Money Makes the World Go ‘Round: Budgeting for Students

Financial troubles are one of the biggest causes of stress for students and it’s not surprising. Since a lot of students go from living with their parents, not having to pay for much, to fending for themselves and probably having a lot less money than they are used to, they find it a struggle to stick to a budget. I thought I’d share with you a few tips that I’ve found useful in saving and managing money during my time at uni.

Draw up a budget and stick to it

The best way to keep track of how much money you have is to create a budgeting document. This highlights all the ingoing and outgoing money and from that you can work out how much you have spare to spend each week. I find that the most effective way of doing this on a word document but if you’re feeling it you can transfer it to an excel spreadsheet that you can colour code to easily refer back to. I get very excited over spreadsheets…

After you have drawn up a budget the biggest challenge is sticking to it! What I find helps to combat that is to keep track of everything you spend – I do this on the notes app of my phone – and then you won’t have any nasty surprises next time you check your bank balance. It will also prompt you to make smarter choices if you see what you are actually spending all your money on.

Shop smarter

A great way to save money is to try and go for cheaper shops such as Aldi or B&M. Finding cheaper alternatives to things you can afford to scrimp on will save you a lot of money. I tend to do my weekly shop in Aldi for around £15, whereas in first year I was spending nearly £30 a week in Morrisons! It also helps if you plan out your meals for the week and draw up a shopping list from there so you know exactly what you are getting, rather than aimlessly browsing the aisles.

Be harsh

To save money you have to be super harsh with yourself. If money is tight begin to really question whether you need something before spending the money on it – if you get into the habit of assessing the worth of what you buy you will begin to realise what you actually use and what is a waste of money.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you find yourself knee deep in your over-draft don’t just suffer in silence, speak to someone who may help you lift yourself out of it. Asking your friends and family for financial help may seem daunting and I don’t entirely recommend it but of you are in a really sticky situation the best thing to do is tell someone and they may be able to give you the help you need, whether that is a loan or some advice. Never go to loans companies above people you trust, it won’t end well!

A day in the life of a creative writing and English lit student – sort of

Different university courses have different timetables, unlike school the subject you choose can drastically change the amount of contact hours you have. With creative writing and English literature, I tend to have two to three contact hours per module (six modules in total) which is not a lot in comparison to perhaps a nursing student. However, I have a lot of coursework that is required to be completed in my own time. It’s important to know what is expected of you on your chosen course and to make sure you are prepared to put in the necessary hours. To give you a bit of insight I’ve decided to give you a bit of a ‘day in the life’ post to give you an idea of how I spend my time.

Waking up

Like any self-respecting student, I hate leaving the warm cocoon that is my bed, on Mondays and Tuesdays especially (my dreaded 9am days), I have to set a number of alarms to coax myself out. I’m one of those high-maintenance people who need at least two hours to get ready in the morning, half an hour of which is spent waking up. When I do eventually emerge I zoom through breakfast, shower, general hair and facial improvement and leave the house half an hour before my class starts (at least in an ideal world I do).

Classes

After getting to uni – at a leisurely pace, usually accompanied by a podcast or some music – of course I have to go to class. My timetable is as follows:

  • Monday – 9 – 11
  • Tuesday – 9 – 1
  • Wednesday – 11 – 1
  • Thursday – free day (yas!)
  • Friday – 2 – 4

It may seem far less packed in comparison than someone at school or on a course that required more contact time but it’s still hard work! After class I tended to meet up with my friends, have lunch and just generally unwind for a couple of hours in The Hub.

Homework & errands

Once I get home it’s time for me to begin to mark stuff off my to-do list. I tend to spend a few hours every day doing the uni work that needs to be done, but on some days I also do house work or nip out to the shops or do other general adulty things like that.

Extra-curricular and social activities

I always make sure I have time to do something socially stimulating – or else I’d go insane! On a Wednesday night I go to dance classes, I find that’s a great way for me to relax and forget about work for an hour or so. I also enjoy meeting up with friends in town or just dropping by each other’s houses for a cuppa. It’s important to spend some time being social because if you get so absorbed in work that you don’t leave the house you will soon burn out and that’s not good!

Bedtime and chill

The last thing I do in a day is have a bit of chill time before I go to bed. I try to make a habit of winding down with a film or a book or else I tend to struggle getting to sleep.

Until next time! 🙂

Keep Calm and Carry On

It may only be February but the summer will soon be here and with it will come the stress of exams and deadlines. University and school life can be difficult, you could be under a lot of stress and it may become a bit overwhelming at times. There’s no shame in admitting that you let work get on top of you sometimes, we all have those moments. So here are a few tips of how to keep calm during those stressful work periods and they will hopefully have a positive effect on your mental health and performance level.

Do something you enjoy

You may struggle to relax when you have a lot of stressful things to think about but it is important to take time out of your day to do something you really enjoy and find relaxing.
This can be anything from taking a relaxing bath, reading, watching a film or playing video games. Taking a break from your stressful routine to chill out is incredibly important and will help your mind de-fog and restore your motivation so you get more done.

Meditate

I find that using apps like Headspace can help calm you if you’ve had a particularly stressful day. If you take out 10 minutes of your day to meditate it can help improve your mood and performance whilst also helping you stay a lot calmer. I have used this app quite often to help me take back a bit of control and keep myself nice and relaxed. Whether you use it as a one-off or even make a routine of it meditation will help you concentrate when you aren’t feeling your best.

Candles & Scents

It has been scientifically proven that scents can help to improve your mood, perhaps lighting a candle – or using a scent diffuser as a lot of student accommodation forbids the use of candles – will make you feel a lot calmer and will fill the room with your favourite smells making you feel happier whilst you do your work.

 

Go out

If things are starting to become more and more stressful and you’ve been stuck in a stuff room for hours on end take a break – go for a walk or meet up with some friends for an hour or two just to clear your head and then you will be much better. I find this a really effective strategy as when I return I have a renewed motivation and feel ready to tackle the workload.

Until next time! 🙂

Where can I find students in Ormskirk?

University students aren’t difficult to find, they’ll most likely congregate on campus, around the library or the SU bar. But, believe it or not, students do actually leave campus and can be found in various places around Ormskirk, so whip our your pokedex because we’re going to have a game of ‘Edge Hill go’ (yes, I know it’s not got much of a ring to it).

Aldi

It seems weirdly mundane but you can find a ridiculous amount of students in Aldi. It’s affordable selection of groceries means that students can spend less money on food and more on the things that really ma- actually no most of us spend our money on food! But nonetheless, if you want to catch a glimpse of the lesser spotted student, Aldi is a good place to start!

‘Spoons

Wherever you go, pretty much every student town has a Wetherspoons. So what’s so special about it? It’s cheap, friendly and they do the best cocktail pitchers! The Ormskirk branch of ‘spoons can be found at Wheatsheaf Walk (Turn right at the clock and you’re on your way). Also, in keeping with the legendary ‘Ormskirk gingerbread’ when you ascend the stairs you’ll notice an army of gingerbread men on the wall! It’s a great place to go for pre-drinks or for a quick, cheap lunch – Curry Club Thursdays are always the best. Not many people know why ‘Spoons has become such a popular place for students but I can guarantee you’ll go there at least once (fair do’s to you if you can avoid it for three years).

The Loft

As one of Ormskirk’s main nightclubs The Loft attracts a large number of students on a nightly basis. It is the newest club in Ormskirk, taking over the former building that housed Alpine. It hosts a number of events and themed nights that are posted in advance on their Facebook page. The Loft is especially popular during Edge Hill’s weekly social, every Wednesday Ormskirk is taken over by students in fancy dress, it’s hilarious to see all the different societies dressed up in their chosen ‘theme.’ The Loft is also a great and cheaper alternative to a night out in Liverpool, no need to pay extortionate amounts for taxis and you have a selection of different places to pre-drink – ‘Spoons (obviously), Junk, Styles etc – So it’s perfect for when you’re low on cash but need a good night out.

Cobble

An example of how photogenic the food is.

This is by far my favourite place in Ormskirk, my friends and I have become quite the regulars over the last few years. Cobble is a charming little café that specialises in smoothies, milkshakes, coffee and the most aesthetically pleasing food you can imagine (follow them on Instagram if you don’t believe me – @cobblecoffee). Located on Church Street, this adorable café was originally a cobbler’s – hence the name – and is now run by the grandson of the couple who owned the cobbler’s. Cobble is often very busy and is a popular meeting place for students, they even now have a ‘late night Thursday’ menu including ‘twisted smoothies’ which of course attracts even more students.

 

I hope this post gave you an idea of the kind of places that are available to and popular with students in the Ormskirk area. Until next time! 🙂

Combating Homesickness

Moving away from home can be really difficult, especially if you’re moving far away. Homesickness can really affect you at any point of uni, or it may not affect you at all. But you’re not alone in this, everyone has been thrown into the same boat so there’s no need to suffer in silence. Here are a few tips to make those moments a little bit better.

Spend time with friends

Spending time with your friends can really help distract you from missing home. Perhaps you could arrange a night in watching films or go out take your mind off it. This really helped me in my first week of uni as I found I was so busy that I didn’t have time to dwell on what I was missing at home. Another thing that can help is to speak to your friends about the problem, maybe they can relate or make you feel better, no one will be able to help unless you let them know.

Memories

I’ve found one of the best ways to make you feel at home when you’re away from home is

to cover your room in photos of all your friends and family. The longer you’re in uni the bigger the photo wall will grow as you make more memories with more people. Decorating your room can be really fun and you can involve some of your new friends in it too, it can work as a distraction and a reminder of all the great times you’ve had so far!

Communicate

Pretty much everyone has phones these days, you can phone up your family and friends for a good chat or even better, skype or facetime them. Being able to hear their voices or see them can really make you feel better and realise that they aren’t too far away. It could even be possible to arrange for them to come and visit you at some point – it will give you something to look forward to! I’ve had a lot of my friends from home visit me and it’s been great fun introducing them to my uni friends and showing them what life at Edge Hill is like.

 

Get stuck in

Another way to distract yourself is by getting involved in uni life. There are so many societies you can join (as you can probably tell I’m a bit advocate of societies) or you can get together with a group of friends and explore places – there are some really lovely places to see both on campus and around Ormskirk. This will keep you active and give you less time to dwell on what you’re missing and you’ll soon be building up new memories and uni will begin to feel more like home.

Visit Student Services

Student services are always there if you have any problems with homesickness, they also run workshops that help students combat homesickness and other stresses. They can be found here.

The application process is well underway now and a lot of applicants have made or started making their choices so I wish you all good luck for the coming year! 🙂

Making Friends at Uni – It’s Easier Than it Sounds

It may seem daunting moving to a new place and having to make a whole new group of friends. Especially if you are like me and have lived in the same town all your life and have known your friends for most of that time. People say that the friends you make at university are the friends you will keep for life – in my experience so far, those anonymous voices are right, I’ve met the craziest and best group of friends during my time at Edge Hill and I hope you will too. But one thing to remember about making friends at uni is that everyone is in the same situation and most are probably as worried/confused as you are.

Be yourself

I know it sounds cliché as hell but it’s true, how are you supposed to maintain friendships if you put on a persona that is anything other than 100% you? Try not to make friends by pretending you like/do the same things as them. Trying to impress people who don’t like the real you is not going to end well, either you’ll spend your time feeling uncomfortable or they will find out that you’re not exactly who they think you are. Don’t worry if you meet people you don’t have a lot in common with but like them as people, there’s nothing wrong with making an effort to become interested in what they are interested in, just don’t force yourself! The best thing is to find friends who you can be comfortable with and enjoy being around.

Get out there

One of the most effective ways to make friends at uni is to get yourself out there and get involved in social activities. Societies are the best way to do this, Edge Hill has a society for pretty much anything from rugby to Marvel to dance to video games. Whatever your interests are I’m sure you’ll be able to find a society of like-minded people. I highly recommend attending the freshers’ fair as each society has their own table where you can talk to them and sign up. Societies are also heavily involved in the uni’s weekly social, which is often a good laugh and a great way to relax mid-week.

If drinking isn’t your thing The student union also organises a number of activities throughout the year that aren’t centred around getting drunk, just because you’re sober doesn’t mean you have to be left out!

For more information about the societies that Edge Hill offers click the link below.

https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/undergraduate/student-experience/clubs-and-societies/

Get connecting

Once you find out which accommodation you will be living in, you should be able to find a Facebook group for your halls. There you can ask questions, find out who your flatmates will be and begin talking to people who you will be living with. You can also add people on your course and get to know them before you meet them. This means there will be less awkward “hi how are you?” moments when you meet in person.

Hope you’re all enjoying 2017! 🙂

What’s the Big Deal about Open Days?

Hey everyone!

Hope you’re all having a good week.

I am writing to you from behind a wall of books that I need to read so today’s post will probably be a short one, but I hope that it helps nonetheless!

If you’re applying to uni (or even if you’ve already sent off your application) then you’ve probably heard a lot of people talking about Open Days.

Your tutors have probably recommended that you attend as many as possible, you might have friends who have told you about an Open Day they went too, you may even be waiting to attend one yourself.

Either way a question a lot of people have is ‘what’s the point in an Open Day?’

It’s a valid question, and one that I had when I was applying to university. So today I’m going to give you a few tips on what I have learnt over the past couple of years, and hopefully impart some wisdom to you about what you can get from an Open Day.

Why should I go to an Open Day?
Applying to uni can be a lot of pressure. You’ve probably hunted through a stack of prospectuses trying to find the right uni for you. Even if you’ve narrowed it down to a few choices I would highly suggest visiting each uni! A prospectus gives a good overview of a university and its courses but nothing is better than visiting the uni and talking to students and tutors of your course. If you have any questions this is the quickest way to find the answer, and sometimes just getting the feel of the uni will help you decide if it’s the place for you or not.

What if I can’t go to an Open Day?
Sometimes it just isn’t possible to get to an Open Day, whether that’s because of college, work or distance. If you can’t get to an Open Day I would suggest getting in touch with the university to talk about the course you want to study, you can find information about how to contact Edge Hill here. They will answer any course specific enquiries or general enquiries about student life and the facilities at Edge Hill. Check out Edge Hill University’s Facebook as well as they upload photos and videos of the campus – the next best thing if you are unable to visit yourself.

I hope you all go to a few Open Days this year, even if you have already sent off your UCAS application. As soon as I attended the Edge Hill Open Day I knew this was the place where I wanted to study for the next three years, and I am loving every second!

Quote for the day: “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Roy Disney

Have another amazing week!

Until next time.

-Becki 🙂

Fancy a Cuppa?

Hey everyone!

Hope you’re all having a good week. It’s halfway through the semester which means it’s reading week, so I’m hiding away in my bedroom with a stack full of books and starting an assignment or two.

It’s not all work and no play at uni though, although it’s important to find the right balance!

Occasionally if I need a change of scenery I’ll wander over to uni and grab a Caramel Macchiato to help me relax. It makes finishing my reading list a little more sweet! Or it makes for a nice reward when I’ve submitted an essay I’ve been working on for a while.

The point is don’t drive yourself too hard! You’re going to put off work as much as possible if you don’t give yourself a reason to enjoy it (at least a little.)

Whether that means a group study session, an indulgent cup of coffee or a trip to the cinema just make sure you have a little something that keeps you on the right track and will give you that extra incentive to keep working.

Reading week is so important to me, it gives me the chance to prioritise any reading I need to do for the second half of the semester, do some research or work on upcoming assignments.

Trust me, it’s better to do as much work as possible during the semester and reading week than to leave it all to the last minute and be working over the Christmas break!

With that said, I better go and finish some work now.

Enjoy the rest of your week guys!

Quote for the day: “I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it” -Thomas Jefferson

Until next time!

-Becki 🙂

 

 

Food and Drink in Ormskirk

Hey everyone!

Hope you are all enjoying the summer, the nice weather has finally made a reappearance which is always good news.

This week I’m going to talk about the places in Ormskirk where you can go to satisfy those sugar cravings or have a nice study-break cup of coffee.

Being able to go out for food and drink once in a while is always a good change, and there are plenty of places to choose from.

If coffee is your go-to drink then there’s good news. Ormskirk town centre has both a Starbucks and a Costa, so you’re guaranteed to be able to get your caffeine hit. Plus the Hub on campus has a coffee bar that serves Starbucks coffee, so you can always grab a cup before a lecture to help you power through the day.

There’s also a Mcdonalds within 15 minutes walk of the campus, so if you have a fast food craving you don’t have to go too far out of your way. Ormskirk also boasts a lot of local takeaways and even has a Domino’s if all you need is an amazingly tasty pizza.

Staffords Fish and Chips is a place I would highly recommend to anyone in Ormskirk, the staff are really friendly and you can choose to eat in or takeaway. It’s a really great fish and chip shop and the restaurant part is so cute (although a bit cosy!)

One of the great things about small towns is the number of quaint cafes you can find, Ormskirk is no exception. I would give some recommendations here, but I think it’s much better to go out and try the cafes yourself, I guarantee you will find one that you absolutely love and visit again and again throughout the year.

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Having said that, Cobble is the number one place to visit in town, and I suggest you go there as soon as possible because you’ll want to return here over, and over, again. Cobble make the best milkshakes in Ormskirk, and probably have every flavour combination you can imagine (and even some you’ve never thought of.) Its food menu is pretty good too and its a great place to go when you want to impress visiting friends or family, for a celebration or if you just feel like indulging.

These are just a few of the places you can check out, but there is so much more Ormskirk has to offer.

The best thing to do is to explore the town centre and see what you can find. Ormskirk has a lot of hidden gems and there’s definitely something for everyone.

Now go whet your appetite!

Quote for the day: “Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.” Ruth Reichl

Until next time! 🙂

The Benefits of Volunteering

Hey everyone!

Hope you are all having another good week, and enjoying the break from college. As much as I’ve been missing uni lately it’s been nice to have a little time away to recharge and get ready for second year.

A couple of posts ago I mentioned some good ways of staying productive over the summer. One of those ways was volunteering. This week I’m going to focus on that a little bit more.

For the past few weeks I’ve been volunteering at the PDSA shop near where I live, which hasn’t only kept me from going insane with boredom but has helped me make new friends, make a positive difference and gain some new experience.

Thankfully my CV isn’t entirely blank, but having a few extra skills to put on there never does any harm.

According to some surveys 73% of employers would hire someone who has volunteering experience over an individual without.

That’s because volunteering shows you have motivation and determination to work for a cause that means a lot to you, and it’s surprising how many skills you can pick up along the way.

Volunteering with a local charity shop can give you retail experience, shows you are able to work in a team, gives you good cash handling skills and allows you to interact with a diverse range of customers. Who wouldn’t want to be able to gain all that experience for a few hours volunteering each week?
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And if volunteering in retail isn’t something that appeals to you there are a number of other ways you can get involved and help your community.

From spending a few hours each month with an elderly person and helping them with daily activities to volunteering to help out at festivals or races taking place near you, the opportunities are almost endless.

My favourite thing about volunteering though is the fact that you can fit it into your schedule, no matter what that schedule is.

Even during term time at uni you will probably have a few hours to spare, and volunteering during those few hours gives you the chance to do something you enjoy, gain valuable skills and stop mindlessly watching Netflix.

I’d really recommend volunteering to everyone, so if it’s not something you’ve looked into before then I suggest you give it a go!

I intend to carry on my volunteering when I return to uni, and who knows, maybe I’ll see some of you then!

Quote for the day: “We help because that is who we truly are.” -Joseph Rain

Have another amazing week!

Until next time 🙂