As many of you are about to start uni, I thought I'd do a little (mammoth) post of advice for students new and old!
I studied Fashion Promotion at UCA Rochester and graduated in July. I didn't live in halls as I was already living with my boyfriend, so I can't offer much advice there. I have included some tweeted tips from my Twitter followers for another perspective on all things uni!
I hope those of you that are going to university are excited! Some of my tips may sound a bit like 'don'ts' rather than 'do's', but I don't want to give anyone any more stress than you're already under. Everyone's experience is different, so mine is just one perspective on it based on my own mistakes and experiences.
If you have any more questions, post them in the comments and I'll do my best to respond to all of them in the next couple of days :)
Let's rock.SAVING MONEY
Get an NUS Card
It costs about £11, but you get heaps of discounts on fashion, food, beauty and more. Gotta be done. Make sure you check the website so you're making the most of all those savings you're entitled to!
Arrange to have your student loan put into a high interest bank account. You'll make money from it, and can set up a standing order to have a monthly amount paid into your current account so you don't fall for the 'OMG I'm RICH!!!!' syndrome the day your loan arrives... That feeling wears off pretty quickly after a few nights out and food shopping trips. Martin knows more about banking advice, so have a lookie!
Save money by cooking meals in big batches and refrigerating/freezing the rest. This works great for things like pasta bake, bolognese and curry.
When eating out, use your student discount. Many Nando's branches offer discount (the Canterbury one offers 20%!) and a whole bunch of places offer deals with an NUS card!
My favourite bargain food: Tesco Value 50p Tortilla crisps (next to doritos), Tesco Value midget gems, Batchelors savoury rice (bung some prawns in to make my signature Pauper's Paella!), PASTA with any old sauce.
Probs illegal of me to admit/advise this, but I have been known to take my own alcohol out with me. If money's tight, I totally begrudge wasting £3 a pop on alcoholic drinks! Makes much more sense to buy my own cheap booze, and take some out with me to top up soft drinks with. If you get caught, you may get barred, so approach with caution!
Again, use your NUS card to get discounts at squillions of shops.
Topshop are offering 20% off to students until the beginning of October if you complete their SCVNGR mobile app game (only available on smart phones). You have to complete a series of mini tasks in store (take a snap of your favourite mannequin, etc) and you unlock a 20% off voucher to use instore!
Look out for in-store events in September and October. I think Topshop have stopped their student lock-ins, but I'm pretty sure Urban Outfitters still do theirs.
Shop on eBay! To get the best price on the items you've got your eye on, NEVER bid before the last minute! It lets your competition know that they have some, er, competition, and starts a bidding war. Not good. Use a site like Goofbay to to automatically 'snipe' your bids in the final seconds and increase your chance of winning the item (at a bargain price!)
Charity shops. My favourite way to find a bargain! If there's something specific you're after, always ask a member of staff and they'll often go and check out the back for you. I got a great pair of brogues by doing this!
Get DIY-ing! If you get that urge to buy new clothes but don't have the dough, try refreshing your own wardrobe. Here are some of my Tuesday Tips to keep you busy:
Ooh, and when in doubt, learn your own nail art. If you're having a sartorial off-day, some awesome nail art always makes the look more boho than hobo...
Don't judge a book by its cover
On Day 1, we had to pair up with someone else. I was sat between a perfectly nice girl called Emily, and another girl with slightly wild hair and fashiony dress sense (who shall remain unnamed!) For some reason, I had this foolish urge back then to get in with a 'cool crowd' at uni - so I paired up with wild girl. She turned out to be completely scatty, unreliable and actually didn't have a clue what she was on about. Lovely, normal Emily, on the other hand, eventually became a true friend of mine, and one of the few uni friends I'll be staying in contact with! And let me just say, she is far from normal! In a good way.
The same can be said of a time, a few months into the course, we got randomly paired with people to work on a powerpoint presentation together. I was paired with a girl called Hannah. Stunner, blonde hair extensions, fake tan and an LC obsession. Not My Type, I thought... We bonded during working together (albeit by joking that our very smiley lecturer was a rampant alcoholic) and she became another true friend, and one of the funniest girls I've ever met.
Funnily enough, most of the people that looked 'cool' also thought they were very cool and were therefore dickheads. So forget who you think you 'ought' to be friends with, and be friendly with everyone. You'll find real friends a lot quicker if you give everyone a chance.
Don't be a douchebag
Being a nice person is crucial if you want to make friends. Always remember 3 golden rules of being nice.
1. Always say please/thank you
2. If someone asks you something about yourself, ask something back.
3. Don't moan. Moaning to your friends is one thing, but moaning to potential new friends isn't going to help your case!
To conclude - be your lovely selves and you will be absolutely fine, I promise you!! Everybody at uni wants to make friends, so don't for one second think you won't make any!
When moving in to halls or your uni house, always thoroughly check the inventory. This is a list of the state of everything in the property. So if there's a stain on the carpet that hasn't been pointed out on the inventory when you moved in, you will still have to pay for it to be rectified when you move out. Go through everything on that list and add ANY imperfections you don't see noted, backing up with photo evidence. Take this to your landlord and have them sign it. This way, you can't be made to pay for damage you didn't cause.
Don't worry if you don't live in halls. Yes, some people have had a head start at meeting people, but that's an excellent conversation starter during the first week! 'Are you in halls? How's it going?'
Put your phone on silent. Can be awkward if you don't!
If people are talking/being noisy, don't be afraid to SHHH them or move seats. It's your education their drowning out, so don't stand for it. And if you're the talkers, SHHH, please! I even shushed my own friends in lectures if they whispered too much, haha! Noise annoys = my golden rule. Just as well I didn't do halls, I'd never have survived!!
And just to prove I did have SOME fun at university....
Killing time between lectures with Hannah in Poundland... It said 'Canal fishing...'
Emily and Nik
My blonde beauty, Hannah <3
3 Tequila, floor
Laura and Hannah
It's fun to pose with passed out men.
Decided to pose for a photo next to a huge crowd of police restraining a man (see right of image). Drunkenly decided to wield my pirate sword and strike this pose. The fact the policeman is distracted from the criminal by the absurdity of it all has been a great source of entertainment for my friendship group. My mum even has this photo on the wall of her office! Haha!