University: Choosing Your Housemates

Having lovely or nightmare housemates can make or break your university experience. I wrote about having nightmare housemates a few months ago (amazingly winning a Chromebook in the process – thanks Currys!), and now it’s time to write about choosing your housemates to make sure you have the best year.

 photo 2014-07-08105917_zps6e2cc3e9.jpgI was lucky when I first arrived at university, picking up some friends either in the first lecture, or even on Facebook before I arrived. I actually introduced one set of friends to the other to fill up the last room in your second year house, and whilst I was terrified they’d all hate each other, it worked brilliantly. So much so that three of us are continuing to live together next year after placements end (SO excited). But I have heard of many people not getting on with their housemates, despite being friends at first, and I’ve come up with some ideas of what you might want to think about before deciding to move in together;
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Coursemates or Not?

For me, I’m not sure I could live with someone doing the exact same course as me (I have fixed modules, so everything would be the same). I’m just not convinced I’d ever have chance to get completely away from the study side of things. On the plus side, you’d always have someone to walk to those 9am lectures with!

Libby does a very similar course to me, roughly half our modules are the same, and I personally found that a great balance. Always someone to ask for help, but I didn’t feel like I had to continually compare my progress.

I’d also be wary of living with someone studying a completely different course. Our house was made up of an architect, a forensic scientists, and us two mathletes, so we weren’t hugely similar. But they were all courses with significant contact hours – I’d avoid living with someone doing a lot less than you, as you don’t want them to be inconsiderate when you have a 9am the next day!
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Similar Interests

I love cooking, and so a decent kitchen was on my list for a house. It made sense that my future housemates felt the same way, and luckily we ended up with a small (but perfectly functioning) kitchen that produced many delicious cakes and bakes. Featuring: Peanut Butter Caramel Cake!

We also had lots of other things in common; one housemate was from where I grew up; two of us loved dogs; another two were pretty much beauty addicts. The only slight issue was the love of candles combined with the fear of fire, but we got around that.

And the best thing – we all loved the Great British Bake Off!
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Finances

I personally get a little bit jealous of people that have plenty of money to live on at university. It’s a bit selfish I know, but I can’t help it! I’m on the minimum loan, and my parents help me out as much as possible, but if I wasn’t receiving an academic scholarship I wouldn’t be there. It’s important to work out that you all have a roughly similar budget, or there will be regrets and tensions when you do find somewhere.

It’s also good to iron out how you will be paying bills if they aren’t included. All putting an equal amount in each month, or splitting them off and evening it up at the end?

Other Halves

Possible a strange thing to consider, but I’d think about it anyway. If your future housemates are in relationships then it’s important you all get along with each other’s partners. If not, it will just be an awkward atmosphere.

You might also want to think about whether anyone will likely be left overnight on their own a lot. I think we managed to avoid this on the whole in second year – and it obviously depends on the area you are living in as to whether it’s a big concern. It wasn’t for us when we first moved in, but a few incidents around this time last year made us a bit more aware!
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Food Preferences

This is something I’ve thought about more this year, renting a spareroom. I live in a small two-bed house with my landlady (her partner, three large dogs and a cat). She’s a vegetarian, and I love meat. I’m always wary about cooking something too ‘meaty’ as I don’t want to offend her, plus it clearly makes her feel queasy! It’s not a make-or-break situation, but if you are a die-hard steak fan, I avoid living with a veggie if possible! Or encourage them to have more evenings in the library…

Cleanliness

This is a big problem. You’ll know from this post that my housemates in halls were in general disgusting. Living with clean people was a big issue for me when deciding who to live with. As I’m living with them again next year, I’m sure you can all tell that they were up to scratch!

More seriously though, if you know someone doesn’t do their fair share, and you know that will irritate you, think twice about living with them. Or have a strict rota – we had to implement one for putting out the bins!

Now I just feel like I am being fussy about housemates, but in reality it was so easy for me to find people I wanted to live with – and I can’t wait to live with some of them again next year! How do you find housesharing? Any tips I have missed?

What’s Occurring Wednesday: Body Image

Sunday night’s #lbloggers chat topic set my spark off, and I couldn’t help but write this post. It was all about body image, about how blogger shouldn’t be “thin and pretty.” And to an extent it was lovely, it wasn’t judgmental. I find the girls who take part of these chats are genuinely lovely girls, I’ve made some great friends who I hope to meet in person, and I love my cosy Sundays/Wednesdays taking part.

 photo 2014-09-13150145_zps6a3c57b6.jpgHowever it is true there are bloggers out there who do judge. But even worse are the people who you know in real life, you know, those “friends” who you just know talk about you behind your back? I’m luckily (I hope!) shot of people like that now, but I will admit much of my teenage years was pretty much ruined by behaviour like that.

 photo 10464251_10201833358628057_7137741447011300528_n_zpsda2dc99f.jpgI went to an all-girls school until I finished my GCSE’s. There was the general nastiness all the way through, but a couple of horrendous incidents still make me want to cry even now. The time when one of my best friends accused me of something I didn’t do when we were thirteen? We haven’t spoken since, though luckily the friends she tried to steal away mostly came back. The time I was rather ill, and off school for week? Yep, you guessed it, the rumours flying around were unreal. Pregnancy, drug use, suicidal, and then the backlash of ‘faking it.’ They were my major incidents, but there were so, so, so many others in my form group. I’m not going to go into details, but there was a lot of bullying. I’d say I suffered every single school year from bullying of some kind, some years worse than others, and I’m sure I probably hurt people too, in an effort to fit it (and I’m sorry if I did). Sure, we all had a laugh some of the time, but in reality I’m in regular contact with one, perhaps two, out of these thirty girls. I saw an old classmate on the train a few weeks ago and felt physically sick. It was then that I knew how much those years had affected me.

 photo 2014-09-13150222_zpscf8356a1.jpgYes, I was bullied some of the time. It wasn’t particularly bad bullying, but it was enough to knock my confidence, enough to make me doubt myself. I straightened my hair until it fell out as I wanted to fit in. I hid my (curvy but slim size 10) body in baggy clothes. I started refusing to go out. More than a few lunches went uneaten. Even now I can feel extremely self-conscious around a group of girls. Living with my amazing housemates last year helped loads, as did my lovely maths friends, but I sometimes wonder if I will ever not feel a little bit of regret over my school years.

 photo 2014-11-09162706-1_zps6fa069e9.jpgI was lucky enough to move schools, get great A-levels, meet my soulmate, and make some amazing guy friends (and they do wonders for your confidence – 8 dates to the prom?! Hell yeah!). I went to university and made friends for life on the first night, then again in the first lecture. I have the confidence to wear the clothes I like, slick on a bold lipstick and head out in public. I even (finally) had the confidence to post a full picture of myself on here last week, and that was terrifying! Yes, some of the time I get anxious, but at the moment I’m strong enough to overcome it. I know some people aren’t as lucky, and still struggle now. But I want to tell you this; it will get better. You are lovely just the way you are, so please don’t let those people get you down!

And that is my little rant over. Now look in the mirror and repeat five times ‘I am beautiful’, then head out with a smile on your face. And let it all out – has anyone ever damaged your confidence?

12 Days of Christmas (#4): A Festive Student House

One of the best things about living in a rented off-campus house with friends is that we are able to get really festive and excited for Christmas. Sure some of you get that in halls, but to be honest I had a horrendous experience of that – the tinsel put up was deliberately done at a height to strangle a fellow housemate when she entered the bathroom. I’m pretty sure that sums up my experience! Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed living with friends, and we’ve gone to town on (very tasteful) decorating. We bought a lovely cheap tree from Argos (back at the beginning of October – I promptly confiscated it and banished it to the deep dark depths of the boiler cupboard in my room) along with lights, parents donated unused decorations, and we topped them up with bits and pieces from Poundland (I am seriously impressed with their Christmas range!). We even have table runners and festive looking blankets!

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2013-12-11 08.54.04Now, we all know I’m not a great photographer (namely because of my laziness at moving mess out of shot, and relying on a camera phone) but if you head over to my housemate Libby’s blog you will find a similar post, with amazing pictures of our decorations. One day my pictures will be as good, but relying on a smartphone and being lazy is not a good combination!

We did really well in getting so many decorations off (mainly Libby’s) mum, however I’ve come up with a fabulous idea to make sure my future children are never without Christmas decorations when they fly my nest. Every year I will add a different decoration to their stocking, and store them up. I think this is a great idea for a tradition, and one of many I wish to start. Oh, I love Christmas!

 

How do you decorate on a budget?

 

Birthday Thanks

It was my birthday a few quite a few days ago, and I’ve been meaning to do this post since to show you all what fabulous friends I have. Now, I now we are all in the same boat, all on a very tight budget, and so I really don’t expect gifts at all, let alone some of the wonderful things I received. Everything I was given was just totally ‘me’ and I love it all – it shows what great friends you have when everything they buy you is perfect!

2013-12-05 10.27.41Here’s just a selection of what I got!

  • First up is the canvas at the back. Amazing, my housemate actually painted that herself. When I realised she hadn’t bought it, I feel in love with it that little bit more. It’s absolutely stunning, and will look good in both my student room, and my dream-bedroom I’m planning for when I finally have my own house.
  • Then there’s the apron in the corner, which another housemate asked her mum to make for me (seriously wish I had a mum that could sew, let alone wishing that I could sew something like this!). Between this and another friend gifting me a recipe binder, you’d think they were hinting at me doing some baking! But honestly, I love both of the gifts, and they will be so, so  useful. Not to mention that a floral apron was actually on my Christmas list!
  • Lots of chocolate, which is helping me get through a period of stressful assessments and placement applications (I so wish there were more actuarial industrial placements available!). Plenty of fluffy socks, which are vital as we have a cold kitchen floor. Plus I love fluffy socks, and wear them pretty much constantly. I have been known (accidently of course) to shower in them…
  • A 2014 calendar, which will go perfectly in my room. And it’swipe clean, so great for tracking assessments and important to-do’s. Looking forward to using this!
  • A new Cath Kidston mug. I love my Cath Kidston mugs, they’re a perfect size for hot chocolates, so I love that I now have two at university!
  • Libby was shocked to hear this year that despite wearing dresses/skirts with tights a lot, I’ve never tried Primark’s super-cosy tights, so she treated me to a pair. Once this horrible wind dies down, and I’m not in danger of flashing anything, I’ll be trying these. Is is weird to be so excited about a pair of tights?
  • I was also treated to some new make-up, and related bits-and-pieces, including a MAC blusher I’ve wanted for five long years. It’s been worth the wait!

But what was my best present? Well, we all went out for a meal for my birthday, and it turns out that everyone had been secretly talking behind my back. It turns out that one of the people I had invited had deliberately agreed, despite knowing she wasn’t coming. Because my wonderful friends had arranged to get my boyfriend down to my university town and surprise me. They’d been planning for WEEKS, everyone knew (including my mother, who nearly let it slip a few hours beforehand!) and they managed to keep it a total surprise, although I did start getting a little suspicious at various points. To everyone who was in on this and made this happen – thank you so much, you will never know how grateful I was to spend my birthday, and an extra few days, with my boyfriend. Those in long-distance relationships will understand!

So that’s it, a quick round-up of my wonderful presents, and my even-more wonderful friends. Thank you guys – I love you all!