When The Going Get’s Tough…

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Good Evening Readers,

A massive thank you for all the support I had yesterday with the previous article, if you have not already read it, you can find it here. Tonight, it is going to get a little personal and extremely truthful in regards to university. Buckle up Freshers (or students), truth bomb coming at you!

The title of this article as you will have already read is ‘When The Going Gets Tough…’, now, many of you will already know the end to that saying, but for now, we shall save it. What do I mean by this?

Simply, university is going to get tough. Whether at the beginning, in the middle or at the end. University will be tough for you. You are going to experience that time that 99.9% of students go through. The stress, the tears, the defeat, the hopelessness, the pure exhaustion of doing what you are doing. It is going to hit you. Guess what? That’s okay. It is natural.

Now, throughout my time of writing my student blog I have often touched upon the idea that the media portrays student life and university life as a complete facade to what it actually is. It is either at two ends of the spectrum – glorifying student life as they study towards their achievements or the other end of the spectrum, e.g. drugs and the scandal around them and student drinking. However, there is no in between, the truth is not presented. That being that student life is bloody hard. It is hurdles and challenges and sometimes, not succeeding in jumping or facing them. It’s being completely exhausted and having breakdowns over deadlines and word counts. It’s having to work basically full-time and balance studying just so you can eat. It’s stressing you out that much that you actually make yourself ill. It’s having late nights and early mornings equalling in very little sleep just to catch up on work and make it to lectures. It’s having breakdowns to your lecturers about life because you are just struggling to juggle it all. It is constantly worrying about money and how you are going to afford rent. It is facing high school drama that should have ended by now but never did. It’s having to attempt to remain in a social circle and keep your friends and even dipping your toe in the relationship pool and doing all of this whilst trying not to fall apart because you desperately want that degree. It is the physical embodiment of ‘the good, the bad and the ugly.’

I do not make it sound glamorous or welcoming at all, do I? Okay, let me rectify that with the point of this article.

Despite all of this, it is these times where the memories are created and when you realise what university is all about. Yes, at the end of the day, university is always going to be about your degree, but, it’s about how you experience this degree. During all those moments that I mentioned above, that is when you come together as students. Those late nights in the library where you are having a breakdown are the moments your friends bring you a McDonalds, those times when you can’t afford food, those are the moments when friends lend you money or cook for you. When you are ill, your friends nurse you. When you’re having a breakdown, your friends give you a break. When you feel like you’re drifting when your friends, they pull you back in. Being students is a unity. As cliche as that sounds. You stick together.

Because you know when the going gets tough…

The tough get going.

Remember this Freshers, when you down in the dumps and feel like you want to drop out, stick at it. These are where the memories of university are made. You are being tested, keep pushing.

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My Next Step

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Good Evening Readers,

What a lovely afternoon it is! My article today comes, yet again, after a suggestion over on ‘Campus Society’. Seriously, if you have not made a profile on there yet, you really should. Especially if you want to give blogging a go! I’m here today to talk about my next step, after Bishop Grosseteste and where my life is heading!

My three-year journey at Bishop Grosseteste University studying a BA (Hons) Drama in the Community Undergraduate degree is quickly coming to an end. It seems that only yesterday I was a prospective student for this university and had the whole three-year journey ahead of me, but here I am, a couple of months off finishing my degree and looking onwards and upwards! So, what’s next for me?

I’m happy to announce that I’ve applied and been accepted onto, the MA Drama course at the University of Lincoln specialising in the ‘Playwriting’ module starting September 2017. As you can see, I’m still staying in Lincoln! Therefore, currently, I am attempting to achieve the best grades I can in order to continue onto that next step. I am staying within the confines of the theatrical word but narrowing my skills down to what I do best, writing! Specifically, playwriting. When I start the next stage of my university career I will be staying in the same student house that I am currently living in and just move to studying downhill. It’s a rollercoaster of excitement and nerves at the prospect of going onto studying my Masters, but I know this is my next logical step and I am looking forward to it. Alongside this, during the year studying at the UoL, I will be attempting to find work experience within the industry and attempt to start getting my work out in the world as well as attempting to find a stable job to give me some financial stability as I study – this will allow me to live comfortably and be secure financially.

You may be looking at that and thinking; “fantastic”, “wonderful”, “great news!” and yes, it is. This is the next stage of my life and the foundations are already in the place. However, there is a fair amount of pros and cons – or to make it simpler, areas that I am and am not looking forward too. Let me share some of these with you…

What I’m Looking Forward To…

  • A whole new university campus to explore and use.
  • A whole new social group with the potential for new friendships to be made.
  • A new course to study that will expand and strengthen my knowledge as well as give me new skills.
  • The opportunities that come with this course and the ability to look further towards my future.
  • Another year in my student house with some fantastic friends – with that, all the new memories and ups and downs that come with it.
  • Another year in the most beautiful city I’ve ever lived in and be able to continue living in a place I now call home.

What Scares Me…

  • Though mentioned as something that I’m looking forward to, a new campus and a social group equally scare me!
  • The fact that I might not be intellectually on the same level as the rest of my course mates.
  • The fact I could fail my Masters and it would have been a waste of money.
  • Getting into more debt and the entire worry of financial stability.
  • The fact I have no idea what my next step is after this year doing my Masters.
  • What if I cannot support myself financially throughout the next year?

There you go – those are the little things running through my mind when it comes to the next step in my educational journey!

Also, you may be interested to know, I’m currently constructing and refining my own personal business plan to start up a company specialising in Theatre in Higher Education delievered to university students / college students to help them with the transition into ‘student life’.

I’ll keep you updated!

It’s The Little Things

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Good Afternoon Readers,

Today’s article is all about ‘the little things’. Meaning, all the little things that I love about university since starting my journey. I’ll break this down into the first, second and third year and go from there. Hopefully, if you haven’t yet started university, these are things you can look forward to. If you’re already at university, these are things you can relate too.

First Year

  • The fact that no matter what time is was, even if it was 3 am, there would someone be awake to chill with if you couldn’t sleep.
  • There was always something going on in halls – either the good, the bad and the ugly.
  • It’s extremely sociable – if you want to be involved in that side of university.
  • Everyone not taking the first year seriously so you always find an excuse to not do work.
  • Beer gardens after lectures in the summer.
  • Christmas Dinner in halls with your flat and housemates.
  • Flat/House Parties.
  • The start of your lectures.
  • The new city and being able to explore and discover places.
  • Making new friends, some of which become lifelong friends.
  • The independence you feel – if you have been waiting for independence.
  • The feeling of a new chapter of your life beginning.
  • Going to SU events that can be so terrible, they are hilarious.

Second Year

  • Moving into a student house and experiencing having control over your own house.
  • The random events that happening the early hours of the morning.
  • Cooking for each other and bonding as a house (if you’re lucky).
  • House Parties.
  • Furthering your studying and learning more about your course.
  • Experiencing placement and putting the theory into practice.
  • Beer Gardens in the summer, always. Or in your house garden – if it’s nice.
  • Your first Christmas in the house and decorating the house.
  • Doing everything you definitely shouldn’t be doing in your house.
  • Learning to become a ‘handy-man’ and being able to ‘fix’ most things.
  • The continued feeling of independence.
  • Making new friends – basically feeling like family.

Third Year

  • For me, it was moving into a new student house.
  • Entering the final year of my course and being able to bring everything together.
  • Making new friends and continuing long term friendships.
  • Preparing for my future and planning the next step.
  • Christmas and Beer Gardens – that’s always going to be true.
  • Finding out your true friendships.
  • Really discovering yourself as a person and growing as a person.
  • Graduation and celebrating my achievements.
  • Wishing I was a first year all over again.
  • Making more memories that are going to last a lifetime.

As you can see, a lot of the things that I love cross over with each and every year – because some of them remain to be true. They always will be. University has been an experience and I’ve loved a lot of moments that have happened and some of them, I will cherish forever. Some of them I will miss. Unfortunately, university can’t last forever and I’d say it’s more ‘student life’ that I’m going to miss because student life is still so detached from real life. It’s like still having freedom but still not having freedom and you’re constantly stuck in that middle ground for all three years – or however long you’re in university.

There is probably a lot that I haven’t mentioned – because even though these are ‘little things’, there are probably even littler things that make up my life and that I love about university and student life – but, there are things that I do not really realise.

It’s cliche but you really should make the most of your time at university as it can be an amazing, freeing and life-changing experience – if you allow it. You can make friends for life, you can find the one you love, you can discover yourself and so on and so fourth. There is so much that can happen at university and it really can be amazing. It can be hard and stressful as I’ve covered before, but, this outweighed by the good. Always. Some people do not get on with the university experience and struggle and drop out and that’s fine, the lifestyle is not for everyone, but if it is for you, love it and live it. (Cliche again). Just enjoy your time.

Is Work Experience During Uni Actually Essential? | Beth Pembrook – Guest Writer

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If we’re all honest, work experience is often viewed as a bit of a waste of time by a lot of students. A simple tick of the CV rather than an actually life developing experience or gaining career insights. A week or two spent making cups of tea and sorting out filing cabinets that make young people dread working life rather than look forward to it!

A big question that hangs over the whole ‘work experience’ notion is, is it actually worth it? A tick on the CV and potentially improved job prospects aside, many students don’t actually think that they will gain much from in terms on knowledge while they are on placements.

Many of us heading into work experience placements tend to assume that we won’t be given particularly important jobs to do, or worry that we might be over-loaded with boring, mundane tasks.

However, work experience is definitely worthwhile in the current climate. Gone are the days of being sat for 8 hours a day sealing envelopes or fetching someone’s lunch for them! In recent years companies have started to use work experience placements to their advantage, meaning they now allow work experience candidates to do some real worthwhile tasks. This means that most placements will actually throw you in at the deep end and get you fully involved.

If you are not completely sure about what career path you want to take, then work experience is something that should definitely be considered. For a start, if nothing else, a work experience placement will give you a taste of what a standard working day is like. You’re likely to be treated like a temporarily employee in a professional environment and be given assignments just as if you were a fully-fledged employee there.

Also work experience gives you the opportunity to meet people in the field your studying in. You can ask them any burning questions you may have about your potential future job, and they can give you some top tips about how to get into a competitive job.

Placements aren’t just there to encourage you to do a job, but also to learn if a job isn’t for you. One of my friends at uni went on a hospital work experience placement in South East Asia and realised that her life-long dream on being a Doctor actually wasn’t for her when she started feeling increasingly nauseous around any blood! While she was gutted, and did enjoy here placement abroad, it saved her 8 years of training and studying for the wrong job. By the same token, another friend of mine undertook a work placement at a PR firm because it was the only one that accepted her. Despite being in an IT course at uni, she loved the work experience so much she decided to pursue a career in it!

You should be open to all opportunities that come your way at Uni. Sadly, having a degree doesn’t just been that you’ll get a job – you need to stand out from the crowd. If you do end up having a placement somewhere that is pointless – aka: glorified tea make – then so be it. It will still look good on your CV and you can just take another placement somewhere else!

Lee Carnihan – 5 Ways To Make Your Student House A Home…

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… without breaking the bank.

Your hard work has paid off and you’re on your way to university. While your social life is going to improve and you are sure to get an excellent education, living away from your parents for the first time could easily see a dip in other areas.

Up until now you have enjoyed creature comforts, cooking and laundry service that come with living in the family home. Suddenly you are on your own and you may well feel like you are out of your depth. When you arrive at your new digs, chances are the walls will be magnolia, the worn carpets will be showing the spills and scuffs of years of use.

The landlord is not there to make this an attractive place to live, that’s your job. Brand new carpets and curtains might be out of your budget and you may well be lacking the flair and inspiration of an interior designer, but don’t panic! Help is at hand.

Here are five ways to create a home from home on a small budget:

  1. A burst of colour

It is amazing what a transformative effect a splash of colour can have on a room. Simply repainting a single bedroom wall can create a fresh feeling that makes an otherwise cold space feel warm and homely. It is also quick, easy and much cheaper than redecorating the whole house.

As with any big changes to the house, it’s always worth getting in touch with the landlord first. Most will not object if your colour choices are tasteful. An added bonus is that a lick of paint will hide any marks or nail holes left in the walls by previous residents.

Feeling creative? Painting a section of wall with whiteboard paint is a great use of space for leaving notes memos and messages for yourself and your more forgetful housemates.

  1. Keep it in the family

If you have a lot of pictures from home, there is a very simple way to display them without taking up precious surface spaces. By looping a stretch of hessian cord around your walls and pegging up some photos, you can display all those pictures of your pets, friends and family very quickly and easily. If it is just a few very special photos you could arrange them on your wall or, if you prefer to avoid manual labour completely, simply allocate them a space on your desk.

  1. Pristine plants

Having plants in the home is always a good option. They bring colour and energy to any room and are a simple way to add style to a busy house. However, in a busy house it is not unusual for them to become neglected. If you don’t have the time for watering, pruning and re-potting between lectures, essays and parties, it might be worth considering another option.

Pick up some affordable artificial plants and you will be amazed by the number of people who can’t tell the difference. They look great all year round and only require quick dusting now and then to maintain their no so natural beauty.

  1. Create your own style

Another great way to fill in bare walls are posters and pictures. Quicker and easier than painting, it will hide any blemishes just as effectively. Canvases, framed pictures and even postcards dotted around will instantly bring personality to any space with minimal effort.

A very cost effective way to construct an interesting display is to collect some wallpaper samples with attractive designs and frame them, giving you a quirky take on a feature wall at a fraction of the cost. Samples can also be used to bring tired furniture back to life.

Wall transfers have become increasingly popular way to decorate a student house. A quick search on Pinterest will turn up all kinds of ideas and very soon your room could be encircled by a forest or city skyline. The best thing about transfers is they are easy to remove so committing to one design is never an issue.

  1. Hide what you can’t fix

Chances are the chairs and sofa in your new student digs will be older than you are. It’s not worth worrying about what they have gone through to earn those tatty corners and worn out covers. After giving it a quick clean, all your sofa will need is a charming throw and a few cushions to restore its former glory.

Similarly, threadbare carpets merely need a colourful rug strategically placed over the worst parts and you can spare your guests the horror of what lies beneath.

You really don’t need to spend a lot of money to turn your student accommodation into a home. With a few simple purchases and some creative thinking, you can transform the whole house and hide those well-worn blemishes.

Lee Carnihan | Secret Santa for Cash-Strapped Students

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Christmas presents.jpg

By the time Christmas comes around you will have spent months away from home and settled into the strange dynamic of sharing your living space with several similarly hungover and poor house mates. There are so many great things about being a student but Christmas is right at the top. It’s a great excuse to let go, relax and throw a series of spontaneous parties with your house mates.

Sure, this group aren’t perfect but they are your new family. Working with them to decorate the house on a shoestring budget is sure to be a great laugh. Well, until you come home with a box of faulty fairy lights from the pound shop.

Once the decorations are up and lectures are coming to an end there is the difficult situation of deciding who will get presents begins. It’s too expensive to buy for everyone but it could make things difficult if you just buy for your closest friends and leave someone out, so why not instigate a house Secret Santa? This way there is a set budget, everyone gets a present and you only need to buy one! Perfect!

Of course, in any group there will be some people you like more than others. At this time of year, you can get away with practical jokes in the name of Christmas spirit, so why not take this chance to get your own back on anyone who has wronged you with a joke gift? Just don’t forget to record it so you and the rest of your house mates can laugh at their shocked expression over and over again!

Secret Santa may sound like a cheap way to buy gifts for everyone but it can add up very quickly. By keeping these simple pointers in mind, you will be able to dazzle your house mates with amazing gifts and still have some cash left for New Year’s Eve.

Try not to go crazy

Set a price limit that everyone can afford. A fiver? A tenner? Whatever it is, make sure you’re all ok with that. Yes, it might be the season of goodwill, but you don’t have Bill Gate’s fortune to plunder.

Always re-gift if you get the opportunity

At some point in your life, you’ve probably received a present that you’ve never liked or used, which is why the art of re-wrapping is so handy. As long as the present is in a really good condition (preferably unused) you’re good to go.

So the only thing you’ll have to buy is the wrapping paper, and a card if you’re feeling generous. Just make sure you don’t give the re-wrapped present to the same person who gave it to you originally! That would be awkward, especially if you gave it to the awkward person you don’t get on with.

Give everyone a chance

Get everyone in the house involved, even if it is that one housemate who never seems to leave their room. Knock on their door, introduce yourself (just in case they’ve forgotten who you are even though you’ve been living together for three months) and say; “Hi, I know we haven’t officially met – I think we may have bumped into each other at one point going to the bathroom – but did you want to play Secret Santa?”

Even if they don’t want to play, at least you’ve finally met the ‘other’ house mate. Congrats! Your housemates will be proud of your bravery. Getting everyone involved makes the game much more interesting, and you’ll avoid feeling bad if anyone were accidentally (or on purpose) left out.

Keep it simple

Some people are against buying generic gifts like a pack of scented shower gels or a mix and match makeup kit, but for a student it’s perfectly acceptable. You can never go wrong with buying gifts like these, and not only are they an easy purchase, they’re also worth the money and you can find some cracking bargains.

If you want to get something just a little bit different but still practical, grab a bar of luxury hand-made organic soap. They smell delicious and can even make a subtle point to the person in the house who doesn’t always like to wash as frequently as everyone else!

Never leave it late

Try not to forget about actually buying a gift, otherwise you’ll find yourself in a moment of panic, frantically trying to find something last minute to give them. Giving them a packet of crisps or a pack of jam donuts might seem like a great and useful “gift” but frankly, it’s a bit rubbish and thoughtless. You might be skint and this might be Secret Santa, but there are limits to how low you can go! So don’t leave it until the last minute (you’ve probably heard that from your lecturer plenty of times).

The more the merrier

You may have had a great time with your house mates but don’t forget to include your actual family. They may have been in the background recently but they are just as important to buy for, especially if you aren’t seeing very much of them, so make sure to save some space in your budget to get them something nice. It can also work in your favour; it softens the blow if you have a gift in one hand when you return home with bag of dirty washing in the other. If you have enough money spare, buying one final Secret Santa gift for dad is a great idea. It can be silly and funny or useful from somewhere like Hawkin’s Bazaar and it doesn’t have to be especially expensive. Meanwhile, a simple box of chocolates, some flowers or a bottle of wine will keep mum very happy.

Top Tips Every Student Should Know When Buying A Car – Lee Carnihan (Guest Writer)

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Getting to uni is one thing, getting around is another entirely. Wherever uni is for you, you’ll need to get from home to uni, to the supermarket, to the pub, to the gym and all manner of other places during term time.

You might want to dart back home for a weekend of “mum’s cooking” too, or head off to the beach with your house mates on Bank Holiday Monday. Yes, you can get around by foot, bike, unicycle, pogo-stick, skateboard, tube, tram and bus – but they won’t give you the flexibility a car will.

Having a car basically makes everything much easier. Chief among the benefits is not having to ‘borrow’ trolleys to get the shopping back on a cold, wet, dark and windy night after a long day in the lecture hall. So unless you’re extremely lucky because you live right next to a supermarket, you’re going to need a car.

But money will be tight and you might have no idea about what kind of car to buy for your budget. You’ll want something affordable, but not so cheap it breaks down frequently and costs you even more to fix or leaves you stranded in the car park with six heavy bags of shopping with chilled or frozen food rapidly defrosting.

MG classic car.jpg

So here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind when you’re looking to buy a car:

1 Stick with “old reliable”

The newer the car, the more expensive both the car and insurance is likely to be, so you’re better off looking at slightly older cars like an early 2000s Vauxhall Corsa, or a 2008 Fiat 500. Both cars are reliable, great for long distance driving, and fairly cheap.

If you’re a fan of the classics but you’re worried about the general up-keep of the car and insurance, you should go for a relatively newer classic like an Austin Mini. Depending on your definition of a ‘classic car’, classic Minis can range from early 60s to late 90s, so you’ve got a lot of choice.

Surprisingly, these quaint old cars are great for long distance travel, which makes things so much easier when you’re wanting to travel home from Uni for the weekend.

Minis are extremely reliable, and owning a classic car such as this, might mean that you’re eligible for classic car insurance instead of standard car insurance. The way the value of a classic is determined is different, so you might get better value.

2 Inspect the car and ask to drive it 

When you’re viewing a car, always ask if the car has had any major damage or other significant repairs, which should all be detailed in the log book. Look over the general condition of the car for rust, oil leaks, scratches, bumps, dents and differences in paintwork on different parts of the car. Anything like this will put the price down if you ever want to sell the car on.

And if you have absolutely no clue about what you’re looking for, take someone who does! Another perspective is always helpful.

Ask to take a test drive, even if they want to accompany you and your friend: listen out for splutters and chokes and feel the biting point: where the clutch engages and disengages when you change gear. Get out and look at the exhaust too. If it’s black, blue or grey, it could be a sign the engine is burning oil, too much fuel or has some other problem.

If you’re unsure, walk away. There is no shortage of second hand cars out there.

3 Where to buy and how

Choosing where to buy a car can be a bit of a challenge, so here are some pros and cons to help you:

Auctions

Pros: Cheaper than buying from a garage and you may end up with an absolute bargain.

Cons: Cars are sold as seen which means no test drives allowed. You’re not guaranteed a warranty so if you end up purchasing a classic, like a Triumph Herald for example, but it doesn’t start or there is something seriously wrong with it, then too bad. If the car has serious issues and you’re not willing to pay more money to get it fixed, then you’re only option will be to put it back into the auction and hope wholeheartedly that it’ll sell again.

Garages

Pros: One of the safest ways to go about buying a car. This is because any registered noted dealer is required by law to supply the car with a warranty, and the car must be fully road legal. When buying from a garage there is always room for negotiation.

Cons: Usually more expensive than buying from a private seller or buying from an auction.

Private

Pros: Cheaper than buying from a garage. Again, there is always room for negotiation, especially if the seller is eager to sell the car quickly.

Cons: You’re not guaranteed a warranty when dealing with a private seller. So if there is something wrong with the car, you have very little comeback.

Online

Pros: Official online dealers are covered by trading standards, so you’ll be guaranteed a warranty.

Cons: Private online sellers are not covered by trading standards, so you’re not guaranteed a warranty. With all online dealers or sellers, make sure you do some research and ask about warranties.

At the end of the day…

Choose a car with a relatively small engine because they’re cheaper to buy and insure and the running costs are usually lower. If you “do your homework” – sorry if you thought you’d heard the last of that phrase – you’re more likely to get a good car for a fair price.

I’VE BEEN FEATURED!

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Fantastic news, today is a brilliant day! 

It all begins with this…

bellvue-student-blogger.png

“Why that little square?” I hear you ask! Well my lovely readers and supporters, as that square reads, I’ve been added to a list of ‘top student bloggers’!

There I was, sitting at my desk after starting back lectures today. I was starting to look at everything I have to do very soon and then up pops this email!

This email told me “Congratulations!” and that I’d been featured in an article called “33 Of The Best Student Blogs To Follow In 2016” and guess what? You can read it here!

It may not seem a lot to some people but for once, this wasn’t a website where I’ve been asked to be put on there. This is an individual website reading my work and believing I was good enough to be featured on their list with the content I provide and for me, after a couple of years of work, it’s so nice to finally be recognised and I really appreciate it.

Thank you so much to all my readers and supports over the years and I hope you, my lovely people, keep growing and growing! Expect much more content in the next year and for a very special Student Giveaway very, very soon (probably today at some point) and win yourself some goodies!

Again thank you to BellVue Students and it just goes to show what a little student with a computer and the passion to write can achieve, this is huge for me and just goes to show why students should blog!

7 Steps to Successful House Shares : Lee Carnihan (Guest Writer)

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Please welcome Lee Carnihan, the first Guest Writer of 2016 – rebooting this small section of my website. Here, Lee writes about seven successful steps to surviving a house share at university!

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7 steps to successful student house shares!

Moving out of halls of residence into a shared house should be full of fun. You’ll breathe a sigh of relief after swapping restrictive rules for true independence and have the chance to make the house feel more like your own. It’s no wonder that during term-time, 38% of university students choose to live in a privately rented house or flat.

However, for every brilliant outcome, there are plenty of pitfalls too. Everyone’s heard the horror stories of vile landlords screwing students over on their deposit while they freeze in mouldy, mice-ridden rooms. Or what about the best friend who suddenly turns into the housemate from hell because of their terrible hygiene and insistence on urinating directly out of their bedroom window? It’s nearly enough to make you put your name down for an extra year in halls.

When you have a degree or post-grad course to study for, and possibly a part-time job to hold-down too, then it really is vital that you have a homely place for study, rest, relaxation, romance and friendships. The last thing you need is for it to cause you undue stress.

Luckily, a little planning and thought is all it takes to avoid most major hiccups in shared rental accommodation. Here’s how to enjoy it and make it work:

1 Before you sign on the dotted line, do your homework

Firstly, consider the worst case scenarios and take a couple of steps to prevent them from happening. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau is often the place people end up when in crisis with a litigious landlord or a dispute with housemates over unpaid bills or theft or damage of personal belongings.

You can be one step ahead by reading their guide to the different rental agreements. This explains the best ways of setting up a sharing arrangement ensuring, for example, that if a housemate fails to pay the rent it doesn’t jeopardise your position or make you accountable for the unpaid share.

2 Love your landlord (well, sort of)

They aren’t all bad, honest! But the quickest way to get on the wrong side of yours is to make late payments, upset the neighbours or sublet the property without permission. The Studentastic website explains the intricacies of subletting if this is a money-saving route you want or need to consider.

You’ll also need to take reasonable care with the place – easier said than done, for sure, as you won’t always have control over who visits. As long as you have not damaged the property (beyond normal wear and tear) you are entitled to your deposit back – it is your money after all. You can increase the chances of this going smoothly by double-checking your money has been put in a Deposit Protection Scheme, taking photos of the property when you move in and agreeing an inventory of items. This will protect you in case of any disagreement.

It can work both ways too. If you are a good tenant, the landlord will look after you and fix any problems quickly, although how quickly can vary from landlord to landlord especially if they have multiple properties and dozens of tenants to attend to. Indeed, many landlords are happy to negotiate cheaper rent if you won’t be using the property over the summer months – this is ideal if you plan to enjoy home comforts and get mum to deal with that massive bag of dirty laundry.

Alternatively, you might want to stay put and enjoy your digs without your housemates under foot. Whatever your preference, make sure you know what the deal is regarding out-of-term rent before you sign the contract.  Having to pay an extra month or two’s rent isn’t a shock you want just before you leave for the holidays or if your finances are already stretched to the limit.

3 Make it your own

It actually takes very little effort to make a place feel welcoming and cosy, rather than anonymous and boring. Try shopping for household items, such as cushions, bed linen and small items of furniture in the sales and on eBay or Gumtree. Parents and grandparents are often delighted to chip in and buy practical items too. They will make the transition easier because there’s nothing worse than moving to a new house in a new town without your creature comforts in place. Plus, if you end up in unfurnished accommodation after university, you’ll have bought the basics already.

4 Travel and storing your stuff out of term

There’s no need to be put off accumulating items by the dread of dragging them all home in the holidays, either by car or even worse, public transport. Storing your possessions is the sensible option, and absolutely vital for those with lots of stuff or an international journey ahead. There are plenty of good storage providers out there.

Similarly, if you’re planning a year abroad as part of your course – or a gap year travelling – then storing your stuff will be vital. Once your parents have sent you off to uni, they won’t be too impressed if you arrive on the doorstep at the end of term with all your clobber only for you to jet off and leave them to store it.

Deciding what to do with personal possessions is particularly important if you’re an international student because you might not know whether you’ll be staying in the UK after your degree. The existing rules are still supposed to be in play but who knows what might happen in the next six months after the Brexit vote. So placing everything in secure storage will buy you time, and your things can easily be sent abroad if needed.

5 House rules rule the house

Getting on with your housemates is a big deal. It can make or break your experience of uni. We’ve all come from different backgrounds with our own idea of what “normal” is. One man’s meat is another man’s poison, so the saying goes. It’s well worth sitting down with future housemates and checking you all agree, although “house-mate meetings” themselves can be a bone of contention: these are meant to be your wild and free years after all. But if things really aren’t working out, avoid passive aggressive behaviour at all costs if you can because it just leads to resentment and misunderstandings. If you suddenly notice lots of post-it notes with a dozen angry exclamation marks appearing on stacks of dirty plates or the fridge door, it’s time to get the kettle on and have a proper chat.

6 Running riot

One of the pleasures and pains of student shares is of course the parties. Chances are you will have at least one, but make sure all housemates are informed and involved and avoid key exam or assignment deadline dates for each other. It’s no fun pulling an all-nighter at the computer when everyone else is having raucous fun through paper-thin walls. Being a student isn’t about losing respect for other people and ignoring their needs, it’s about finding yourself and enjoying the ride but not at someone else’s expense.

7 Uninvited lovers

Chat about partners too. You may all start off single but after that legendary party… The quickest way to annoy your housemates (and potentially your landlord too) is for your partner to become an unofficial, free-loading member of the household. It’s all about being upfront and deciding what is reasonable in advance of an issue.

Now you’ve got the serious stuff out of the way, you can focus on enjoying yourself… and working out how to solve the ultimate of First World problems…who keeps stealing your hummus?

Don’t forget, if you want to get involved and be a Guest Writer for my  blog – head over to this page for more information.

Guest Writers: Smoko / Stop Smoking While Attending University

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Smoko approached me asking if they could provide an article for the website to talk about cutting down on smoking at university and also saving yourself a little money with their company and their e-cigs. Welcome their article!

Stop Smoking While Attending University

Student life is the time to really enjoy – make new friends, explore new horizons, squeeze in as many parties as possible, all while trying to get your degree! However, when you attend university, your tuition expenses coupled with costs for room and board, study material, food, etc. usually add up to an exorbitant amount.

Smart Money-Saving Tips

That is why you need to come up with innovative ways to stretch your money instead of spending recklessly and barely scraping till the end of the month. There are several ways to put some extra cash aside to ensure you don’t have to struggle and also enjoy your uni experience. Here are a few tips:

  • Curb all impulse buys.
  • Limit the number of take-aways.
  • Cut down on smoking or switch to an alternative like electronic cigarettes.
  • Flatshare – spread the cost of your living expenses.
  • Buy 2ndhand books and don’t buy school supplies you don’t need.
  • Opt for generic items instead of branded ones.
  • Use Student discounts when you can

Out of all these, smoking and drinking are perhaps the costliest and most difficult habits to quit. Even if you continue to indulge in the occasional drink at parties, smoking can be given a miss. Here’s how it affects you:

Health

Constantly puffing on cigarettes give you bad breath and that lingering smell on your clothes. Heart attacks and strokes re occurring frequently among university goers these days, and one of the common reasons is excessive smoking that clogs the arteries. Gum and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is yet another side effect of smoking. It can also increase the risk of throat, mouth, and lung cancer later in life. Women should be even more cautious as it can impact them later as it boosts the chances of miscarriage, cervical cancer, and complications during pregnancy and delivery.

Finances

If a pack of cigarettes cost £9, you could be spending up to £270 every month.  That’s a lot of money that could be spent down at the pub.  By switching to an electronic cigarette can save approximately £210 in a month!!  After 4 years of uni, the money that you save using e-cigarettes could put £10,000 towards an amazing uni experience.  Or even paying off your student loan.

We understand it is difficult!

Yes, it is easier said than done. If all your mates are still lighting up, it can be hard to say no.  But the growing trend is to switch to e-cigarettes or to quit altogether.  Student life is definitely about having fun and living life to the fullest, but it doesn’t mean you have to burn all your extra disposable cash on cigarettes.

To save money, please try to use student discount vouchers or coupons, and shop from student-friendly places where they offer great deals on food and groceries if you show them the university ID. You might be able to save big on books as well.

So enjoy the experience, spend wisely, socialize like crazy and look for ways to do things differently.

This is an article provided by Smoko, a premium provider of e-cigarettes and e-liquids.

For more information please visit: www.smoko.com and to get your e-cig starter pack visit: www.smoko.com/e-cigarette-starter-kits/