15 Things No One Tells You About University

Hello again,

I’ve written university posts before and a lot of people found them quite helpful. This is basically a list of things that no one tells you before you go to university. All I was told is “the work will be a lot harder than A-Levels” and “don’t come home if you don’t get a first”. I’m joking, sort of.

You will be lonely 

Student halls isn’t always the party that it’s perceived to be. Of course there’ll be plenty of times where you’re out drinking hot chocolate with your friends and splashing all of your student loan in the nearest shopping centre. However, there’ll also be times where you’re sat in your room by yourself wanting to pull the bricks from your walls.

Living with girls is just as bad as living with boys 

Let me tell you this, I live on an all girls floor and some of the girls are actual creatures. If we didn’t have cleaners in everyday I’m not sure I’d cope. There’s only so many times I can clean the oven and avoid certain showers before I never want to leave my room again. I promise you I’m not exaggerating. One day I wash into the kitchen and the toaster was toasting thin air. Or maybe they were toasting invisible bread. Who knows?

You’ll end up eating the same meals most days

You work out the meals that are easy and cheap to cook. Then you stick to them.

You will get lost

No matter how many times you’re told what room or block you’re in, it will always happen. Every corridor looks the same.

You won’t have any money 

Unless you’re living off of bank of mum and dad, you’re probably going to need to get a job. Or, you could eat tinned soup for dinner every day. But even that’s expensive.

You don’t need to buy every book on your reading list

You’ll find a lot of them free on Google Books, in your uni library or significantly cheaper as an ebook. If you look at your list and buy everything single one then you’re a fool. And probably a poor fool at that. Save your pennies and don’t buy a book unless it’s absolutely imperative.

The friends you make during freshers might not be your friends by second year, or even October

After a while you’ll find people who share the same interests as you and who you get along with easily. If you don’t find those friends in the first week or even in the first year, it’s not the end of the world and you’ll find them eventually.

You’re going to question if you’re on the right course

I’m sure everyone’s had this thought. There’s going to be some part of your course that you don’t like. Maybe it’s a little part, maybe it’s a big part. Try and remember that there’ll be other parts of your course that you’ll enjoy more because one bad module doesn’t mean that your whole uni experience will be bad. If your course is unbearable, maybe consider other courses?

You’re going to question if you’re in the right uni

Sometimes your lesson will last for half an hour and you’ll think to yourself “why am I paying £9000 a year for this?”

You can wear whatever you want

If you turn up to a lesson looking like you haven’t washed or brushed your hair in 4 days, nobody seem to notice. And when they do notice, they don’t say anything.

Knowing a lecturer for 2 years doesn’t mean they’ll learn how to spell your name, or even remember what your name is

I can no longer be bothered to tell my lecturers if they’re spelling my name wrong and I’ve also been called a few names that are definitely not Courteney before.  It’s all part of the fun. Try and remember that your lecturers speaks to hundreds of students on a weekly basis and might struggle to learn them all. Or maybe they don’t care what your name is.

You need experience to get a job but you need a job to become experienced

This is something that will never make sense to you. Even the unpaid internships want people with experience. I guess it’s one of those things that will never make sense but we just accept anyway. You’ll constantly ask yourself “how am I supposed to gain experience if I can’t get a job?” Don’t worry – everyone else is thinking the same thing.

Toiletries are EXPENSIVE

I literally paid £2.20 for Colgate mouthwash the other day. I’m pretty sure I could feed myself for a day on £2.20. You never really appreciate the cost of shampoo, conditioner, body wash etc etc until you move out.

You’ve never needed student discounts more than you do now 

Whether it’s free delivery on Deliveroo or a cheap cinema ticket, you’re going to need your student discount at some point. If you sign up to UniDays, you can see all of the discounts available to you. Check this before buying ANYTHING. Food, a laptop, a new coat, anything. Chances are, there’ll be a discount code for it.

Buying your own food is actually really fun

…until you have to carry it back from Morrisons by yourself.

As always, thank you for reading.

Hopefully you found this useful! If you don’t, hopefully you’ll feel sorry for me instead…

Ways you can reach me:

Bye for now,

Courteney x

 

Winning a Pug and Attempting Ice Skating | December 2016

Hello again,

This year me and Cem have probably spent a little too much time playing games and trying to win teddies at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. We’ve also been ice skating twice, so our time there definitely wasn’t wasted.

The first time we went ice skating it was raining and cold so I spent the whole hour shaking and trying not to slip over. My motivational for not slipping over was wanting to stay as dry as possible. Luckily, the second time we went there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and although it was still cold, it was an improvement from the first time.

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One of the best part of ice skating is probably watching over people fall over. I’m sure it’s not funny when it happens to you, but it’s nice to see peope laugh off their fall and get up and try again. Me and Cem didn’t fall over at all, seeing as we spent the entirity of each time clinging to each other for dear life. Also, if one of us was about to fall, the other one had to keep them on their feet. I will say that I had to save Cem a lot more than he had to save me, although he’ll probably say otherwise.

Maybe next time we go we’ll learn how to skate as individuals.

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As well as ice skating, we probably played every game they had: shooting targets, hooking ducks, smashing plates and basketball. After maybe two attempts at a basketball game, You only had to one ball into the hoop to win the biggest prize, but the hoop was far away and an irregular shape and size – it was a lot harder than Cem makes it look.

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Cem’s prize was a huge pug! It may not be a real one, but it still has it’s rightful place in my tiny student room. It’s so big that all the way home people were touching it and laughing at it.

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Another highlight for me was getting to drink tastiest hot chocolate in the world. Most stands there seem to sell it. It’s simply a ‘Luxury Hot Chocolate’ which consists of Cadbury’s hot chocolate, whipped cream and a Flake. Heaven.

As always, thanks for reading.

Let me know if you’ve ever visited Winter Wonderland. If you have, what was your favourite thing about it?

Ways you can reach me:

Bye for now,

Courteney x

 

Oxford Street Christmas Lights | November 2016

Hello again,

Since I moved to London last year I’ve been waiting to see the Oxford Street Christmas lights being switched on. I didn’t make it last year so I was really looking forward to going this year. Honestly, I’ve been counting down for weeks.

On Sunday me and Cem went to see the lights being switched on by Craig David. We could just about see on a screen near where we were standing that there were performances from Louisa Johnson and The Vamps. I wasn’t too fussed about either of these performances seeing asI’m not a fan. Sadiq Khan made an appearance though, as you can just about see from the screen we were stood next to.

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Although the lights were supposed to be turned on by 6:15pm we waited a good 45 minutes to see them, but they didn’t disappoint once they were finally turned on. However, we did stand shaking in the cold because neither of use thought to bring a hat or gloves. In our defence, we didn’t think we were going to be stood still for that long. We joined in with the 10 second countdown and watched the street light up above our heads.

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We were stood right outside Oxford Circus tube station because we thought we were going to be late so didn’t want to spend ages trying to find a good spot to see the lights when we could see quite well from where we were already standing. There was a lot of pushing and shoving involved from people who were determined to get the first pictures of the lights but we could still see them all perfectly.
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After looking at the before and after photos of the lights, Oxford Street just doesn’t look right when they’re turned off. I didn’t realise just how much of a different a few lights could make to a street.

When the crowd started to disperse I decided I really wanted to try one of the Costa Christmas drinks. Having seen the queues of people also lining up to try the drinks, I decided to leave it for another day…

UPDATE: I tried the Lindt hot chocolate today and it was amazing.

As always, thanks for reading!

Let me know if you’ve been to see the Oxford Street lights and tell me what you think of them…

Ways you can reach me:

Bye for now,

Courteney x

 

University Survival Tips

Hello again,

Now I’m in my second year of university and I’ve had a full year of uni experience, I thought I’d share some of the things that kept me sane throughout my first year away from home. If you didn’t know, I moved from Cornwall to London to study Journalism at LMU.

Personalise your room

This one is so important. When I moved in to my room the first thing I did was rearrange all the furniture to how I wanted it and changed the horrid red curtains and bed sheets for ones I bought myself. Other things that I used to decorate my room are fairy lights and LOTS of candles. If your room looks dull and boring then you’ll feel dull and boring when you’re in it.

Eat proper homemade food

Anyone that’s been to university will know how easy it is to put on weight or just become really unhealthy. Not only is it better for your diet but it’s also a lot better for your budget to stop eating so many takeaways. I’ve seen so many people run out of money really quickly because they’ve spent all of their money on takeaways and alcohol. It’s so much cheaper to just cook food yourself.

Give yourself down time

…i.e. alcohol free time. Freshers is intense and can take its toll on you. Freshers’ flu is REAL. It’s so important to give yourself time to recover from nights out or long weeks at uni. I cherish the days where I can stay in bed past 7:30am and do nothing. Giving yourself time to recharge is so important. It’s also really nice to turn up to a lecture fully awake and hangover free.

Stay organised

University can feel really overwhelming at times, especially when you’ve got deadlines coming up for all of your modules. I’m a person that likes to stay really organised. One of the ways I do this at home is having a big wall calendar above my desk so I can see how close deadlines are and I can easily remember any important dates. It just makes sure I don’t forget anything important.

Don’t clean up after other people

I used to clean my kitchen regularly even though it wasn’t me leaving food all over the over or blocking up the sink. I thought it was easier to just clean up every time I wanted to cook but eventually learned that it’s better to stop cleaning up after everyone so they realise that they have to clean up after themselves. As soon as I stopped cleaning the oven and counters every morning and night, the girls I live with seemed to make more of effort to do it themselves.

Apply for jobs like they’re going out of fashion

When I moved to university last year, I was sure that I was going to wait until I’d settled in properly to start applying for jobs. Three days into living in London, I was applying for so so many jobs. I hated the thought of not working and not having a source of income. I know a lot of people who really struggled to survive on their student loan within the first few months. If you’re bad at budgeting, I’d consider getting a part time job if I were you. That being said, don’t work so much that you can’t do your uni work because that totally beats the point of going to university in the first place…

Thanks for reading!

Let me know if you have any uni survival tips…

Ways you can reach me:

Bye for now,

Courteney x

5 Tastier, Cheaper and Healthier Alternatives To Help You Cut Out Fizzy Drinks

Hello again,

This year, one of my new year’s resolutions was to stop drinking fizzy drinks. So far it’s going really well as I’ve found myself trying new things that are actually a lot tastier, cheaper and healthier than fizzy pop.

Iced tea

Recently I’ve been loving iced tea. I buy a tub on granules from Lidl, mix it will hot water (the granules don’t dissolve very well with cold water, as you can imagine) and put it in the fridge to cool. When it’s cool, I drink it with some ice and maybe a slice of lemon. Although we’re still very much in winter, I’ve been enjoying the refreshing coolness of iced tea – it makes a change from my usual tea or coffee. I can definitely tell that this is going to be my favourite drink this summer.

Smoothies

Since I got my Breville Blend Active I’ve been making smoothies quite a lot. My favourite smoothie consists of a mix of berries, yoghurt and maybe a banana. As well as being refreshing they’re also useful if you don’t have to prepare breakfast or you need to grab a snack as you’re walking out the door. If I know that I’m going to be busy on a certain day then I’ll make a smoothie that I can grab out of the fridge on the way to uni or work. That being said, I’m not recommending substituting hot meals with smoothies. However, I will tell you that drinking a smoothie is a lot better than working all day on an empty stomach.

Water (…duh)

In the new year I made it my mission to try and drink a lot more water. I’ve been trying to take a bottle of water with me everywhere I go because if I’m at home and I have a choice between water or juice then I’ll never drink water.

To help me drink more water I’ve been using the Water Log app, where you can set yourself targets and record how much water you drinking each day.

Homemade milkshakes

I’ll admit that this is not the healthiest drink option in the world but I can imagine that milkshakes contain a lot less sugar than fizzy drinks, depending on the ingredients you use. You can make a milkshake with just milk and a flavour, such as coffee, or you can add other ingredients such as ice-cream. I sometimes make vanilla ice-cream and coffee milkshakes on mornings that I don’t fancy eating anything for breakfast – they’re filling and quick to make.

Also, if you’re think you’re due a treat then you can add whipped cream with some sauce drizzled on the top. Mmmmmm.

Fruit juice

As long as they’re low in sugar, fresh juices are a lot healthier than fizzy pop. When you’re in the supermarket just have a look at the different cartons of fresh juice and see which one contains the least amount of sugar. Obviously if you choose something like Sunny D then you’re not going to get very far in terms of cutting your sugar consumption.

Thanks for reading!

If you have any, I’d love to read your smoothie and milkshake recommendations – I know I’ll get bored of mine sooner or later.

Ways you can reach me:

  • Email: courteneynoonan@hotmail.co.uk
  • Twitter: @courteneyjn
  • Instagram: @courteneynoonan

Bye for now,

Courteney x

Review: Breville Blend Active

Hello again,

As soon as my grandparents gave me the Breville Blend Active for my birthday, I just knew that I was going to love it. I’ve wanted to buy it for so long but just never got round to it. Now I’m living on my own I’ve found myself juggling a lot of things and I often forget, don’t have time or just can’t be bothered to make a proper meal. Making smoothies is so simplistic and quick that I now save a lot of time when preparing food.

Although I don’t drink smoothies for this purpose, having a Blend Active is useful if you want to monitor what you’re eating. I use it to try and eat more healthily, which can be a struggle when you’re a student. There are so many recipes on the internet, and especially on Pinterest, which you can save to your phone for inspiration. The ingredients that you need to a smoothie a so basic and cheap too –  a lot of people assume that fruit has to be expensive (this is a fib).

I mainly use frozen fruit in my smoothies, which consists of: blackberries, raspberries, grapes, blueberries and currants. I also use yogurt and ice or juice instead of milk as I don’t like the idea of mixing milk with fruit. I usually prepare portions of fruit in tubs in my freezer to make the process a little more convenient – this saves worrying about adding too much yogurt or not enough ice etc.

You can also use other ingredients such as protein powder, vegetables or oats. This all depends on the flavour that you want your smoothie to be and the reason you want to make smoothies. Is it for energy? Is it to save money? Is it for convenience? Is it for diet?

I would highly recommend the Blend Active, or any blender for that matter, to anyone who loves fruit and vegetables or anyone who is looking to change the way they eat.

You can buy the Breville Blend Active here for just £19.50 – it’s on sale!

Thank you for reading!

Please post your smoothie recommendations in the comments if you’ve found some tasty ones!

Ways you can reach me:

  • Email: courteneynoonan@hotmail.co.uk
  • Twitter: @courteneyjn
  • Instagram: @courteneynoonan

Bye for now,

Courteney x

6 Freshers Tips for Starting University

Hello again,

I’ve been living in London for 3 weeks now and have just come to terms with the fact that Freshers is officially over – we had our final Freshers party a couple of nights ago. Boo!

From my experience with starting university and attending my classes for the first time, I thought I’d generate a list of useful advice for those who haven’t yet started university. Most of these are quite obvious but I hope that you find this helpful anyway.

Enrolment

If you’re only just applying for university, you probably haven’t yet thought about the moment where you’ll receive your student loan. Before I started university, nobody told me that I would have to wait until I had fully enrolled at university, and then a few days for the bank to sort itself out, for my student loan to come through. Knowing this, I would advise you to enrol as soon as you possibly can. The longer you leave it, the more out of reach your money is. This could end up causing you problems with rent, bills etc.

Student Discount

Make the most of your student discount! Sign up to UniDays for all of the online and in-store discounts. All you have to do is confirm that you’re a student using your university email address. Also, if you have a student bank account, some banks – such as Lloyds – send you a free NUS card. That’s the card that most shops will ask for in order to give you a discount. My university also offers a discount card that can be used in the on-site cafes and bar. Nothing tastes as good as a heavily discounted hot chocolate from Costa Coffee.

Socialise

This is essential. Nobody wants to be one of those shy students that hesitates to go to events or talk to new people. If you don’t throw yourself in the deep end and attend freshers events, you’ll definitely regret it. I’ve met some amazing people just by talking to them in class or socialising at the events. Remember, everyone’s in the same boat as you so nobody’s going to judge you for introducing yourself. Also, a lot of Freshers events are free so you don’t have to bankrupt yourself for the sake of making friends. Look out for the “FREE ENTRY” and “FREE FOOD” signs.

Notes

Take as many notes as your poor hand can handle. Write everything down. You will not remember it. This doesn’t just mean taking notes about what you’re studying. Write down timings, room changes, directions, EVERYTHING. You don’t want to be the only one getting lost and struggling to find a room because you forgot to write it down. Also, you don’t want to be late or miss out on something because you forgot to write down the time you’re supposed to be somewhere. Even taking a screenshot of your online timetable is useful. I would also recommend keeping a diary, especially if you have 4 different classes and 4 different lots of homework a week like I do.

Cook

No student loan or grant will enable you to survive on Dominoes or McDonalds for the entirety of the year. At some point, you’re going to have to turn on the oven, or microwave if you’re only a beginner. Not only will this save you a lot of money, it will be better for your diet. You need to be properly fed in order to attend all of your lessons and be able to concentrate.

Organisation

This one sort of links in with note taking. By organisation I mean keeping a diary, pinning things on the noticeboard in your room, setting phone reminders and alarms. All of these things will stop you from forgetting important information. The first couple of weeks of university are quite hectic. You need to find a way to balance looking for a job, attending classes, meeting friends, doing homework and loads more. Like a said before, WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. This will prevent you from having to deal with unnecessary stress, hassle and confusion.

Thank you for reading!

I really hope that you found this useful and can take some of this advice, even if you’re not going to university.

Ways you can reach me:

  • Email: courteneynoonan@hotmail.co.uk
  • Twitter: @courteneyjn
  • Instagram: @courteneynoonan

Bye for now,

Courteney x