Friday, 20 June 2014

University #3: Making The Most Of Your Summer

This list could be endless, and I’ve deliberately avoided the social things (ie, try to see your friends from home as much as possible, go on trips either exploring the country or a different part of the world) in favour of more practical advice.

  •  If you can, get a job. You’ll need all the money you can get. Living on your own is more expensive than you can imagine. Work out now how much your loan will cover – for me it doesn’t even cover rent. If your parents can’t afford to cover all the extra cost, or, like me, they are happy to put some money towards your living costs but cannot cover the whole thing, you’ll need some extra money to keep you out of your overdraft. If you can get a job which will let you have a flexible or zero hours contract during university term time, go for it. Money in the holidays is always much needed. My job wouldn’t let me stay on a zero hour contract, but luckily I found a job once I was at university, and I honestly don’t know what I would do without one.
  •  Check your emails – particularly if you have access to your university email account. Check your junk box too. This is where you’ll be updated on your timetable, any reading lists, accommodation issue, any module choices you may have to make (very important), anything you may need to know will come via email. Obviously you don’t have to check it everyday, but once or twice a week is a good idea.
  •  Start to get the hang of your universities online service. Portal, Blackboard – as soon as you get the email to set up your account start to play around with things and find out how to use it. My university didn’t tell me my timetable was up on blackboard – I had to find out from a friend on the first day. They don’t hold your hand through this process, its very much a dive in at the deep end situation.
  •   Learn how to cook good, healthy, meals on the hob. Most self-catered universities won’t have traditional ovens, some don’t even have microwaves which double as convection ovens, so practice some good, well rounded meals. Accompany who ever does the shopping to start to get an idea of costs, or if you shop online do a dummy shop for the week and see how much the total comes to. If your parent(s)/guardian(s) are happy for you to do so, plan meals for a week, do the shop, and cook for either yourself or the family for the week. I think my next university post (in a fortnights time) will be recipes for easy and cheap hob cooked meals, so if you’re unsure of what sort of things are viable to cook you can wait for that.
  •  Find out specific course requirements. If you’re on an English Literature course, you can check out my post last week about what to do over the summer (although it can be summed up in one word: read). If you’re on a science-style course, it might be an idea to keep checking over your notes from A Level and make yourself mock tests very couple of weeks to keep you up to date on your stuff - particularly if you’ve taken a gap year: it’s amazing the things you forget doing either a) doing a mind numbing job or b) going traveling. On an art course? Practise – do as much art as you can and keep a sketch/scrapbook. History? Read books on eras you either enjoy or don’t know much about. Social science or media? Keep up to date with current affairs. There are things you can do to keep your brain ticking over for every subject.
  •  Start up a fitness regime which you’ll be able to keep up at university. Unless you don’t drink, always get a good night’s sleep and eat really well, chances are you won’t make it through university without a deterioration in your health. Check out your universities gym facilities and costs and work out if it’s financially viable to start a routine based around gym classes or activities. If it isn’t, try free activities, like YouTube based workout routines, yoga/pilates, or running outside. Most university courses are sedentary, so it’s a good idea to keep your physical health in check. This isn’t about losing weight (quite a few people I know have lost weight from under-eating at uni due to financial strain, although the majority gained weight by drinking, and both are equally bad for you).
  •  Keep your room tidy over the summer. The worst thing about university is the room size – most are tiny – which means they get messy really quickly. If you can keep your room at home tidy, which will have possessions from nearly 19 years of your life, then you can keep your uni room clean with only necessary items. Your room will be where you do the majority of your work (unless you want to go to and from the library each time you fancy a snack), so you’ll want a clean environment to work in.

That’s about it! If you’re a uni student and think I’ve missed anything, please leave a comment or tweet me @VickiMaitland. Next time (if all goes to plan) I’ll be posting some recipes ideas for cheap, healthy, hob cooked meals.

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