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Freshers Survival Guide:

Living away from home

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Many students will be living away from home for the first time. You need to work out how to study and socialise effectively, while keeping on top of the nitty gritty of everyday living. Otherwise your university career could be dominated by personal logistics – travelling, eating, sleeping and keeping clean (not to mention dealing with dentists, plumbers and bank managers). While it may be cool to be scruffily dressed, you will keep more friends if you know how to work the washing machine. So, if you are one of the many who are not yet 100% confident of every aspect of living away from home, here are some things you could think about.

Cash: Make sure you have some money to take with you at the start of term and a bank or building society account (with some money in) so you can access more. Be sure you really know how to use a cash point, can deposit money and understand a bank statement.

Budgeting: You will find this easier if you have done it before – eg if you have managed a personal clothes allowance, or travelled on a fixed budget. If you’re new to all this, try using the Course budget form.

Transport: Get yourself maps of both the campus and the town, so you can find your way around. Find out about student deals and off-peak travel on local buses, trains etc. Don’t be frightened about taking taxis: they are not always expensive, particularly if several students share one. Only hail licensed taxis (not minicabs) in the street; it is worth keeping one of the national taxi company numbers on your phone. When you ring for a minicab, ask them to tell you the (approximate) fare and confirm this with the driver. Before you get into a minicab, ask the driver which company he is from, so you are sure it was the one you called.

Staying in touch: Shop around for a mobile phone deal that will allow you to phone home without running up huge bills. If you are sharing a flat, you may need a landline for the internet but you can bar it from outgoing calls. It will be easy to find places in the university where you can send emails. Does anyone write letters any more?

Dentists & doctors: Sign onto an NHS practice − do this before you get ill. The college/uni will have its own health centre or will advise on good practices. For immediate health problems contact NHS Direct, which is open 24/7 (See Health).

Shopping & cooking: Shopping to a budget is a skill you will have to develop. Find your nearest market and cheap supermarket. Make a list before you go, buy own brands, look for the loss leaders and special offers. Food prices are often reduced just before closing time (bread can be as low as 10p on Sunday afternoons). Get hold of a student cookbook which has cheap recipes and money-saving ideas.

Laundry: Get to grips with the laundry arrangements early. Use your own soap powder (it is expensive in laundrettes) and try using half the recommended amount. You will find a drying rack is cheaper than using a tumble drier. An iron is rarely provided in your accommodation; if your wardrobe needs one, get a travelling iron.

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