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    10 Ways To Save Money At University

    rawpixel-570908-unsplashBeing a student is an expensive business. It is also probably the first time in your life that you have had to completely fend for yourself, and you suddenly realise how difficult it is to be responsible with your money. I can guarantee you that if you haven’t already, you will go a little crazy on the spending with your sudden freedom from living at home, only to go food shopping and have a little cry in the fridge aisle at the price of a block of cheese.

    Whether you are just starting university and haven’t got much experience yet, or are a couple of years in and still haven’t got the skill down, here are some tips for how you can spend a little bit less (and leave yourself with more to have FUN with). . .

    1) Loyalty cards for supermarkets – if you drive, you can also swipe them when paying for petrol

    Sure, it usually takes quite a while to actually save up enough points to get any money off, especially when you are just shopping for one, but you are buying the food anyway and it isn’t making any difference whatsoever. It’s silly not to.

    2) Walk that extra bit further to get to an Aldi or Lidl

    The amount of money that you can save by going to Aldi or Lidl if you have one near you is crazy. I had never been to one before moving to Glasgow because it’s not convenient at all to get to one where I’m from, and I remember being so shocked at how ridiculously cheap everything is without skimping too much on quality. In fact, there are a lot of things that I actually prefer the Aldi version of. When I bring my overflowing basket to the checkout, it never adds up to as much as I estimate in my head.

    3) Invest in a good travel mug and take your coffee with you from home 

    Shops like TK Maxx are perfect for these kind of things, and so are little coffee shops around your campus. Those double-walled ones are great because they keep your drink warm so long and you can sip away the whole lecture. The same goes for bringing a water bottle with you! (And you’ll save all those sea turtles while you are at it)

    4) Or, if you really must buy a coffee out somewhere, still bring your own re-usable cup with you

    Most places now give a discount if your bring your own, so if you are buying it regularly, this little saving will really add up. Places SHOULD also fill your water bottle with tap water for free if bring it with you and ask very nicely.

    5) Free Microsoft Office

    Don’t pay for your Microsoft Word package! Students can get the full Office package through their university. Just search ‘Microsoft Office student’ and log in using your student log in.

    6) Batch cook and freeze into portions

    You can also save money by cooking larger portions of whatever you are having for dinner and putting the rest in the freezer in portion-sized boxes. I like to use little random boxes like plastic takeaway ones for this because they are the perfect size. Batch cooking means that you can often use up all of your ingredients rather than them going off if you cook it for just one dinner. I particularly enjoy this cheesy broccoli pasta bake. I use frozen broccoli instead of fresh broccoli because you never need it all, and it tastes just as good.

    7) Charity shops

    They aren’t like the ones in your tiny little hometown. Charity shops in cities are goldmines for amazing bargains, whether it is clothes or little knickknacks for your room.

    8) Don’t buy food out after the club 

    Stock up on the types of things that taste delicious when you have some alcohol in your system (I’m talking chicken burgers, mozzarella sticks, the works) and just wait till you get home after a night out to cook them rather than spending a fortune while you are out and then not eating half of it because you ordered a ridiculous amount that sounded like a great idea at the time. Of course, safety first please!!! I have the scars on my arm to prove that oven trays are very warm things to drop onto yourself when you are too drunk to be cooking!!! NO COOKING IF YOU ARE TOO WRECKED. LEARN FROM MY BAD BAD CHOICES.

    9) Book bloggers: ARCs are your friend!

    Sure, this only works if you have the time to write the review on them too and do all the work that comes along with review copies, but it will probably satisfy your craving for reading anything but your course reading list.

    10) Flat money jar 

    My flatmate and I have the perfect system for buying shared items for the flat, such as milk, toothpaste, and anything else that we don’t need two of at any time. We keep a jar in the kitchen and both put the same amount of money in, e.g. £20 each or whatever we can afford at the time, and any time either of us buy a shared item we take the money back out the jar for it. This means that we are halving the price equally each time, and neither one of us can end up buying more of the shared things than the other if we try and fail to do it evenly. And no chasing people for half the cash! It would seem silly to ask them for 50p for half the milk, but if you were the one that kept buying it, it would really add up. As long as you both (or all, I’m saying both because I live with just one other person) always put in the same amount whenever it needs topped up, it’s the fairest and cheapest way to do it.

    I hope this helps! If you have any money-saving tips of your own, whether you are a student or not, please feel free to share them below.

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    Learning Basic British Sign Language

     

     

    A little bit of a different kind of post today. For the last couple of weeks, I have been attending a Beginners British Sign Language course run by my university. The course is 20 lessons in length, with two-hour classes one night per week. BSL is something which I have wanted to learn for some time now, probably ever since I watched Switched at Birth and was fascinated by this language told completely in hand gestures and facial expressions.

    And then, during the summer when I was working in a local café before going back to uni, I served a deaf couple. They were very understanding, and didn’t expect us to know anything in the way of sign language at all. They wrote down what they wanted to ask us, and were able to make very simple signs and point at things to order. But, this encounter has really stuck with me ever since. All I could actually say to them that they could fully understand was ‘thanks’. That’s it. An entire language, and I can say thanks.

    Read more

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    5 Things, lifestyle, list, personal, student

    5 Things: What To Do When It All Gets A Bit Much

    I have had this blog post sitting in my drafts for a while, and this week seemed like the perfect time to pull it back out. There were no words in it, just the title so I could come back to it. Writing this introduction after I have finished writing the rest of the post, I can safely say that one of the things that I can to when it all gets a bit much, is write. So I guess that goes with number 5.

    We are halfway through week 2 of semester 1 of year FOUR of my degree. This is my last year at university, my honours year – also known as the year. This is the year that everything rides on, and every grade counts towards what level of degree I am awarded with at graduation next summer.

    If you have finished a degree yourself, you will know that that is a LOT to think about. It is constantly at the back of my head, and has been all summer, but it is just in the last couple of days that it is has really hit home. I was awake until the small hours on Sunday night stressed out my mind at the pressure of it all. I don’t want my last few years to have been a total waste of my time, and I don’t want to be disappointed with my degree next year when I know I could have done so much better if I had just put the work in.

    A lot of this is probably geared towards university stress, t least in my head it is because that’s what I am stressed about, but you can apply it to your own personal situation.

    Maybe this blog post is just as much for me as it is for you. We can all be little balls of stress together. (Or should I say LOVELY CALM PEOPLE together after we all read this blog post???) Read more

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    10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started University

    Oh, uni. Supposedly the best few years of your life. You are meant to make tons of lifelong friends, become a responsible adult and find your ~true self~.

    What isn’t in all the handbooks is the ridiculous stress you will find yourself under and the several pounds in weight you will put on from endless takeaways, nights out, and lack of mum’s good cooking.

    The start of the next university year will soon be upon us, whether you are returning after a long summer off, or just heading off for the first time.

    I am about to enter my fourth and final year, and I can’t believe that is even a sentence I am able to say yet. The time has absolutely flown in – I am 100% not ready for whatever comes after this period in my life. While university – and education in general, for that matter – is not for everyone, it is for me. I have had the most amazing time at university, met the most amazing people that I can call some of my best friends, and grown immensely as a person. My confidence has absolutely soared and I can now strike up a conversation with just about anyone, and voice my opinion where I would have before kept quite and very much to myself (mind you, I still make my mum phone and make my dentist appointments for me. We can’t all be perfect). It was definitely the right choice for me after school, and I want it to keep going forever (ok, maybe not forever, but a couple of years longer at least). For me, the stress of essays and exams and assignments is totally worth it for what I am getting in return.

    As you may or may not know, I am studying English, journalism and creative writing. I also wrote a post on my top tips for studying this at uni (and also WHY you should study it) which you can read here.

    That said, there are a few things about university that turned out a little different to how I expected. I think you leave school with such an image in your head of what university is going to be like, but there is really no preparing yourself completely until you actually there and experiencing it.

    Luckily for you lot, I have compiled a very handy list of a couple of tips and tricks so you are that little bit more prepared.

    Good luck in your next adventure! It will be a blast.

    THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE STARTING UNIVERSITY


    1) You don’t HAVE to join a load of societies. There are other ways to make friends.

    2) It is actually not that big a deal if you aren’t legally old enough to drink yet. You aren’t the only one, and there is always parties to attend. The student union will usually let you in too, as long as you don’t try and buy alcohol or are seen getting other people to buy it for you (read behind the lines here). I was 17 for the entire first half of my first year at university, and I still have friends, don’t I? I still had fun. Yes, it is VERY ANNOYING, but there is nothing you can do about it (apart from get fake ID or borrow your friend’s but that’s always risky and doesn’t often work).

    3) There are some VERY different people out there. Most likely including your flatmates. But there is also your people out there too. People that you didn’t know that you needed in your lives, and didn’t know could even exist. I met my best friend Fiona the first day we moved into student accommodation and were randomly placed in the same flat. Fast forward three years and we are living in a private rent, just the two of us, and have almost merged into one human being. I would never have thought it would be possible to find someone who is literally ME in blonde-hair-and-excellent-eyesight form.

    4) No one cares what you look like when turning up to lectures. Especially 9am ones.

    5) And therefore yes, you can go to your lecture wearing that outfit you grabbed off your bedroom floor after wearing it out the night before. No, no one will notice, or give two shits. My friend once bought me coffee from Starbucks to congratulate me for pulling it off with ease.

    6) Also, no one gives two shits if you walk into a lecture five, ten, FIFTEEN minutes late. They aren’t all looking at you. They are looking at your delicious coffee in a jealous rage, wishing they made themselves late waiting in line for one too. They want to rip it from your fingers.

    7) You won’t love every single day, or every single class. But don’t let that put you off, because maybe the next class you take the year after will be OH MY GOD THE BEST HOUR EVERY WEEK YOU HAVE EVER HAD.

    8) You will feel lonely and down sometimes.You will have off days, and that’s okay. You might even feel like quitting. But the feeling may pass, so give it time. 

    9) Your dinners will never look like they do in the photos of your many student cookbooks. Nor will you ever use those cookbooks after the first month. Or week. Ok, fine. I haven’t opened it at all.

    10) It might be nerve-wracking and utterly anxiety-inducing, but it is SO MUCH FUN.

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    7 Tips for Studying an English Literature or Creative Writing Degree

    I’d like to start off by saying I am absolutely by no means the best student out there. I am lazy and unmotivated and self-deprecating, constantly racked with guilt after spending another day hungover in bed watching Netflix and doing no writing or reading.

    But, I have somehow managed to actually get some extremely good grades over the past three years, some of which I’m not sure I really deserve. In fact, my end-of-year grades for 3rd year were astonishingly good considering my lack of effort as I managed to pass with distinction, which would allow me therefore to (SOMEHOW) graduate just now with a First Class Bachelor of the Arts in English, Journalism and Creative Writing if I wished. However I am continuing on for my fourth year to do Honours level.

    I feel it is only fair to pass on the wisdom I have picked up throughout my time at university. Some of them probably only apply to the creative writing side, but many suit both writing and literature degrees. These degrees open up so many avenues for you in terms of careers – teaching, publishing, writing, pr, copywriting, editing, you name it. I’m not sure yet exactly where I hope my career will take me, but I do hope that it will include writing. I always said I never wanted to be an English teacher, but the closer it gets to the end of my degree, the more appealing it sounds to pass on my love for the subject. 

    Until then, here are some tips for if you are set to start a course after the summer, or thinking of applying in the future. I can’t recommend it enough if reading and writing is your passion.  

    I actually really enjoyed writing this post, so I hope you like it too! A lot of these tips come from my mistakes – just saying.

    DON’T PICK THIS DEGREE FOR INSTANT MONEY AND SUCCESS

    Unlike some types of degrees, and English or Creative Writing degree does not instantly qualify you to do a specific job. If you want to be a teacher, you have to combine it with an education degree or do a postgraduate degree in teaching. Like I said, they open up so many avenues for different careers, but you have to find the one that is right for you, and that is not necessarily going to be glaringly obvious before you start your degree. It is very much a degree to go into with just a passion for the subject, and see where that takes you. I still don’t know where that will be, but I am fine with that. (A little stressed, but mainly fine.)

    Prepare for lots of questions from people asking, “So when do you qualify?” NEVER. 


    READ READ READ

    This kind of goes without saying. The best writers do a lot of reading too. Not to steal other people’s work and ideas, but to improve your own writing skills and imagination. It also helps to not just read ‘good’ writing. I often find myself critiquing writing while I read without meaning to, picking out little mistakes that hopefully translate in my own work.

    DON’T BE AFRAID TO SHARE YOUR WORK

    It is often in class during a workshop that you will get the best ideas for your work. There is something about the banding together of fellow creative minds that can do wonders for your story. You can get ideas you may never have come up with on your own, and rework them to suit your own style. It may be daunting, especially at the beginning when you have no idea who these people are and how dare they criticise your work, but it is really one of the most valuable things about a creative writing course.

    ALWAYS GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO EDIT

    I have some cheek saying this, when I was always the one frantically typing the day the assignment was due and uploading it after barely giving it a second glance because I didn’t have time to edit. This is not the way forward. Learn from my mistakes. You will be sick of hearing this piece of advice from your tutors, but believe them when they say you need a fresh eye. You can’t spot your mistakes, irregularities, or plain stupid writing if you read it straight after writing it. You need to give yourself time to forget the tiny details, almost like you are reading someone else’s writing for the first time.

    This goes for blog posts too!

    YOU WILL HAVE TO DO CLASSES THAT DON’T INTEREST YOU – BUT PERSEVERE

    Depending on your university, you may have varying levels of flexibility when it comes to module choices. This often means you will be stuck doing core classes that are of little interest to you, which I do have a lot of experience of. I’m talking Renaissance literature, scriptwriting, poetry writing – you name it, I’ve done it. But that doesn’t take away from the fact you are still graded on these subjects and you still have to do your absolute best, whether it gets you all hot and bothered or it drives you to the brink of insanity.

    As difficult as it may be, remember that each of these classes are still improving your skills by forcing you to branch out from your comfort zone, read and write different things, and be as amazing at your craft as you possibly can be.

    FIND YOUR BEST WRITING TIME

    Do you work best by getting up at the crack of dawn and heading to the library with your take-out coffee cup when there are hardly any people around? Do you like your long lies and prefer to work in the afternoon? Are you a night owl, happy to sit up to the early hours of the morning typing away on your laptop? Whatever works best for you, stick to it. I definitely don’t work well in the mornings. My brain needs more time to wake up before I can be creative. This also relates to choosing your seminar times, if that is something your university has you do. If you aren’t creative at 9am, then it goes without saying that that is not the class time you should be going for, even if that’s the one your friends are picking.

    WRITE TERRIBLY FIRST

    I do pretty much all of my writing in a word document on my laptop because I much prefer the ability to write anything I want, no matter how terrible, and then be able to delete it without a trace before anyone can read it. Writing it down on paper feels so permanent, and I find myself struggling to get started in case it is shockingly bad. What is difficult to remember, but so important though, is that sometimes the stuff that starts off so terrible can be reworked later into some of your best work. If you don’t get anything down on the page, be it a paper or an electronic work, there is nothing to re-do later. The first draft is made to be deleted.

    I’d love to know if you study a literature or writing degree, so let me know! Do you think a writing degree is essential if you want to be a writer?

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    book review, books, lifestyle, student

    A Grand Welcome

    Three years into my English literature, journalism and creative writing degree and I have come to the realisation that I don’t have all that much experience under my belt outside of university assignments and the plethora of unfinished ‘books’ that I wrote on the ancient family desktop computer when I came home from primary school each day.

    I’ve always loved writing. I was really that kid that reminded my teacher at the end of the day that she had forgotten to give out the homework she promised (I wish that was a joke). I own more books than you could count, so many that there is an honest-to-god crack on my living room ceiling directly below where my bookcase sits in my bedroom. That’s because I haven’t just filled the shelves, but also created a makeshift one on top and surrounded the floor around it in extra little piles. then there is a pile on each of the bedside cabinets on either side of my bed, one in probably every handbag I own, some more randomly dotted around my room, and did I mention I live in the great city of Glasgow for university and have more here too? I think you get the point I am trying to make here.

    I actually recently found a sheet of paper in my cupboard signed Holly, age 7 from the time I started my own newspaper. I called it The Holly Gazset (creative) and spent the whole one page detailing how mummy and daddy and Lewis (my brother) must pay real money for this, it can’t be pretend money, it has to be actual money, instead of reporting any real news. God loves a trier.


    With a bit of luck, and perhaps some effort, I am hoping this blog won’t be one of those many books I tried to write over the years. Of course, I waited until THE BUSIEST UNI YEAR to do this, aka dissertation year and the year I somehow sorta accidentally but very gratefully became the arts editor of the student newspaper.
    I’m not too sure what I can say about what will be found on here, but I feel it is safe to assume that the focus will be along the lines of reviewing books, sharing my delight at the delicious smell of a new book, and even the joys of navigating life as a very clueless 20 year old living away from home. 
    Welcome, and enjoy!

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