As a first year student living away from home for the first time, this new “student lifestyle” came as quite a big shock to me as I moved into a state of independence. A lot of things that I thought I’d be on top of really threw me off, and some of the things I’ve learnt came in handy quite quickly. Here’s my top 5 things that I’ve learnt as a student:
1. The Importance of Budgeting
Everybody knows that students are skint – I have definitely found myself paying with pennies on multiple occasions. The most valuable lesson I’ve learnt so far is that it is incredibly important to set yourself a weekly budget, whether that means getting a prepaid budget card, planning out weekly expenses, or just keeping a keen eye on your finances, I can’t stress the value of this enough!
2. Shopping Trips
As somebody that can’t drive, I’ve found that doing a weekly food shop was a huge inconvenience to me. I didn’t have any friends that drove so I started off carrying all of my bags up a hill, or resorting to the bus – either way, it killed my arms and made shopping trips more of a workout. If I couldn’t get a friend to drive me, then I found it really easy to use a suitcase for all of my shopping. Yes, a suitcase. I may have looked a bit odd packing my meat and veg into a suitcase, but it made it ten times easier to wheel it all back in one go. If you don’t mind seeming strange at the local Aldi, then it is definitely an energy saving trick.
3. Dealing with Chores
As somebody that snacks constantly throughout the day, I have a lot of dirty dishes. It’s just a few plates, I thought to myself, but believe me, the stack gets bigger and bigger, until you’re lost in a mountain of old dishes and dirty laundry. Though it may seem like a hassle at the time, I’ve found that just doing my damn chores is vital to keeping myself in a decent work and living environment, not to mention all the space it saved in my room.
4. Dealing with Flatmates
I’ve been fairly lucky with my set of flatmates this year, but some people aren’t as lucky. If you’re stuck with a messy flatmate that doesn’t do their dishes, or plays loud music, or won’t take out the bins then believe me, it’s better to talk about it. Leaving your issues aside and not bringing them up is a big mistake! Even if it’s just a note on the fridge, it is always better to confront your flatmates, or you’ll be suffering in silence for the remainder of your time there.
5. Cooking Skills
I’m no Gordon Ramsey, I can tell you that straight off the bat, but it really helped me to know even a few basic dishes before I went to living on my own. Seeing some of my friends eating microwave meals and enough chicken nuggets to put McDonalds to shame really stressed the importance of having a small repertoire, even if it is mostly spaghetti bolognese, or macaroni and cheese. Having a set meal plan for the week helped me to cut down on food expenses but if there’s one thing that I can tell you about university living, it is this: pasta is a godsend.
So those are the hard lessons that I’ve had to learn from my first year of living the low budget, independent student life. Though it’s been weird and I’ve had to adapt quite quickly, it has also been full of fun, new experiences, I’m sure I’ve still got a lot to learn!