The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Student 101: home sweet home

Final year student Lucy Firth gives advice about living away from home

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Millions of students across the country move to university each year to embark upon a new life, living away from home as a student. From my experience, being a fresher, essentially the ‘newbie’ in the university world, is both exciting and daunting. Let’s face it: waving goodbye to delicious home-made meals, a blazing fire and even more importantly, close family, friends and the dog isn’t easy. On the positive side, settling into the initially unfamiliar surroundings of university halls and later, into a shared flat or house, can be a piece of cake if you take note of the following tips.

Having a nicely decorated room, with little reminders of life at home really makes a difference. So when you’re taking that mad last minute trip round IKEA, filling the trolley with lots of ‘necessities’ that your parents will feel obliged to pay for, focus on buying bright, colourful items such as a rug or an art print to form a focal point of the room. Also, as we tend to associate home life with being warm, cosy and relaxed, soft cushions and bedding are a definite must-have. Photographs of special occasions with close family and friends serve as a nice reminder of happy moments and can help stave off homesickness in those difficult initial weeks. Listening to your favourite music, reading a book or even enjoying a cuppa from your special birthday mug all help to create a homey feel. Don’t forget to bring your favourite teddy- everyone secretly has one!

Whether you’re a fresher or a final year student, actively participating in university life is essential. This can be through joining societies, attending course social events or simply getting out and about to see what the city has to offer. As everyone is in the same boat, it is important to work as a team and but also learn to be independent. Once the fresher’s hype has died down and the essays start to pile up, simple pleasures such as a home-cooked meal can really make your day. So find a tempting recipe and create a home from home feel by cooking a meal and watching a film together with your new friends. Organising a monthly social event for your degree programme is a great way to get to know other like-minded students and that initial ice-breaker might be the start of a budding friendship.

It’s normal to feel homesick from time to time but family members are only a phone call away. As final year students, my friends and I still miss home in term-time but we’ve acclimatised to university life and live it to the full! You’re only a student once so enjoy it!