Lifestyle

University Challenge Part 2

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Yesterday, you may have seen my blog post University Challenge (if not, here it is!), in which I asked Rach, one of my all time favourite bloggers whose blog can be found here, 10 questions for advice on University life. Hopefully these questions will be helpful to anyone at any stage of their university career!

In return, I was asked 10 questions and am here now to answer them – so hello to anyone who’s come looking for the answers! My 10 questions to answer were:

1. What would you advise when choosing a university location? 

2. What is your one essential item that you would recommend any student to take to university?

3. Do you think it’s important to do extra things on top of your degree?

4. What would you advise when making friends at uni? 

5. What advice would you give to anyone choosing a course at university? 

6. What advice would you give to anyone worrying about the costs of going to uni? 

7. How would you advice on keeping track of money through uni?

8. Do you think it’s important to move into a student house instead of uni accommodation? 

9. What was your favourite experience of uni? 

10. If you could offer one overall piece of advice, what would it be? 

So here goes answering them!

1. What would you advise when choosing a university location? 

The main thing I would advise would be to not restrict yourself in any way. A lot of my friends from school chose to apply to our 2 universities in Northern Ireland simply because they didn’t want to have larger tuition fees or face the prospect of fully moving away from the support system they had in their family and friendship group. Secondly, and I can’t stress this enough, have a good proper look at the university and its surrounding areas. I personally feel I hit the jackpot with University of Glasgow. We’re close enough to the city centre that I can be there in 10 minutes if I feel like a day in town, but I also live 5 minutes away from the Botanical Gardens. Location means a lot to different people. The final thing I factored into my choices 3 years ago (wow I feel old thinking its been 3 years since I started looking at universities…) was how easy would it be to get home if there was some reason to rush. Whilst I loved the look of some universities in England, and their courses looked fantastic, I realised just how long it would take me to get back if ever I was needed home quickly.

2. What is your one essential item that you would recommend any student to take to university?

This one is tricky, I can’t think of just the one! First thing that came into my head was speakers. No matter who you are or what your hobbies are, having a set of speakers (even cheap ones from the pound shop) will be a great thing to remember when packing. All those flat parties you’ll be having during fresher’s week will need some background music, not to mention when exam time comes and you need to blast those revision playlists that will get you through the torture that is university study leave. 

I would also strongly recommend bringing one decent sized pot/pan to cook a large meal in. It became quite a common thing to find me in the kitchen, cooking enough food to feed a small army. It sometimes works out cheaper to buy in bulk and so it made sense to cook it and freeze what I didn’t want immediately.

Finally, I would recommend a warm dressing gown or onesie. Fire alarms will go off at any stage and you don’t want to find yourself standing outside in the snow at 3am on a Saturday morning in January because some idiot thought it would be a good idea to allow their friends to smoke in their room. Not that I had any experience of this last year, of course not… But these are also great if you’re in a student flat where the likelihood is you will be freezing the majority of the time. Unless you’re super rich. In which case, please be my best friend!

3. Do you think it’s important to do extra things on top of your degree?

Last year, I didn’t. I was in a great set of halls and knew at least 20 people so never had the need to be out meeting new people or doing something different. But this year I signed up to whatever I could, having missed the society fair during fresher’s week. Clubs and societies are a great way to make new friends (so cliché I know but stay with me) and they’re also good to help you find out what it is you actually enjoy doing. If clubs and societies aren’t your sort of thing, and you hate the idea of anything sporty so avoid the gym like the plague, then I still recommend finding something to do on top of your degree. All work and no play makes life dull and you’ll probably end up regretting this when your dissertation is done and you’ve got one exam left to sit. 

4. What would you advise when making friends at uni? 

Like above, I would advise clubs and societies. The first friend I made in halls, I stopped speaking to a month later. But she introduced me to kitchen 14 and the wonderful people who were assigned there. Be yourself as much as you can be. It’s a whole new experience and if someone doesn’t like you for you then you don’t have to know them! This was one fact I forgot when I first started to open up to people but now it’s the mantra I hold on to when I meet new people. Be honest with yourself and talk to as many or as few people as you want, someone somewhere along the line will introduce you to more and more people and bam! You end up on a group chat with 29 other people and a chat name that no one remembers creating but you don’t want to change it. 

5. What advice would you give to anyone choosing a course at university? 

This is tough, simply because I don’t enjoy my course. Which actually leads me to the first and most important point of this question and answer – pick something you actually enjoy and want to spend your time doing! Yes, it might cross your mind to consider life after university but jobs these days are mainly looking for those transferable skills. Employers don’t care if you did Physics or Archaeology, all they want to know is whether you can work in a team to solve problems in the workplace. So yeas, consider job prospects but don’t let it cloud your judgement. Before finally deciding on the course you think you want, have a look around at the syllabus for the course in different universities. This will give you an idea of what is actually involved in your course and what it is you’ll be doing for the next 3+ years of your life.

6. What advice would you give to anyone worrying about the costs of going to uni? 

Simply: don’t. I know it’s easier said than done but worrying is just going to make the whole experience worse for you. We all know the faults of the loan systems – judged on parental income, rarely covers rent never mind actually living, and the overall problem of paying it all back when you eventually leave (forever student anyone?). Many universities now have hardship bursaries that you don’t have to pay back, along with other bursaries, grants, scholarships and incentives. I know of a girl on my course who got £250 for being one of the best in the year! If you find yourself short of cash, there will always be somewhere hiring students, even if only over summer months. Make yourself a clear budget plan and stick to it, even if it does mean turning down that invite out to the new cool club night happening. There will be other nights, and your bank account will be very grateful. The final bit of advice towards money and costs of uni would be to not blow your student loan the day it comes in. It’s so tempting when you see it sitting there to start buying everything around you, heck I used mine to book a trip to Paris! But you will seriously regret it when you check your balance and find yourself with £30 left for the rest of the month. 

7. How would you advice on keeping track of money through uni?

Budgeting is key. At the beginning of the year, I sit down and figure out how much money I have and what it has to cover before I consider food etc. Firstly subtract rent for whatever months you need to pay. Remember to include any bills in this too! For example, if in September you have£3000 to last you until January 18th, the likelihood is you have 4 months of rent to pay using that money. Remember to include the bills for these months too, so we’ll estimate that you have roughly £1200 left. Divide this by the number of weeks this has to last you, taking at least £100 out for travelling home for Christmas. On average, this would mean you have £60 a week (rounding down). My technique this year was to lift that £60 out of the bank on a Sunday morning before my food shop and then I wasn’t allowed to use my card the rest of the week. If I used it, I had to take the cash out of my purse and lodge it into the bank on a Saturday. It’s so much easier to keep track of what you’re spending if you have to physically hand over money every time you go to a shop. 

To help your budget out during the week, I would recommend meal plans, even if only rough ones. Make a list of what you need to buy and stick to your list. Don’t let the lovely snacks and offers tempt you, unless you’re willing to sacrifice something else that week. Head to the shops later in the day, that’s when the stuff begins to be reduced and the majority of it can be shoved in the freezer! Mary managed to buy a lasagne down from £3.50 to 69p the other night on her way home from work. You can’t even make a lasagne that cheap if you’re making it yourself!

8. Do you think it’s important to move into a student house instead of uni accommodation? 

For first year, I would strongly recommend university accommodation. It’s the easiest way to meet people and you actually end up looking forward to hunting for a flat. However, after first year I fully believe it’s your own decision what you want to do. The majority of the time, a student house is going to work out cheaper than staying in uni halls. However, most contracts are 12 months long and you end up paying for months you aren’t living there. Another thing to remember is that it’s important to get along with the people you move in with if you plan on going into a student house. This way you know if you’ll have any problems and you can address them up front – Mary and Nuala sat Jason and me down to discuss their thoughts on if they shared with us, just small things like cleaning rotas and the likes. University accommodation means you might not get this option of vetting the other people and so you may have problems. Personally, moving into a student flat was great for me. With fewer people around, I actually got work done this year and didn’t just sit in a kitchen, eating and drinking.

9. What was your favourite experience of uni? 

I’m not sure! From this year, I would definitely have to say my flat Christmas dinner. I started cooking at 10am and so decided it was a good idea to start drinking at the same time. By the time I served the starter at 5pm, I was quite drunk and in a great mood! We exchanged Secret Santa presents at the table and played games between courses, finally going to bed at midnight after 5 or 6 courses of food. That was the night I realised just how lucky I was in finding these 3 flatmates and for that reason alone I will always look back on that night as one of my favourite experiences at uni. Plus, who else can say they cooked a turkey almost perfectly on their first try in an oven that can’t even cook a pizza easily?!

10. If you could offer one overall piece of advice, what would it be? 

My one piece of advice… Hmm… I would definitely have to say – be yourself and enjoy the experience. Forget about any money problems, they’ll sort themselves. Disagreements and falling outs will happen, but they’ll be patched up again quickly if they’re meant to be. But don’t let anyone make you feel bad for being yourself. We only have a short amount of time to truly figure out who we are and what it is we enjoy while being independent, before the world starts to turn faster and we have to become responsible adults. Two of my 4 years at university are over, the time has flown by. So go to lectures, make friends, explore your freedom and, most importantly, don’t ever regret the way your life is planning out – we’re young. We’re meant to make mistakes. Let’s make them now while we’re still young enough to fix them!

I hope this has answered some of the questions you may find yourself asking during the whole university thing. Remember to check out thelifeofaonesiewearer.wordpress.com for the answers to my questions! Once they’re posted, I’ll combing all 20 questions and answers in the one post for anyone who wants to read through them.

Hope you’re all well! My summary of the week will be live soon, before I say good bye to you all while I’m in Paris! Follow me on Twitter (@kvburton657), Instagram (ktkinnes), or add me on Snapchat (katiekinnes) to keep up to date while I’m away in the land of cheese, bread and wine, not to mention Disneyland Paris!

Ktkinnes xx

4 thoughts on “University Challenge Part 2

  1. Yay! This is so awesome!! Sorry if my questions were too hard haha. Some amazing answers though, I shall be getting on with mine today ☺️
    Hopefully these will help some people!! 🙌🏼😃 xx

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