1st time student away from home

Living away from home for the first time? My friend there is a lot for you to learn! There are bills to pay, companies to chase, agreements to keep to and cleaning to be done! Where to start I hear you ask?

house partying

So for the purposes of this article I will assume that you already have your student accommodation lined up, I got mine sorted out through Shields Student Homes in Nottingham. For the first time, you will be living away from Mum and Dad and braving life in the real world all alone!

Excellent I hear you cry, no more chores, no more nagging. I will be free to party till dawn, celebrate my youth and enjoy the freedom that comes with living alone.

chilling with friends

Well, sadly, it’s not quite like that! Firstly, you will be studying – bear in mind that at some point you hope to have a degree with which to settle down when you want to do all that boring stuff like getting a job, getting married and eventually having kids. If you don’t put at least a fair amount of effort in now then you may not end up with that degree and will, instead, have 5 years of partying to put on your cv (not quite as attractive perhaps?)

Living along means chores are definitely not out. When your Mum asked you to make your bed and put the odd wash load on she was trying (perhaps in vain) to teach you about running a household and what goes into it. So hovering, mopping, cleaning the bathroom, doing the washing, ironing and cooking are very much in. Even if you split them between all of you in the household it will take some time and if you ignore it you’ll end up in a pigs sty and perhaps in trouble with your letting agents or landlord.

Food shopping is a new and exciting thing all together – you will be drawn to the alcohol aisle, crisps, chocolate and of course ready meals when you first venture into Tesco alone with your small budget that you have allocated for food shopping. This won’t last. Well it can’t really last – your body requires sufficient fuel to help it run and feeding it twixes and kitkats is not going to do the job – if you haven’t done so yet, ask your mum for some last minute cooking tips. It is indeed true that if you can cook yourself a roast chicken then you can survive alone (with this one meat, cooked in one way, you can make a roast dinner, salads, pasta, curry’s, pies, the list is endless!!)

So the key when living alone and renting (what is essentially somebody else’s house), you need to be aware that they want that house kept in a reasonable condition. Otherwise they will expect you to pay for the damage to it. So while mattress surfing down the stairs seems like a good idea after a few pints when 15 of your mates are egging you on, when your landlord wants you to pay to replace the banisters and that means you can’t afford to eat for a month, it may not seem like quite such a good idea! You need to respect the property you are RENTING just as you did your parents home – hopefully this will help you to avoid any large property damage fees at the end of your contract (when your landlord will walk around the house and check for damage!)

Student years are supposed to be fun but you also need to be sensible – there are many things you will discover when you first live alone (the loo roll doesn’t replace itself and fridges aren’t self-filling) but you will, no doubt, enjoy the experience and learn some quite useful information on the way.

Useful Links:

http://www.unipol.org.uk/home  Unipol website all about student living

http://www.ntu.ac.uk/ Nottingham Trent University

http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/ The University Of Nottingham


Useful Skills for living away from home- My experience

Growing up, my dad could always be found tinkering with something in the house. Whether it be putting up a shelf, changing a light bulb, fixing the washing machine or mowing the lawn. As I got older my dad was keen to get me involved in doing lots of these things with him. ‘You’ll need to know these things when you move out’ was his favourite thing to say. At the time changing a fuse in a plug or reading the gas meter was not my idea of fun and I would much rather be sat on my laptop or watching TV. However I have now got to admit that he was right and thank him so much for showing me many life skills.

When I was 18 I moved from London to Nottingham to go to University. In my second year it was time to move into a student house. A house full of 6 of my best girlfriends was fantastic and moving in the focus was in girly nights in and big nights out. However after only 2 days of being in my student house in Nottingham, the things my dad had taught me came into use. It was the first Friday night and we were all getting ready for a night out in town. There was music playing and hair dryers blowing when all of a sudden it all went quiet. The power had gone. My fellow house mates started to panic. ‘We should phone the landlord’, ‘I’ll phone my mum’ and ‘I need to straighten my hair!’ were the calls of my housemates. However I knew that the most likely cause would be that the power had tripped. On the first day in the house my dad had shown me where the fuse box was and explained what to do if the power tripped. Using the light from my mobile phone, I searched under the stairs and found the fuse box and flicked on the switch which bought the power back on upstairs. Everyone was surprised I knew what to do, and I wouldn’t have either if I had not been taught. I don’t think the landlord of our student house would have been impressed to be called out on a Friday night to flick a switch.

From that day on whenever there was a problem I was the first port of call. From reading the gas meter, changing light bulbs, working the lawnmower to unblocking a plug hole full of hair – eurgh – I am the houses resident DIYer. These skills may not sound that difficult, but I was surprised how my housemates didn’t know how to do some of these simple everyday tasks.

If you are about to move into your own student house and don’t know how to do some of the tasks I have mentioned, get someone to show you now. Part of living away from home in a student house is becoming independent and surviving without the safety net of your parents. I know many people are taught how to use the washing machine and how to prepare their favourite meals but a bit of simple DIY is also helpful. Obviously, you have a landlord to do major repairs but being able to do things for yourself is a good life skill. I have also taught my housemates and when there is a problem I phone up my dad and her talks me through problems if he thinks there is an obvious easy solution. As much as I got fed up with being shown how to do things before I moved away, it has enabled me to get on confidently on my own and it is good to know I don’t always need to run to mum and dad for help.

Moving to University – Useful things for living in Student Accommodation

So you have received you’re A-Level results and are off to University! If you are moving away and are off to live in student accommodation there is lots you will need to take with you, some obvious and some things that you may not have thought of. Here is a guide to some random items that you may wish to bring with you to ensure you have all you need in your new student home. This is written from personal experience of living in student accommodation in Nottingham, whilst studying at Nottingham Trent.

  1. Clothes horse – You are likely to find that tumble dryers either aren’t available or cost too much to run. A simple clothes horse is a great help for drying your clothes efficiently, unless you are planning on taking all your washing back home for your mum to do! It is easy to find one for under a tenner. Make sure you get one that is easy to fold away.

  2. Two sets of bedding – You are likely to not have easy access to a tumble dryer so make sure you bring 2 sets of bedding so you always have a clean set available when the other one is being washed.

  3. Larger Plastic cup/beaker – After a night out you will definitely need a large glass of water by your bedside to help rehydrate you. A plastic cup is useful in case it gets knocked off, especially if you have a hard laminate floor.

  4. Dressing up clothes – Raid your wardrobe for clothes that may be good for dressing up. Unions and student nightclubs often have student theme nights so if you have any old dressing up clothes, be it cowboy hats, 70’s outfits, neon tutus etc are likely to come in handy and save you buying new ones.

  5. Earplugs – Student accommodation can be noisy. Every night can be a night out for students and they will come in handy when you need a good rest and a quiet night in. Party till the early hours is fun when you are doing it, but not so great when you want to sleep and others are making noise at 3am! Ear plugs will help to block out the noise and help with a better night’s sleep.

  6. Tin opener – Tinned food tend to be cheap and a good student staple but is not much good without a tin opener! Student accommodation varies when it comes to kitchen equipment, so make sure you find out what you need before you go. If you are stuck look in pound shops for bargains!

  7. Extension cables/bar plugs – Most students these days tend to have a wealth of gadgets and chargers. Hairdryers, hair straighteners, laptop chargers, mobile phone chargers, alarm clocks, lamps, televisions, DVD players, games consoles etc all need to be plugged in, many at the same time, but you may only have one or two plug sockets in your room in your halls or student home. A bar plug will be useful to power a range of things at one and extensions cables are good if the plug sockets are not where you need to plug this in.

  8. Medicine – A range of cold/flu remedy’s, allergy tablets, cough sweets, painkillers etc are useful to have in stock. When you are at University you won’t have mum or dad available to pop to the shops when you are feeling rough so having some on standby is useful. These are especially useful the first few weeks as you are likely to catch the dreaded Fresher’s Flu!!

  9. Cleaning products – Unless you want to live in filth, you will need to clean! Some basic multi-purpose cleaners are the best option as you don’t want to be storing lots of different bottles.

I hope this was a helpful list of things you may not have considered when preparing to move into student accommodation.