When someone says the word ”University”, what is the first thing that pops into your head? It may be debt, education, necessary, unnecessary or party. For me, it’s none of those things. Yes I am here to get an education, but I feel like I have learnt so much more outside of my degree than I expected too.
One of the first things I learned was how to budget. Before I came to University, I had a full time summer job, was running a car and was pretty comfortable, going from this to no car and no job with only a loan was very hard. I soon learnt that I couldn’t afford to buy a top just because I wanted it and that 3 Costas a week would cost me around £36 a month (I know!). So, I did some maths, well tried, and calculated how much I had per week from my loan after paying for my halls. I even included Easter and summer in this just to be even more sensible, and I stuck to this the best I could…because let’s be honest I’m only human.
One thing I did start to notice was that the week of student loan payments, most shops were having boosted student discount, and some shops that don’t even do student discount were having it for a short period of time (sneaky eh?). I will admit that I got sucked into the deals with my first student loan payment, but as the second one rolled around I saw that the clothes I had bought the first time round I hadn’t really worn that much, and it turns out I was just buying them for the sake of the discount. Lesson number 2 learned: don’t fall into the student-discount-loan-day trap.
Staying on the subject of money, I also have seen how much different a part time job can make. In my first year, I didn’t work during term time, but had a job at home during summer and Christmas. Coming into my second year, I had a car, meaning I had more accessibility, but also meaning I needed a job to run it. I managed to get a job working weekends and some week nights on a bar. It does have its down sides, for example I can’t just decide that I want to go home for the weekend, I have to plan in advance and book it off, and sometimes I am working until 2am. However, the upsides greatly outweigh the downsides. Firstly, more disposable income. I am able to afford to go on 2 holidays this year, and if sometimes I want to treat myself and go out for dinner or buy some shoes I like, I can without having to worry. The second being I feel more productive and like I have a routine, which in turn helps me with my uni work, my sleeping pattern and my general happiness.
Moving on from the money side of things, I learnt a lot from living out of halls and in a house with friends. One of the most important things I found is RESEARCH YOUR LANDLORD. See if they have a website, and reviews or testimonials. When looking round houses ask the people that live there questions…and don’t settle. If something isn’t right, then it’s not the right house for you. Now… landlords, this is subject can make me very angry. I have found that people take advantage because you’re a student. Landlords and estate agents (in my experience) think that because you’re a student then your standards of living must be lower, or that they can say they will fix something and wont. We learnt this the hard way, and I have friends who have been in similar situations. If you think something is not right (e.g unclean when you move in), then put up a fuss, and keep going until you get what you want, within reason of course.
Lastly, and most importantly I learned how much my parents actually do for me. When I go home now, I actually look forward to not having to cook for myself. I’ve realised that looking after yourself is hard work, and I can’t imagine what it must be like for my parents, having to look after me, my siblings and themselves. It’s made me appreciate them more than I already did, and to be honest, I miss them a lot.
What have you learnt from being at/going to Uni?