Second Year Room Tour!

Hellooo!! At the beginning of September I moved into my new student house that I’ll be living in for my second year at uni. I’ve been gradually accumulating more and more decorations over the past move on so and making my room feel more homely. Somehow I managed to do all my reading for next weeks seminars yesterday so as I don’t have a lot to do today (and the sun is actually out for once!!) I thought I’d do a room tour!

My room is a bit of an odd layout as it has a corridor leading into it, so I thought I’d start off with my bed. I have a double bed again this year which I love as I can use all my bedding from last year. On one side of my bed is my chest of drawers which has an assortment of ornaments on top and my wire grid memo board which I’ve decorated with some fairy lights and some photos from over the summer. I’ll probably add to this over the year. Above my bed I have a world map poster and then on the other side of my bed is y bedside cabinet which I keep my Himalayan salt lamp on and my books, glasses case etc.

Round the corner from my bed are my windows. I keep my spider plant, cacti and basil plant on my windowsill and they seem to like it there as they’ve grown a lot since I moved in!

On the wall opposite my bed there are three doors. The middle one is my en suite bathroom and the other two are big cupboards, on of which I use as a wardrobe and the other as a general storage cupboard. I’ve also got a bookcase, mirror and tall cabinet on this wall which I use to store my folders, text books and other random things. I’ve also strung up a load of photos along the top of this wall which I love as I did a similar thing in halls last year.

Then finally there’s my desk area. I used the notice board above my desk to make a collage of some photos, paintings and drawings I’ve done and random things like train and concert tickets. I love how big my desk is this year, the only annoying this is it doesn’t get much light as I have my back to the window when I’m working, but it’s fine!

So that’s pretty much my room, I’m sure it’ll change a bit over the year as I add new things in but I’m really happy with it so far!

Hope you enjoyed this room tour and are all well!

How I Spent My Student Loan: A Guide for How (not) to Budget

As I’ve now officially finished my first year at university (eek!!), I decided to look back at how I’ve managed my money since moving out in September. One of the biggest responsibilities you have as a student is managing your income as for many people, university is the first time where you are expected to pay for your rent and bills by yourself, whilst also somehow having enough money to feed yourself and socialise.

I’m quite a visual person, so things graphs and charts mean a lot more to me than just lists of numbers, so I thought I would create a pie chart to breakdown my spending this past year. Throughout the year, I have been recording everything I spend in a little notebook, as it helps me keep track of how much I’m spending each week so I don’t end up in my overdraft. I’d highly recommend doing this as it’s a straightforward way to keep track of your spending and budget better. Also, if you’re bored and miss doing maths like me (who am I kidding??!), you can then spend hours creating fancy pie charts at the end of the year!

For context, my living costs at university have been funded by a maintenance loan from the Student Loans Company, along with a bursary from my university itself. Luckily my loan covered my accommodation costs but I know for some people this can be a struggle and they find they need to work alongside to support themselves.

The first chart I made is an overview of all my spending throughout the year.

Pie chart titled: Year 1 spending
Rent = 58%
Deposit = 10%
Other shopping = 7%
Groceries = 6%
Holidays = 4%
Social = 4%
Transport = 3%
Books = 2%
Other = 2%
ATM = 2%
Laundry = 1%
Top-up = 1%

As I expected, the rent I’ve paid for my university halls of residence has been the biggest outgoing, followed by the deposit I had to pay for my second year house (which was ridiculously expensive arghhh!!). Most student’s will probably end up spending the biggest chunk of money on their accommodation, unless you’re commuting then transport might be the biggest cost. Aside from the rent and deposit, all the other things I’ve spent money make up a relatively small percentage in comparison, so I’ve broken this down further into another pie chart, excluded the rent and deposit.

Pie chart title: Non-accommodation spending
Other shopping= 23%
Groceries = 19%
Social = 12%
Holidays = 12%
Transport = 1-%
ATM = 7%
Other = 6%
Books = 6%
Laundry = 3%
Top-up = 2%

So, excluding the amount of money I’ve had to spend on actually having somewhere to live at university, my next biggest cost by far is ‘other shopping’. I didn’t really know what to label this but basically I mean things I’ve bought that isn’t included in my weekly grocery shop, so non-essential items. The majority of this spending has gone on clothes, birthday/Christmas presents for friends and family and the new phone which I had to buy myself in first term as my old one decided to give up on me. I honestly expected transport to be by biggest non-accommodation cost, so this was quite surprising. I definitely think next year I can aim to spend a lot less on unnecessary items so I can save more money for after university.

After shopping, I’ve spent the most money on groceries which is to be expected as food can be expensive!

I’ve also spent a lot of money this year on holidays, which isn’t that surprising as flights and accommodation can be expensive! I also had to renew my passport this year which cost A LOT, but at least it’s valid for the next 10 years now. To some people, holidays/travel may seem unnecessary but travelling and exploring new countries is something I do for fun and to relax, and whilst some people might spend £100 on a night out, I’d rather put that money towards travel. I’ve spent the same amount of money on socialising, which includes things like paying for society memberships and events, going out for meals/for a coffee with friends and going to the Student Union club nights. The amount of money I spent on socialising definitely increased a lot in second term as I made more friends and although I have spent a lot of money socialising this year, I think it’s important to find a balance between studying and social life. It also proves to me that I haven’t been as anti-social as I thought I’d been this year!

Then transport is my next biggest cost and I was totally expect this. I think I’ve spent almost £400 on train and bus tickets this year, just travelling around the UK which goes to show how extortionate train tickets are here. It costs me £50 for a return ticket every time I go home, which is why I’ve only been home 4 times throughout the year as it’s too expensive to go back more frequently. I’ve also travelled a lot around my university area, going in and out of London multiple times and visiting my sister at her university in Portsmouth, so that accounts for the rest of the transport costs. I think next year I can aim to cut this down as well. One thing I’ve noticed this year is that when things get tough, I have a tendency to want to run away and escape, which usually results in me jumping on a train to London or another nearby town/city to go and explore for the day. I have enjoyed exploring the South East, but I think next year I’ll have to try and travel less frequently to save money.

The next three biggest costs which each make up around 6% of my spendings are books, cash withdrawals from ATMs and ‘other’ (which includes random costs such as posting parcels and buying new glasses, which are ridiculously overpriced!!). Honestly, university books are so expensive and I can’t wait to sell them at the end of my degree, even if I only get a fraction of the money back. I put ATM withdrawals as a separate category as I can never remember what I spend cash on specifically, but I guess it’ll usually be groceries or bus/train tickets.

Then finally I’ve spent the smallest amount of money on laundry (3%) and mobile phone top-ups (2%). I thought laundry would be a lot me, considering it costs me around £7 each week to wash and dry my clothes. However the good thing is next year I won’t have to spend any money on laundry as my house has it’s own washing machine and tumble dryer, so that’ll be some more money I can save. As I’m not on a contract, I only top-up my phone when I need credit and I’ve only spent £50 on credit this year, which just goes to show how good value pay-as-you-go phones are (well for me anyway)!

I know finance isn’t the most interesting of topics, but I did find it quite fun making these graphs and seeing what I’ve spent money on this year. I think the fact that I’ve spent more money on shopping for clothes etc. than groceries reflects the fact that when you’re student loan comes into your bank account, you kind of get a bit carried away and start buying unnecessary things. But next year I can definitely work on cutting down this unnecessary spending and reducing the amount I spend on transport which will help me to budget better!

I hope you found this useful in some way to see a breakdown of what I’ve spent in my first year at uni. I know every student has different priorities and will spend their loan differently, but I thought this might give people who are thinking of going to university in the next few years an insight into the types of costs you might want to factor into your student budget.

Good luck to anyone sitting exams right now! I’ll be back soon (*fingers crossed*) with a post about my experience of first year. 🙂

University Halls Room Tour!

First of all WHERE did April go??!? I cannot believe it is May already (or more like I REFUSE to believe it is May and that exams start next week aaaah). Anyway, I hope you’re all doing well!

Today I thought I’d take a break from revision to show you my room at university. Some of you may be going to university in September or maybe the following year, so I thought it might be interesting to show you what my room in halls looks like. I can’t believe I’ve only got 6 weeks left living here and I’m definitely going to miss this room – it’s changed a lot since I’ve moved in, as have I, so if anything I’ll enjoying reflecting on this in a few years time.

For context, I live in halls of residence on my university campus. My block has four floors and I was unlucky enough to end up on the fourth floor, which means every time we have a fire drill I have the joy of running down four flights of stairs and always being last out the building. I live in a flat of 8 and we share a kitchen, although we do have our own en suites which is nice!

Also: I know that accommodation does vary from university to university and even across university campuses, so not every student room will look like mine!

When you enter my room, the door to the en suite is on the left. The bathroom is actually a wet room which means basically the whole room/floor gets wet when you have a shower which is kind of annoying but now I’ve learnt not to leave stuff I don’t want getting wet on the floor it’s not too bad! I also have some hooks on the right hand wall which I hang various coats/scarfs/dressing gowns on. Then there’s a little shelf above the door which is one of my favourite things ever (lol I know that’s so sad) as it’s the perfect size to fit my suitcase, sleeping bag and roll mat on!

On the wall running along the right-hand side of my room, I’ve strung up some bits of string and made a photo wall by hanging photos off of it. I’m actually pretty proud of this as it took some skills to tie the string around the coat hooks and then tie the other end to the hinge inside my wardrobe that’s at the other end of the wall (would have been so much easier if I was allowed to stick pins in the wall!).

It’s kind of hard to get a photo of all of my room at once, but basically once you walk past the en suite it’s a square shape. This wall backs onto the bathroom and I have used it as a sort of poster/photo collage wall and added some fairy lights in for good measure too. This wall was actually plain for like the first term and a bit that I was here but I got a bit carried away at our Student’s Union’s poster sale back in January. I also have a bookcase on this wall which is adjacent to my bed and is filled with various folders, books and cans of cider (student essentials).

My room has a double bed, which was strange to sleep in at first as I’m used to a single bed, but now whenever I go home my bed feels so small! It also has storage under the bed which is great (if I remember to take my stuff out from there when I leave!).

Then on the other side of the bed is my desk which is where I spend most of my time (if I’m not lying in bed procrastinating). I really like how there’s a massive window in front of my desk as it lets lots of light in and makes studying more interesting as you can daydream. I try to keep my desk tidy but sometimes mess piles up (also excuse the random plate haha). I spent a lot of time decorating my notice board too when I moved in and I’ll be sad to have to take it all down soon!

At the end of my desk, I have a cupboard, a drawer and a few shelves which get a bit cluttered sometimes. Then there’s my wardrobe which is pretty much full now as I seem to have accumulated more clothes since moving in! It’s actually quite a big wardrobe which is great and it has a mirror in the door.

So, that’s pretty much an overview of my room in halls! I’ve really loved living here this year and I think it’s just the right size for a student room. It’ll definitely be weird living in a house next year but at least I won’t have to worry about carrying my key card everywhere with me in case I get locked out (or the 1 am fire alarms!).

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my room tour! And if you’re heading off to university soon and have any questions about life in halls, feel free to comment the below!

HOW am I half way through second semester??!!?

Snow in Windsor!

You can tell by the slightly over the top title that Spring term is just going SO FAST and next week is the last week of lectures before reading week (a.k.a. half term but not half term bc unis don’t get that lol…except some of us do). Honestly since coming back from Winter break, time has passed so quickly and I think that’s because I’ve been throwing myself into lots of things, which is good!!

I wanted to just write a little update about what I’ve been up to and reflect on the term so far!

I was determined to make this term better than the last and although it got off to s bit of a rocky start with some major breakdowns and trips to the uni wellbeing service, I am doing a lot better now! I feel like I’m the happiest I’ve been since starting uni.

Talking to the wellbeing advisors has helped me let go of a lot of stuff that was holding me back and getting me down last term, in terms of both the social and academic side of uni. I’ve always put pressure on myself academically and I think just having someone to tell me that I my work doesn’t need to be perfect and I am allowed to let myself relax has really helped. Also, I was feeling very lost and struggling with making friends, but the wellbeing team helped me to realise that friendships take time and I will make good friends eventually!! So I’m generally feeling a lot happier in myself now.

I’ve also stopped using Snapchat and Instagram, because I think there were affecting my mental health quite a lot as I kept comparing my experience of uni to my friends and making myself feel bad that I wasn’t having an “amazing” time, but I think I’m over that now because I know that I can shape my uni experience to how I want it to be and I don’t need to live up to society’s expectations of student life.

In terms of what I’ve been up to this term, I’ve done quote a few fun things! I’ve been trying to go and explore new places every Sunday to give me a day off and help me relax and so far I’ve been into London to see the Winter Lights Festival in Canary Wharf, which was amazing although I practically froze and I’ve also been to Windsor and Eton to explore. I’ve also been on a hike in the snow (IT SNOWED!! TWICE!! And uni turned into Narnia!) with hiking society and trying to meet up with friends from outside my course more often, which has been really nice!

I feel like this term I’m definitely balancing the social side of uni with studying more and I’m feeling really good in myself, which I’m happy about!!

Something else I’ve started doing this term is volunteering at a local Scout group which was honestly terrifying at first and quite far out of my comfort zone, but I’m so proud of myself for doing it and now I’m really enjoying it.

I’ve got lots of exciting things coming in the second half of this term like going to the watch The Last Leg live on Friday and doing a Monopoly Run around London with the Scouts which my mum and sister are both coming down to do, so it will be nice to see them!

I’m going home for a few days in my reading week just so I can focus on essays as there are too many distractions at uni, and also it’s my friends birthday so I’ll be able to catch up with her. Also in March my friend from home is coming to stay and we’re going to explore London together which will be so nice!!

So yeah, I think that’s pretty much what I’ve been up to so far this term! Hope school/college/uni is going well for you all and catch up soon! 🙂

Things I Love About Uni!

As you are probably aware if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, I do like a bit of a rant about uni. So, I thought it was time to spread some positivity on my blog – both for your sake and mine – by sharing with you some of the things I love about being at university!

Meeting New People

I’ve never thought of myself as being very good at meeting new people, but I suppose that’s because at home I’d gone through primary school, secondary school and college with pretty much the same people so I was rarely in a situation where I could meet new people. However, since coming to uni I have discovered I absolutely love meeting people from such a diverse range of backgrounds. Being close to London, my university is quite international which means I’ve met people from all over the world, as well as around the UK, and I find it so interesting learning about other people’s cultures and experiences. At first it was a bit daunting being in a place where I knew no one, but you’ve just got to remind yourself that 99% of other freshers are in the same position! I love the fact that there are so many people here to meet and there’s always new opportunities to get to know new people through your course, societies, mutual friends or even just bumping into people in the library. I’ve also been able to meet more like-minded people which is such a refreshing experience – and slightly mind-blowing – when you meet someone who may have had a completely different upbringing to you but you still perceive the world in a similar way!

Exploring a New Area

If you know me well you’ll know that I am very much an adventurer and that exploring new places makes me feel alive! I didn’t know much about the area of the UK that my university is located in before coming here (and to be honest I still don’t!!) but being somewhere completely different to home means there’s always new places to discover. I’m quite a restless person and don’t like being in one place for too long, so often if I have a day or an afternoon off I’ll go on a spontaneous trip somewhere. For example, I went into London to wander around and look at the Christmas lights. I’ve only been to London probably less than 10 times in my life so there is still so much of it to explore and I really don’t know my way around! I also go walking a lot, mainly because I’ve joined the hiking society and also because I just love walking. Last week I went on a two hour hike in between my lectures just because the sun was shining and I wanted to get out and about. I really do love where my university is, even though it’s a campus and not in a city, I love the surrounding area and how it’s so close to London and lots of other interesting places to explore.

Cooking

Before coming to uni, I actually really didn’t enjoy cooking but now, surprisingly, cooking dinner has become one of my highlights of the day. I really love having the freedom to buy my own food and cook what I like – not that I didn’t like my parents cooking at home, but it’s so satisfying to sit down and eat something you’ve taken the time cook! I really love trying new recipes and experimenting with different ingredients and I find cooking dinner helps me to relax after a day of studying. I’ll be sharing some of my favourite meals in a post soon! 🙂

My Degree

I am actually really loving my degree! You may remember I changed degree at the start of uni as studying French didn’t really work out how I wanted it to, and for a while I was a bit unsure whether Politics and International Relations was right for me as I always saw myself going into a career related to languages, but the more I study the more I realise this is the right path for me. I really feel like I’m learning about how the world works and what problems we’re facing on a global scale and it’s made me realise that i want to go into a career that will help make a difference to some of these global issues. My degree kind of encompasses all the bits I loved from studying geography, history and politics A Level as well as completely new stuff like philosophy which I find my mind is really in tune with, I’ve always like philosophising about thinks and I love the way that studying philosophy makes me think about the world today!

Every Week is Different!

Literally the weeks at uni fly by as I’m always busy doing one thing or another, and I love the variety of things I get to do here. my uni is really goof at putting on lots of events and although I don’t go to all of them, I have been to some like pet therapy and the Christmas market (we had ACTUAL reindeer!) which I’ve really enjoyed. Also I find each week my friendships with people change and grow – some weeks I become closer to some people and then the next I’ll grow closer to others. With every week I spend here, I feel a little bit more like this is the place for me.

My Room

I’m not going to lie, decorating my room was probably the thing I was most excited for when coming to uni. I’ve spent a lot of time making it feel homely and I absolutely love it!! my accommodation in general is just really nice and modern and I’m so happy with it. Also, I have an amazing view from my window, especially in the autumn – can’t wait to see what it’ll look like in spring!

So, that’s a few of the things I’m loving about uni so far!! I’m sure by the end of the year there will be many more!

If you’re at uni, what are you loving so far? And if you’re going to uni soon, what are you most looking forward to? 🙂

November wrap up!

Hello! It’s December yay!! In two weeks time I’ll be at home, beginning my month-long Christmas break which I am honestly so ready for. Today I thought I’d wrap up November by recapping what I’ve been up to, as well as some things I’m looking forward to in December. Time passes so quickly at university that it feels like I’ve done so much yet nothing at all, so it will be nice to look back at the past month!

Meeting bloggers!

I think I mentioned this in another post but at the beginning of November I met up with Megan, Kel, Eve and Janet and spent the day wandering around London, it was such a  lovely day!

Going home!

My university had a reading week at the beginning of November too which essentially consisted of a week of no lectures to help us catch up on reading and work on our assignments. On the Wednesday of that week my mum and my sister came to visit, I showed them around my uni and we went shopping and ate out in the local town. Then my mum and I got the train home and I stayed until the Sunday. It was so weird being home, it almost didn’t feel like home anymore, but it was lovely to spend proper time with my family. We went to see Bohemian Rhapsody at the cinema, we watched our local illuminated carnival even though it was tipping it down and I also went to the Remembrance Day service. I also managed to see one of my friends who had come back from uni too so that was great!

Fantastic Beasts

Me and three of my uni friends went to see Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald. I have to say I was a bit disappointed with it as the first film was so good, but it was a good evening nonetheless!

Essays…ugh

I had three 2000 essays due in this month which each contribute to 25% of my grade for each of those three modules. Honestly I got so ridiculously stressed whilst writing these essays that it was making me ill as I couldn’t sleep and felt constantly exhausted and dizzy. It was not fun so next time essays are due I definitely need to manage my time better, try not to panic and make sure I’m sleeping and eating properly. 

Birthday!

Last Wednesday was my birthday! It was so weird not being at home, seeing my family or doing our usual birthday traditions, but I did have a nice day. My family had sent some cards and parcels to me so I did have some presents to open, then two of my uni friends took me out for brunch which turned into a shopping spree!

I also met up with my sister again last weekend as I was so stressed I just needed to get out of uni, so we met up in a town halfway between her uni and mine. Something I’ve learnt whilst being at uni is that sometimes you just need a bit of normality because everything can get overwhelming very quickly, so seeing family or talking to friends from home can really help you to put things in perspective.

So that’s how November panned out, now some things to look forward to in the coming month.

Obviously Christmas break is what I’m most looking forward to – I get to go home for a whole month and I can’t wait! I think coming up to the Christmas period I’ve been more homesick than previously as at this time of year I just want to be around my family. However I haven’t got long to wait! 

I’m really looking forward to just spending evenings with my family, playing board games and watching TV. I’ll also be going to Devon and Yorkshire to visit my grandparents which will be great as I haven’t seen them in about a year.

I’m really looking forward to catching up with my friends from home too as we’ll finally all be in the same place.

I’m sad I don’t have time to do Blogmas this year, but if any of you are, let me know as I’d love to keep up with your posts!

I think that’s all for now, sorry this post has been a bit all over the place!