It is so so important to look after yourself, both mentally and physically whilst you’re living away from home. It may be your first time fleeing the nest or actually, you’re a fully-fledged independent being – either way, we can often slip into bad habits even in the best of times.
1. Sleep well! Sleep is probably the most crucial thing you need in life and especially whilst you’re studying. If you don’t get enough sleep it can impact your concentration, mood and health. If you’re anything like me and Sleeping Beauty, try opting for a quieter flat - you wouldn’t want to be in a flat full of raucous students stumbling in at 5am and knocking over lots of pots and pans whilst trying to cook something remotely edible after a night out.
2. Eat well - and I don’t mean lots. Eat your greens kids - they’re full of vitamins and nutrients your body needs in order to function. And no, I’m not trying to be your mother (even though she is right) However, every now and then there is nothing wrong with the odd bit of chocolate or cake!
3. Don’t forget the exercise! Even if it’s just a brisk walk to lectures, a quick jog on a Saturday morning or a bike ride, exercise is really important and impacts greatly on your mood. Maybe get off the bus a stop earlier or invest in a bike instead of getting an Uber to your placements - it could do you the world of good.
4. Please clean up after yourselves – and do some washing. Nobody likes a slob – especially a smelly one at that. Okay I know, washing machines in halls are expensive, but you can always ask your flat mates if you can throw in some undies when they are doing a big load themselves. I’m sure they won’t mind. Also, please don’t leave your pots and pans lying in the sink for days on end – yes, you may have needed to soak them, but after a few days it just becomes a nuisance, and somebody else’s problem. Do not become the hated member in the flat.
5. Speak up. If you’re struggling, please talk to someone. Even if it’s a friend from back home, parents, a tutor, a lecturer you confide in - please talk. Being away from home can be great, but it can also be isolating - particularly in the first semester where everything still seems so new. Students are expected to be resilient from Day 1, and it’s not always easy.
6. Use your lecturers! Most academics are more approachable than you think. Ask them questions, use them to help with essays, show an interest in what they are doing - they are there for a reason. Establish a trusting relationship with them and these adult-intellects can be a great help in very different ways! Many of these lecturers will have had their own sons and daughters go through University and have been in that position themselves so will have some empathy with the struggles students face.
7. Budget in advance. So - we all love the day Student Finance drops, but that doesn’t mean we should spend it all in one go. That money is there to last you until the next instalment; don’t blow it. Plan your meals, only buy what is necessary and don’t buy that iMac that is begging to be taken away from the store. Be realistic about your needs and how much you need to live off a week and you’ll be fine. If not, there are always part-time jobs available, sometimes on campus. And if not, I suppose there may be the bank of parents to fall back on.
8. Lastly, have fun! You made it to University - you’re here with a great bunch of people who are willing to be your friends. Smile, put yourself out there and try new things. There are plenty of opportunities out there - ranging from societies, joining the newspaper or even internships. Don't just sit in your room chatting to virtual friends or watching YouTube videos of cats. Get out and actually talk to people! These three years (or more) will fly by, make the most of it.