Tips

Fresher’s Week is Almost Here – So Learn How to Survive It!

Whoo, where have I been? Fighting dragons? Saving princesses? Jail in Mexico? We may never know.

What we do know is that the new University semesters are about to start! So we’ve building up a collection this week of advice for those of you just beginning in your university, and it’s my turn to tell you how to deal with your first week or two.

Let’s begin at the natural starting point – moving in. Everyone is reluctant to leave home, even when you’re super-eager for something new. It’s a radical change, and that is just plain scary. But you want to move in as early as you can and get unpacked, or you’re going to find yourself working around a bunch of other people moving in at the same time! Busy move-in days are very high-stress and do little to put you into that comfort-zone that you want to find as soon as possible in your new surroundings. When you are unpacking, keep the door of your room open; it’s an invitation for people to look in, to know you’re there and to come meet you, the easiest way to start to talking to your new flatmates. Otherwise, make sure you do introduce yourself to them! You’re going to be living with these people for at least a year, so get to know them, make them feel welcome and they’ll do the same for you.

Unpacking fairly quickly can be another point of stress if you worry too much over it, but it also gets you settled into a place that you want to make feel like home. So get your books and your knick-knacks and posters out and on display, and make your room start to feel like yours.

Now, some things that you’re going to want to get:

  • Medicines! Paracetamol and Ibuprofen are your friend. Get some cold and flu meds, too. Fresher’s Flu does exist and it will find you.

  • Vitamins. With lots of students packed together in one place, colds and stuff are going to spread pretty quickly. To build up your immune system, stock up on any vitamins you lack, or multivitamins if you want a well-rounded intake. They’re also helpful in regards to giving you what a usually less-than-healthy student diet will lack.

  • Earplugs are something to consider, as you never know what your neighbours next door, above or below you are going to be like when it comes to TV, music or even stomping around at 4am. Make sure that alarm is loud enough to get through them though!

Now onto the freshers’ fairs. All Unis will have them to help welcome their new students, and they’re a fantastic way to meet people and get acclimatised to what’s going on around you. Attend as many events as you can, experience all those new things. When it comes to joining clubs and societies, just sign right up to any that even remotely catch your interest – sure, you may not attend them or keep an interest for very long, but the thing is, you are never again going to get the chance to partake in these events and hobbies as cheaply and regularly as you can now. Try everything! It’s a fresh start, after all.

Grab a timetable of everything going on and make plans with your flatmates or people you’ve met already from checking out events. Remember, the fair’s events aren’t just for you as an individual; they’re also great for bonding with others, and they also usually take place all around the campus so you’ll get to know the layout pretty quickly (speaking of which, check out your campus library before you buy any of your books on your reading list, as sometimes they’re already there for you to check out for free, or even to buy second-hand). Most importantly, if you’re a freeloader like myself, get all that free stuff! Keychains, cards, vouchers, lanyards, books, posters – there is so damn much on offer to you. Snag it. Snag it all.

You’ll probably want to do some exploring outside of your campus and the fresher fairs, too. So buddy-up, and get out there. Go on a bar crawl, one or two drinks per pub. Check out the places to eat, and the best take-outs. Find a great burger joint, because sometimes you just need a really good cheeseburger (or veggieburger) and there’s only so much McDonald’s a person can stand, y’know?

When it comes to shopping standards, I’d say dump ’em. Find the nearest Aldi, the cheapest places. They food there cooks just as well as anywhere else. Also try to get an idea of bus routes and prices if you want to do some exploring further afield, and check out the taxi services too. Sometimes the university has specially recommended ones.

Absolutely the most important thing, aside from having fun, is to stay safe. Don’t wander off into places you aren’t familiar with alone, and stick to groups of at least three if you are wandering. Drink as responsibly as a student can be expected to. Don’t ruin the fun with things that can easily be avoided with a little sense.

And finally, it’s okay to be homesick. It’s okay to cry and be scared, because everyone is in that same position. Phone your parents and friends, keep in contact with home, never feel that you’re alone.

You’re going to be fine.

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– Meg

Cooking and food shopping. Tips for worrying students.

Everyone needs to eat. Im guessing that if you’re reading this you’re probably pretty familiar with eating, what some of you may not be as familiar with is cooking. Now don’t panic, I am here to give you a quick run through of not only some cooking tips that will (hopefully) change your life but also a few tips for eating on a budget.

 

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First things first, what should you eat? Now this part is entirely up to you and I don’t really have time to go through the recipes for every dish every conjured up so instead im going to leave this entire bit to you and your imagination. What I will do though is say that planning your meals for the week in advance can save you a lot of un needed stress. It also allows you to know exactly what to buy when you go shopping  so that you don’t end up spending precious money on unnecessary items. You don’t have to follow the week plan exactly but It doesn’t hurt to think forward a little bit.

Speaking of shopping, here are a few tips:

1) Give yourself plenty of time, there is no point in rushing around the shop trying to get a full weeks shop, you will end up either panic buying or forgetting essential things.

2) Don’t shop when you’re hungry. Trust me on this one your wallet will thank you, shopping on a full stomach allows you to focus on exactly what you need and not get distracted by all the foods that you want in the moment.

3) Be sure to shop around. Different super markets will have different offers and prices so it never hurts to alternate between a few so that you make sure you get the best price.

4) Make sure you know how much fridge and freezer space you have before you shop. There is nothing worse than returning home with bags of shopping to find that you don’t actually have the room.

 

Now to the crux of the issue. Actually cooking. Cooking isn’t something to fear or shy away from, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make yourself tasty dishes and no one is going to judge you if you occasionally fuck up. The key with cooking is preparation, figure out what the best order is to chop/dice/cut your food and then the best order to cook it. For instance; Making Spaghetti Bolognese  always do the pasta last (It may sound obvious but you’d be surprised) otherwise you end up with burnt pasta as it take the least amount of time to cook. Moving on from actually cooking and eating your food always be sure to clean up after yourself, not just because it will keep your house mates happy but the longer you leave food on a plate/pan etc. the harder it becomes to clean.

To finish off this article I decided I would share with you a few of my favourite cooking tips as well as one or two recipes.

1) When boiling a pan, if you place a wooden spoon over the top it will prevent it from boiling over

2) Quick poached eggs. Boil a pan. Line a cup with cling film and crack in an egg, fold the cling film around and tie it at the end so it looks like a funny egg water balloon. Boil the egginbag for 2-3 mins (make sure water is bubbling). Remove from water and undo the cling film and you’ll have yourself a poached egg. (for a different take, whisk the eggs with a little ham and cheese before placing im cling film to make omelette balls).

3) Making burgers is easy and can be cheaper than buying from a supermarket. Combine a packet of mince(only get lean as a last resort, the fat will hold the burghers together), breadcrumbs (rub a slice of bread between your hands, 2 slices should be enough), an egg and salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix with your hands and form into patties. Should make 8 large burger or 12-14 smaller. Can be frozen. (For added taste add diced onion or anything of your choosing really, I once made a cheese and pickle burger.)

4) Running an onion under a tap before chopping it will prevent it from making you cry.

5) Easy scrambled egg. Combine 2 eggs, a dash of milk(optional) and salt and pepper in a jug and microwave for 3 minutes. Once done remove with a fork while fluffing it and you’ve got yourself scrambled egg.

6) To measure out rice use the method; One mug = One person.

7) For a quick pasta dish; boil water with a bit of salt (and oil if you are so inclined). Then add a handful of pasta (2 hands if you’re really hungry) boil for around 5-10 mins or until the pasta is at the right consistency (a bit soft). Drain and place in a pre heated pan. Mix in a tin of tomatoes, some pepper and a tin of tuna. Stir occasionally for another 5 mins and serve. (For an added treat if you have the time, you can place the dish in a glass tray sprinkle cheese on top and bake for 10 mins for a great pasta bake)

 

Anyway I hope you found this helpful and remember don’t fear cooking, It can save you money and be rather fun. Thanks for reading!

 

-Joe

First Year tips – Making Friends!

When you’re just starting university, there’s a lot of pressure to impress people and come across in a certain way. You’re worried about people liking you, worried about getting along with your flatmates – you’re just worried in general (trust me, I’ve been there!).

But, what I discovered in the first few days is that uni is not like high school – people don’t care about what music you’re into or what books you like or what you wear; basically, if you’re nice to them, they’ll be nice right back to you. So just be yourself – don’t try to don a false persona, you don’t need a gimmick or a façade to make people like you. Just relax and be friendly, and things will seem a lot less scary once you see that everyone else is in the same boat as you.

Actually, that’s another good thing to try and remember in your first few weeks – while I know you may be pretty scared about everything, guess what? So is everyone else. Just like you, everyone else has moved away from home into an unfamiliar environment full of new people, and they all want to feel secure in their new surroundings.

So don’t hesitate to strike up conversations with your peers, even if it’s just saying hi to the girl sitting across from you in class. Little things like that can go a long way, and you may find yourself becoming close friends with someone thanks to something as simple as a wave and a smile.

That’s all for this segment today, so until next time I shall bid you all adieu, and good luck!

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~Steph.

Also, here are links to some of my reviews for any of you who enjoyed this little column and might like to read more of my previous work:

http://picklepantsreviews.com/2014/04/10/skins-a-review/

http://picklepantsreviews.com/2014/04/24/the-perks-of-being-a-wallflower-novel-review/

http://picklepantsreviews.com/2014/03/27/orphan-black-a-review/

 

A Student and Their Cash- A Tale of Love, Passion, and Overdraft Management

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You may come learn many new things as you delve into student life. You’ll enjoy experimental cooking, memorable nights out and (if you’re lucky) shared gazes with another across the dance floor featuring a mixture of hunger, thirst, youthful alienation and passive aggressive sexual tension. All of these are deeply thrilling and enjoyable experiences. However almost all come at a price. That price is money.

 

Keeping and making good cheddar as a student isn’t just a necessity, as you work your way through the year you’ll come to realise it as more of a challenge, or at its best, an art form. For more money means more nights out, and more nights out means more fun, and who the hell is going to argue with fun? It is therefore essential to garner as much advice as you possibly can on cash when moving to uni. So what follows are a few of my own personal tips that I have learnt either the hard way from being bloody stupid, or from treading carefully throughout my first year.

 

At university it is always a sound idea to grab as many membership cards as one can stuff into one’s pocket (or negligee if it takes your fancy.) These cards grant you money off items in big chain stores such as “Next” and “Robert Dyas.” The card I found to be the biggest saver is the student NUS card. Not only does it grant discounts in stores, but it can also grant you discounted tickets to some of the latest gigs at your own university. Another recommended organisation to sign up to is “Student Beans”. It can all be done online and I personally managed to reap some of the benefits of their many vouchers and deals. The biggest find was a discounted student railcard. The rail card Is another absolute must, as it can save you up to a third on rail travel- It makes a great excuse to travel the country.

 

Another top tip is (where possible) buy from local street markets. Fruit and veg off these stalls is not only good quality but can be far cheaper than stores like Sainsbury’s and M&S. If you can try and buy from the vendor towards the end of the day when they close up. Some of them do special deals, as they don’t want to take their wares back home. It also doesn’t hurt to visit “Poundland” where Mcvities goldbars are not only plentiful, they’re cheap.

 

“Whilst it’s all fair and good to save money, what about making it?” I hear you cry. It may not come as a surprise to you, but unless your name begins with “Sheik” or you’re the heir to a billionaire oil baron family, you’ll need a job at uni. That tip is fairly obvious and nothing new, however what people probably don’t tell you is that it is advisable to job hunt as soon as possible. Upon moving in and arriving at your sparkly new world of further education, by all means take a week or two to settle in. But remember that it never hurts to get ahead of the game and grab a small job to keep the wonga rolling in. Leaving it late in the year can lead to a nightmare, as you have to fight your peers for dwindling job vacancies. Remember, at the beginning of a new year shops and pubs are crying out for new employees as their previous 3rd year lot have left university, and thus their jobs. Before you stands a plethora of jobs, but hurry whilst the plethora still lasts!