Tag Archives: student life

What I’ve Learned In My Second Year

by Cassie Waters

This time last year, I was a ball of nervousness and nostalgia. I finished my coursework in early May and as an English Literature student I spent the exam period drinking Pimms whilst watching my friends revise, leaving me lots of time to think about the approaching end of a very short era. I wasn’t going to be a fresher anymore, I wasn’t going to live in halls anymore, and I wouldn’t be a few doors down from all my best friends. I tearfully moved out of Victory House convinced that my uni experience was practically over, that the next two years were going to be a long lonely drag spent in the library with a ten foot pile of books. Now it’s the end of second year and I’ve realised I couldn’t have been more wrong (the pile of books is only 6 foot). Despite first year’s reputation as the best year, second year has so much to offer and here are some of the things I’ve learnt from it.

Living in a house share:

There is a world of difference between living in halls and living in a house with housemates. Although living in halls presented its own challenges like sharing two microwaves with eleven other people in a kitchen where you might get tetanus if you walked barefoot, it doesn’t compare to facing the tiny practicalities of living in a house of four girls for the first time. In the first week we had nearly had: a fire (I still don’t know how I managed to start a fire in the microwave from a frozen bread roll), smashed the glass in the oven door (my housemate forgot to ‘break’ at the end of her sock slide’) and unknowingly turned the boiler off. We quickly realised we were incapable of living without UEA maintenance and the cleaner on standby, living in fear of when the light bulbs would give out and we’d actually have to change them. We had to wave a swift goodbye to egg fights and water fights in the kitchen – they aren’t as fun when you’re the one who has to clean it up. A new oven door, 4 sets of keys (just mine- thank God for £3.50 cutting at the market!), several almost fires, many cold showers and a traumatising experience of pulling 6 months of hair out of the downstairs shower later and we’re as close to domestic goddesses as we ever will be. I’ve even taken the role of chief spider catcher. Somebody has to do it.

The joys of a cleaning rota:

Back in halls we were constantly receiving passive aggressive notes and warnings off Helen, our frenemy cleaner. I moaned like everyone else each time we got a new letter telling us that there was another reason why our kitchen couldn’t be cleaned properly. How is it possible to have all surfaces cleared but no floors or windowsills obstructed! However, by the time September came around I was on my way to becoming the new Helen. Waking up after our first pre-drinks and seeing the state of the house, I realised that I really was bothered by mess. Without a cleaning rota I would have had to become the housemate that everyone hates, sending snappy messages to the group chat about the state of the bathrooms in the vain hope that someone else would clean it. I spent ages making the cleaning rota, colouring it in with my extensive Sharpie set. I proudly stuck it to fridge, relieved that a piece of paper could save me from my own passive aggression. On the whole it has worked, our kitchen surfaces could still use some TLC and our carpets sparkle from embedded glitter but in comparison to some of our friend’s houses, it’s a show room. Long live the cleaning rota.

Friendships change:

Towards the end of first year I had a very tight group of friends in my flat that I spent all my time with. We had the same sense of humour and we had a closeness that only comes from having lived with each other. I knew that I would miss being flatmates with half of our group but I was sure that we would see each other all the time and that our house would become a crash pad, a base for our group. Unfortunately, it was quickly apparent that this wasn’t going to be the case. After many ignored invites, flaky excuses and a general lack of effort we started to give up. Bigger workloads, distance from houses and new friendships have all contributed to why we don’t see some of our friends very often. It’s not all bad though. I didn’t know one of my housemates – Alice – very well at the beginning of the year. We had mutual friends which was how we were brought together. In her I have found the perfect companion, someone who loves tea nearly as much as I do and we spend most of our evenings sat next to each other in our armchairs laughing at memes or drinking Aldi wine in the garden. One of my old flatmates is a student paramedic and when she’s not on placement she’s often found at ours. She is the perfect honorary housemate who once got out of bed to pick me up from the LCR when I was several drinks past my peak. We’ve made lots of new friends, become closer to some who we didn’t know that well last year and I’m really lucky to have some of my best school friends at UEA with me (coincidence I promise!). My old flatmates are still really important friends to me, but I’ve accepted that you can’t bring everyone along with you.

 Being a real adult (sort of):

Being a first year you are sheltered from some of the realities of adult life. Like bills! Utilities are an almost impossible world to navigate, there are so many deals and how do you sort out splitting them between four people? My housemate is still scarred from the experience of setting up our bills over the summer. This year I also got a job working at an out of school club. It’s great, I get paid to play with Lego and make parachutes out of tissues and plastic cups. It also requires me to get up at 6.15am on Tuesdays which is not so fun. It’s forced me to learn how to balance my time around uni and because of it I spend less time lying on my bed flicking through Facebook when I should be reading. I’ve learnt how to better manage my money; my overdraft hasn’t been used in a long time (which is a good thing – it’s been left in a sorry state!). I still drink too many cocktails (they are the cause of my previous money problems), have too many late nights and occasionally ignore my reading list, but I’m well on my way to becoming the responsible adult I hope I will be one day.

As the end of second year rolls around, I don’t feel the same dread that I felt last year. I’m excited about the prospect of third year, even though it drags me one step closer to leaving UEA. Roll on more house chaos, dissertations and panic about the future. I think I’m ready.

photo courtesy of Tim Trad at https://unsplash.com/@timtrad

Physical Health for Freshers

By Alyssa Ollivier-Tabukashvili

gwnsgnsafqm-brooke-larkAs you dive into a new kind of independence at university, it’s easy to get caught up in a spiral of nights out, drunk takeaways, and then hangover food. Of course, you might not be the type to go out at all, but without your parents or guardian looking out for you, it can be difficult to stay in control of your physical health.

The important thing is to have good habits from the start. Sure, it’s called “Freshers’ Week”, but in reality, freshers’ lasts practically a month, and some treat the entire first year as freshers’ week. If you don’t give yourself boundaries from the first day, you’re likely to develop long-lasting bad habits or fall into a downward spiral.

With this in mind, you can go out, drink (or not), and maybe get that late night take out if you really want, while keeping control throughout the day. That’s to say, eating well, getting into a good exercise routine and drinking plenty of water. These three things can be simple enough if you start right.

– Have a water bottle that you drink from throughout the day so you know how much you’re taking in. You could even have 3-4 disposable water bottles nearby (generally 500ml each) so you don’t ‘forget’ to refill.

– Make drinking this much water a habit. Yeah, you’ll have to pee a lot, but think of how satisfying and detoxifying it is, especially when it’s clear or a light yellow.

– We all get a little carried away when student finance comes in, so if you’re going to splurge, why not on good food? Get yourself some fish, lean meats, eggs, tofu, and then fresh fruit and vegetables. If you’re unsure on how to use them, even a 1kg bag of frozen vegetable mix is all you need to get you going and is much cheaper.

– Everyone has different priorities with finance, of course, so if you decide food isn’t one, you don’t have to buy organic or fresh all the time, if you’re making the minimal effort to get a balance of protein and vitamins then you’re starting well.

– To avoid eating processed and high-sugar snacks, don’t buy them. Easier said than done, but if they’re not there to eat, they won’t be going in your body.

– Also, remember that no one will think you’re strange for turning down a flat take out. Sure, they’re great for bonding with your flatmates, but if consumed regularly they’re costly and unnecessary. Your cooking will impress them far more and you can still eat together.

– For exercise, you have a number of options: join a sports club, this keeps you committed to some form of movement on a weekly basis; join the gym, maybe knowing you spent money on that membership will keep you going; or go for a run for free or use online workouts.

– Even if you’re not motivated to do rigorous exercise yet, going for a decent-length walk multiple times a week is enough to get your heart rate up a bit. Walk a couple rounds of the lake by the Ziggurats (you’ll get a nice Insta-worthy picture that way), or walk into the city centre.

If you are going out and drinking, here are also a couple of things to remember:

Pre-drink reasonably. Pre-drinking is this big phenomenon I only heard about once coming to university. In theory it’s excellent, but in practice, from all that I have seen and heard, it defeats itself.

-Remember to be reasonable then, if you’re pre-drinking to save money, don’t actually buy the drinks at the club after.

– Don’t start so early that you have to keep drinking to avoid ‘sobering up’.

– Even better, don’t buy into the idea that you can only have a good time if you’re throwing up at the door.

– If you are capable of making the decision, don’t get the post-club pizza or chips. All the salt and fats that go into your body after all the alcohol won’t do you any favours- except maybe emotionally.

Most of all, freshers’ week is your fun way to ease yourself into your new life. But it’s important to remember that you can be moderate; you can go out and have fun and drink if you want, but that does not mean that everything else has to be crazy too. Do your body a favour and remove your makeup, have a glass of water next to you, and tuck yourself into bed.

 And when you’re not going out, give your body the best remedy possible: a good night’s sleep.

Image from Unsplash, by Brooke Lark

Feel-Good Brain Food

By Natalie Froome

Feeling sluggish? Finding it hard to concentrate for long? It could be down to what you’re eating.

 It’s hard to get the balance right at uni, students tend to keep odd hours and aren’t known for being the best at cooking, but by getting these 5 foods in your diet you can eat well and improve your mental as well as your physical health.

 1. Wholegrains

Choosing wholegrain options such as granary bread, brown rice and brown pasta could help you to feel more alert during the day as they release their energy a lot slower than their white counterparts.

 2. Blueberries

Their health benefits are plenty, but they can be pretty expensive. Try a place that sells fruit and veg cheap, such as Aldi or Lidl.

 3. Tomatoes

Full of vitamin c, easy to prepare and eat either fresh or cooked.

 4. Broccoli

A great source of iron for energy and a green veg that will help to get some essential vitamins in your system, including vitamin K, which is known to help cognitive function.

 5. Get some Nuts

Nuts are a well known source of vitamin E, which is good for your skin as well as your brain.

Image from Unsplash by Rachael Walker