Category Archives: University

Part One: Going to university, what to pack?!

This is the first in the series about university life. I base what I write on my experiences of living in halls and private housing while I’ve been doing my engineering degree for the last 4 years. I hope they help! If you have any questions just pop them in the comments and I’ll get back to you. 🙂 

What to take the bare minimum.

Remember that the room/ storage you get given will probably be a lot less than you are used to at home so you are unlikely to have room for everything! Plus when you’re at uni you are likely to accumulate things- even if it’s just notes, so you will need to have room in the car/ suitcase to take them back home with you at the end of the year!

Kitchen
label your stuff that way no one claims your things thinking they are theirs because they didn’t see what Mum unpacked for them!!

  • mixing bowl
  • wooden or silicon spoon, potato masher, spaghetti scoop (great for stews and all types of pasta etc)
  • saucepan (I tend to use my saucepan as a frying pan too as I’m only cooking for 1!) It’s handy to have 2 saucepans one for sauce the other for rice/pasta/potatoes.
  • Baking tray and roasting dish
  • Measuring jug
  • Sharp knife- I have a small one with a sheath and a larger one
  • Chopping board
  • cutlery (2 sets of knife, fork, spoon & teaspoon as minimum and spare teaspoons- no idea where they go to!)
  • a couple of plates, bowls, glasses and mugs
  • storage Tupperware type boxes with lids
  • kitchen foil and plastic wrap
  • can opener and  vegetable peeler
  • dish spongers with a scrubber on the back and dish soap!

You may also need a kettle/ toaster- see what uni provides and try to get in contact with future housemates through facebook pages for your halls to see what others are bringing! You don’t want to end up with 5 toasters!!!

For store cupboard ingredients and basics see my post “Food for University”.

Clothes

Your choice here, but here are some things to remember:

Take lots and lots of underwear. Seriously! Uni laundrettes are expensive and have large drums so it will take you a while to get enough stuff to fill it! Have enough clothes so you can do a darks wash and a lights wash to save having white t-shirts etc go funny shades of blue and pink.

Going out stuff- I’d not really gone on a night out before and took nothing for this type of occasion. A couple of dresses and a pair of heels (ladies) or smarter jeans/ trousers and a couple of nice shirts (gentlemen) would do!

Practical things- a proper waterproof coat and umbrella never go amiss in the UK! Warm socks and wellies are also a good option! Also warm jumpers can be useful if you have bad heating in your halls/ lecture rooms.
Flipflops for the showers are a good idea as well and don’t forget your towel!!!!

Miscellaneous

Take a tin of roses chocolates, or tub of biscuits- so useful to make friends with people with as they knock on your door to say hello to their new flatmate!

  • Cereal bars- great for when you’re in a rush to get out of the door!
  • Pens and paper. I have no idea why people forget these as I’m sure everyone knows you go to university to study and at some point these items will be useful?? Don’t forget these as it’s annoying to have just met someone on the first day of your course and already they are leaching off you for stationary!
     Having a diary is useful too as you will suddenly have a lot of dates times and places to remember as well as deadlines. I’m currently using a Filofax which I LOVE (see my posts on using a Filofax at uni) but I one had a Palgrave Student Planner which was fabulous.
  • If you have a bike take a motorcycle lock not a d-lock; d-locks are easy to take off even though they (university security/ police) normally recommend them! I’d also recommend a laptop lock. Great for keeping it safe in your room, but also for when you need a toilet break in the library!
  • Things to make your place a little homely- photos, posters (if your allowed), pot plant, your musical instrument etc.
  • Finally a bit of a random one… toilet paper. You do not want to arrive and have none of this handy as most local supermarkets will have sold out as all students seem to arrive with none!

What not to take… for example, expensive kitchen stuff- your new housemates will probably not respect it how you would like- it may get taken or broken. If you do have expensive stuff make sure you wash it up straight away and take it back to your room.

I also wouldn’t take expensive jewellery or things that have a large sentimental value to you for the same reason. Even if you do get some insurance with your room it probably won’t cover things like this.  Check to see what your parents household insurance covers- sometimes you can be lucky and it will cover your mobile phone etc.

Hope you find these pointers useful, have fun packing and I hope you check out some of the other parts in the series below as they become live!

Series One: University

Part One: Going to university, what to pack?!
Part Two: Beating Homesickness and Fresher Blues- coping on your own
Part Three: Food for University
Part Four: Lecture note writing for easy revision
Part Five: University Organisation
Part Six: Dyslexia at University

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Surprise! We bought a house!

So after all my writing in cryptic terms I can finally tell the news that has had me bursting at the seams for the last month.

It’s been exactly one month from the day we first saw the house on the internet at our anniversary dinner to the day we got conformation that we definitely have the house!

It’s a three bedroom house only 10 mins bike ride from my boyfriend’s work. We are very very lucky (being only 20 and 21!) and my only sad thought is that as I’m still at uni I cannot live there full time until I leave uni and get a job up in the north.

Still I get to spend my christmas holidays redecorating ‘my’ (our) first house- a dream I’ve had since I was little. I’m please that we get the keys at the start of my month break as I have an exam next week and I think I wouldn’t study well if we got the keys before that!

We announced it on facebook yesterday and it’s been lovely to see all our friends and family so excited for us! I will update my blog with household renovations as we do them so you all can see them too 🙂

I must go now because I have to revise for that exam of mine 😦 and I feel quite poorly tonight 😦 😦 so I need to get an earlyish night (much rather just go straight to bed but I’m feeling really guilty for not revising this weekend!!).

One final thing, my filofax hole punch came yesterday so have now managed to fit my dividers into my diary- will post on this another time! (see previous post on filofax here)

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Filofax

I kinda wanted a filofax for ages. They seemed like the ultimate organiser where you could mix up normal diary pages with notes and list pages without them all falling out on the floor if you held it the wrong way. But they are SO expensive and seemed a little too business like for me. Way out of my league.

So I made a diary with notes, to-dos and menu planners for each week and got it bound so the pages didnt fall out, but it just wasnt flexible enough for my needs as one week I might have loads of notes, but not really ‘to-do’s’ and might only be at uni for 4 days in that week so a menu planner wasnt useful.

So I took the plunge and bought a personal sized finsbury filofax in a lovely yellow. Digger yellow as I like to call it.

I bought it off amazon for a much reduced price (so felt I could justify it!).

I havent really done anything to it yet, as I haven’t got  a holepunch for it, but I did stick this little puffy crocodile on the front plastic page.

 

I did make these month dividers from an A4 pack, and bought these zip wallets to hold things like post it notes and paperclips.

Hopefully when I get around to buying a hole punch I will be able to add in the lists I have made on the computer! will be much more functional and it’s much cheaper to make your own rather than buy branded ones. Plus I can make them on coloured paper so I can colour code things! I look forward to updating you on my planner as it progresses!

 

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Post. Autumn brings good things….I hope!

I really aught to actually post the posts I write at the time they were written; normally they are relevant to a particular time and loose their meaning after that. I’ve missed out on about 6 or 7 posts so far because of this.

So far Uni this year actually hasn’t been too bad. I’m quite surprised  May of my friends are really struggling however as they have dissertations to do, which is something I’m lucky enough not to have to do until next year. I’m trying to learn of them so I have a better idea of time management for my project next year.

The only project I have (and the only piece of work to do other than studying for a test in a couple of weeks) is a group project and we haven’t really started yet. Slightly worrying as its now at the beginning of the 8th week of term out of a possible 11! Not very much I can do about that now though. 

I’m hoping that for the start of January ,when my current homemade diary runs out, I’m going to start using a filofax. I’ve got my eye on a yellow finsbury in the personal size. I wanted a yellow one and I wanted a zip (so it can double up as a purse). Problem is it is soooo expensive! I’ve seen some on Amazon for about 25% off RRP, but even so I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than £8 on a planner! I think I’m going to sleep on the idea for a few nights! I do like how customisable they are though.

In other news I’ve been lapping up every chance to enjoy autumn that I can before the miserable British winter starts. I’ve watched countless firework displays from my halls window, baked pumpkin shaped gingerbread cookies, dressed up for Halloween  created a autumnal window display in my halls window and  across my desk. I’ve kicked up the bright yellow, red, orange and brown dry leaves on my way to uni each day and started my preparation for a good Christmas.

Mainly this involves getting bits and bobs together to make Christmas presents (I’m an advocate of the more handmade the better), and buying the odd gift. But yesterday my mum and sister came up to Birmingham and together we watched a short but sweet Christmas parade and the switching on of the Christmas lights. 

I’m all for enjoying autumn for autumn but I also relish getting ready for holidays in advanced. I’m not talking about putting up the xmas decorations in august (I really hate that), but I do like the anticipation of good things to come.

Talking of good things to come (time for crossing every finger!), there might be a big move in my world towards being a “growned up” as I used to call it. I don’t want to jinx the process by exactly saying what it is, but I should be able to spill the beans in early December. Funnily enough my sister got a fortune cookie yesterday, (our family has a tendency to believe in such things after I got one that said there was to be a new addition to the family, and a week or so later we found out that I was going to have a sister!) which read “A half-solved problem will be entirely solved next month”. So let’s see if it comes true again!

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Back To School

Yesterday was my first day “back” at uni. I say “back” as I’ve actually been there all summer as I was doing a summer placement in my department in partnership with Rolls Royce, but now it is back to lectures, classes, tutorials and assignments.
I normally love the first week back at school. It’s so much easier than the rest of the year as you have no assignments hanging over you, and the lectures/ classes tend to be shorter as they are mainly just introductions to the course. I love the fresh start.
The last couple of days however I’ve felt a bit of a frantic mess! I’ve never had timetable clashes before or any options in the subjects I have to study, so I’ve had a few big decisions to make and loads of chasing up/ sorting out to do trying to get my timetable sorted.
It hasn’t exactly helped that I’ve had cold on top of cold and been ill in other ways too. Today I resorted to a lemon and maple syrup drink with added cinnamon to try and help me feel a bit better. Magic stuff is cinnamon- the number of amazing properties it has to it really surprises me and I’m determined to incorporate more of it into my diet. I’ve also started taking my vitamin tablets again as I want to be as healthy as possible this year because last year I seemed to be constantly ill and it made me even more miserable than I was already with the workload and group work problems I had! What things do you do to keep illnesses away?

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I’m currently…

I’m currently sat in my boyfriend’s car, keeping the fella company, while he tinkers around in the engine bay wiring up some new indicators after knocking the old ones out in a little accident we had last weekend. The road was wet and the car decided to do some slow-mo pirouettes into a bushy verge which made a bit of a mess of the fibreglass valance, put a few dents in the front side panels (which are only in primer at the moment!) and meant he had to get the tracking redone. Luckily neither of us were hurt, and the engine was fine so we were able to pick up the pieces, get back in the car and drive home safely.

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Did make me appreciate how lucky we are being alive and well though!

We had just come back from Birmingham where my boyfriend came to spend the weekend with me at my new university residence (he’s nicknamed it the ‘penthouse suite’ due to being on the top floor of the apartment block).

We were blessed with hot weather and decided to make the most of it by visiting a nature museum- which really was a small animal park, with animals ranging from rare breeds of sheep and pig to tamarind monkeys, wallabies and red pandas.

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 The fella even joked that he saw a “rare wild capri”!!!

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On the Saturday night we decided we would see the new “Dredd” film- I wasn’t expecting much after the last film we saw together (Bourne Legacy) was awful. I was actually really impressed with Dredd even though there was a lot of ‘gore’ the plot was very good, the action, wit and acting was fantastic. So much so that when we got back home we went to see it again, this time with my fella’s housemates.

Unfortunately as my boyfriend wasn’t on holiday this week like I am at the moment, he had to go back to work on Monday leaving me to try and get some of my jobs done while staying in the piece and quiet of his house. Well… that didn’t happen! The most I got done was to take the 7GB of photos off my iPhone and put them in the correct month folder on my computer. Not a productive 3 days.

I did get to see the tour of Britain go past near Carlisle though.

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After the lack of productivity at the start of the week, boy did Thursday make up for it! I managed to get a letter sent to my auntie in Australia (longgg over due!), my claim form for disabled students allowance done (hello £250!), my student finance done, bought a birthday present for my friend who I’m visiting next week,  bought things for my dad, laundry etc , and excitingly managed to finish of my diary I’ve been trying to get done for the last 3 weeks!

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I am so so pleased with the results!

I’ve been moved to the garage now (I’ve got a luxury bucket seat to sit in!) as he wanted to wash the car and he didn’t know if there would be any leaks- didn’t want me to get my laptop wet!!!

This weekend I want to try and get a happy medium between lots of rest/ doing pleasurable activities as well as being a little bit productive (does writing this post count?)- such as being treated to lunch today in the filling station café 😀

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and a little bit of shopping- do you like my new disco ball like bauble? Should sit pretty in my uni room window- catching the light to make colours dance across the walls.

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And of course the odd thing for my boyfriend- I managed to find him his new indicator lights at the scrap yard this afternoon. he says it was a date! Cheeky! haha 

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How are you going to play out your weekend? Are you trying to achieve lots, or are you having a relaxed time with lazy Sunday brunch?

Zoe xxxx

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September 15, 2012 · 5:58 pm

Moving forward.

It’s been a long time since I’ve actually post anything to this blog. Don’t get me wrong it’s not that I haven’t wanted to it’s just that there’s been a lot of things getting my way. I have written a few blog posts I just haven’t actually posted any of them, as I either wrote them where I didn’t have internet connection or I wanted to go back and edit them.

This year I’ve had more than my fair share of life experiences.

I’ve moved from my childhood home in the English Lake District in the middle of my end of year exams, gone through huge medical problems with a close friend (which nearly killed both of us with the effort we had to put in to get where we are now!), and then had to move house again  (which involved a lot of complications, disappointment and frustration).

I’ve also been doing a summer placement which had it’s own frustrations, but I’m glad to say that I finished that yesterday.

This month for me is all about trying to sort myself out, pick myself up and get ready for the coming academic year. Given the way the last year turned out, I need to be as prepared as possible for the next one!!

I’ve got a number of things I want to achieve before I go back to uni later this month, and I hope to share some of these things with you as I go along now I have a bit more time.

here’s a mini list of some of the things I hope to do:

  • firstly I want to finish a diary I’ve been making- a printable. If you guys like it, I might post the second 3 month instalment in December ready for the new year. I’m really excited about this one!
  • unpack in my new flat and decorate my dorm room- I’ll post about my room sometime 🙂
  • do some baking! I haven’t been able to do any in ages due to moving house and not having a proper kitchen to work in, so a good cookie and brownie making session is in order!
  • practice handwriting- mines got pretty sloppy while at uni so I need to get ‘back to school’ on this one!
  • most importantly remember to actually get around to posting on my blog! I hope to at least once a week this month, but I also post on instagram pretty much everyday, I’m @zoerawr should you like to follow my feed!

Big hugs to anyone else who’s had a hard year this year, hoping this month will be better for you also!

See you soon

xx

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