable one)
  • 3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce

Experiment with these amounts until you find the right quantity of salty, sweet and savoury – everyone has different tastes. These ingredients are great staples to store in the cupboard, they can last for a very long time and will be fantastic additions to many other dishes.

The udon ramen

  • 1 red chilli finely sliced
  • 1 thumb sized piece ginger finely grated
  • 3 spring onions finely sliced
  • a handful of chestnut mushrooms, quartered, stalks removed
  • 4 pak choi cut into quarters lengthwise (savoy or white cabbage will also work well)
  • a handful beans sprouts (optional)
  • 300g boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into generous chunks (remove if vegetarian)
  • ½ bunch of coriander (separate leaves from stalks and finely slice the stalks)
  • 3 packs ready to wok udon noodles
  • lime juice to taste

Play around with the vegetables you include – baby corn, sugar snap peas or whatever you may have in your vegetable drawer can all be included or as a substitute to whatever you're not fond of in the recipe above. Just don’t cook them for too long, as the dish is meant to be fresh and crunchy.