Being a student is great fun as everybody is well aware. It’s often your first opportunity to go it alone without the need for your parents or family to be there for you 24/7, but it can also be a time of your life where having them on the end of the phone can be highly beneficial. Throughout your time at University you’re going to be faced with all kinds of challenges from the initial struggles to settle in to your strange surroundings with flat mates who might have different feelings towards household cleanliness to yours; and then you have issues relating to the course you have chosen, the various deadlines and of course, how to make your money last.
This is one of the biggest problems faced by students throughout University life as it can be very tempting to head out during your periods of downtime and go shopping in the city centre, indulge in all of the crisps your parents wouldn’t let you buy and, of course, see who is around in the Student Union. While this is highly beneficial from a social standpoint, helping you to make new friends and relax away from your studies, essays and coursework; it doesn’t exactly help the bank balance and before long you’re sitting in your flat on your own after the day’s lectures or while your flat mates are all out because you haven’t got any money, leaving you well and truly bored.
It doesn’t have to be this way if you learn to budget properly early on, and it’s more often the case that you have more downtime in your second year because your workload decreases slightly between the initial year of settling into a routine and the final year of grafting! However, if you do find yourself bored there are a few things you can do to help relieve the boredom without necessarily ending up out of pocket (or with a hangover the next day).
- Get ahead. Okay, being a student is about having fun as well as studying, but there is no harm in stealing a march on your course and reading through your textbooks and lesson plans so that you’re up to speed when that particular topic comes up in your lectures. If you know you’re likely to have to write an essay soon, start planning out what materials you’ll need, what research will need to be done and the content so that it’s not one big rush as the deadline looms.
- Join a society. Throughout Fresher’s Week you will have the opportunity to sign up for various clubs and societies. Some will be instant enrollments, some will require trials (in the case of sports teams), but there is usually something for everyone to get involved in. Getting your name on the list early on will ensure that you’ve nearly always got some form of activity to be doing during the week, even in the evenings and weekends.
- Films. Movies are a great way to socialise with your flatmates and friends without even having to leave the flat. There’s likely to be at least four of you in the flat and the chances are that you’ll all have your own preferences and plenty of DVDs with you anyway or subscriptions to online streaming sites. This isn’t just a good way of killing some time together – or on your own – but a great way of watching something a bit different if you all take it in turns. You might be able to go to one flat mate’s room and watch Bollywood movies on ErosNow.com and then the week after you could watch a romcom on DVD and the next something more macho on Netflix.
- Make some money. We’ve already discussed the fact that students struggle to maintain their finances, and without having to run to the Bank of Mum and Dad every few weeks, finding a way of making some money can be beneficial financially and recreationally. You could find yourself a part time job on campus or in the city somewhere which will bring in some money and improve your CV – especially if it’s linked in any way to your course; or you could do some freelance work based around your preferred industry to gain some experience. For a student studying journalism, for example, you might offer to write some articles for a local magazine or newspaper for a small fee or an attribution that you can add to your portfolio. If nothing else, the money you make will enable you to go to the next big student night.
- Maintain the flat. At the end of your tenancy agreement your flat will be checked over by the landlord(s). If they feel as though things have been damaged or gone missing (furniture, cutlery, crockery, etc), then they could withhold some of your deposit to cover the repairs or replacements. If you’re a whizz with a screwdriver or value your surroundings in any way, give the flat a once over with a hoover and make any repairs that you are capable of doing on your own so that you get as much of your deposit back as possible come the end of the semester.