The Darker Side to Student Life

People like to think of university as all fun and games, but when it comes down to reality, it’s not. Yes, we might get money given to us for three (or four) years, but it’s usually hardly enough to cover our rent. Yes, we might be able to sleep in until noon sometimes, but that’s because we were working on essays until 1AM the night before. 

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Students end up facing several new things when moving to univeristy – you become completely indepedent when just a few months ago you had zero to worry about.

Problem number 1Money

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In my first year of university I received a scholarship off the university for my A-Level grades that went straight into my pocket which massively helped me. Second year, I don’t receive a scholarship and I feel like I may need to sell a limb to get by this year.

An earlier study showed that financial stress was the most significant factor in triggering depression at university. The current financial stresses on students are significantly greater than they were at the time of the study! – studentsagainstdepression.org

Student loans are CRAP. Students who’s parents do not earn a lot get higher loans than student who’s parents earn more – the government do not take into account that just because a student’s parents aren’t badly off, does not mean they will fund their way through university. Students who get a bigger loan, are likely to have a bigger overdraft to dip into too. If you don’t end up in debt with your bank, you’ll end up in debt with your parents!

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Where students look to find extra money –  Source: savethestudent.org

Savethestudent.org conducted a survey that found that 78% of students that took part think student finance is unfair and that 80% worry about financially making ends meet, which effects their diet and grades. Students who struggle to get a job during university will turn to some extreme measures to earn some quick cash. One student on savethestudent.org said “I ate an entire flower for £20” … maybe stick to the normal jobs available guys.

Need help on budgeting? Click here for some advice!

Problem number 2 – Moving away from home

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Whether you’re an hour away, or a country away, the move is hard. One minute you have your mum cooking up a delicious roast dinner, next think you know you’re at uni and realizing you haven’t changed  your bed sheets in 5 weeks (oops).

People struggle with different aspects of the move; whether it’s taking responsibility for yourself and having to do adult things like food shopping and washing  up, or if it’s because all your close mates are dotted around different parts of the country.

It is well known that any such transition or change, however positive, entails a certain amount of stress. Indeed, for some students – especially international students – these changes can add up to what is known as ‘culture shock’. – studentsagainstdepression.org

Problem number 3 – Balancing everything

 

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If Ethan Hunt thinks he’s done mission impossible, then he obviously didn’t go to university. Trying to balance several different aspects of university is extremely difficult.

From trying to have a social life, but not getting behind on uni work to attending lectures but finding time to go food shopping or hit the gym, to wanting to go explore exciting things of the new city you’re living in to not spending outside of your means. It’s EXHASUSTING!

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 Problem 4 – Stress

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Stress is a very common things in university students; the University of Reading says there has been a 20% year-on-year increase in students wanting help from counsellors. Also, a nationally representative study of 1000 students found that 75% of them had suffered with some form of emotional distress whilst at university.

It’s easy to get stressed at university, whether it’s due to money or your work load, but it’s important to take care of yourself as too much stress can make you unwell and could effect your grades and lifestyle.

Particular stress points occur at the beginnings and ends of academic years, especially at the start and towards the end of the academic year. These times of increased stress can represent a tipping point when coping resources can become overwhelmed – a recent study found that student suicides more commonly occur at these times.  – studentsagainstdepression.org

Wanting to understand more about stress? Click here where you can take a test  to see how stressed you are, read about symptoms of  stress and advice on how to beat  it.

 

OK, so university isn’t all doom and gloom, but it’s important to understand the negative aspects of it too. As stressful as it can be, you’ll make new friends, you’ll create new memories and a large percentage of people I know who went to university describes it as “the best years of their lives”.

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Try make life easier for yourself by not doing an essay last minute, socialising a little more if you’re lonely, seeking consounselling if you’re stressed and/or depressed and finding money saving techniques to be able to afford experiencing the city you’re living in.

Enjoy the good times, and seek help if the bad times get too much! 

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How to Not Put on Three Stone in Your Three Years of University

It’s safe to say when you start uni, the prospect of cooking is pretty damn scary. I’ve been used to my Mum’s fabulous cooking for the past 19 years which was all healthy & not having to bat an eyelid of putting dinner on the table. Then I come to Uni and I’ve come to learn if I want to live off chicken dippers and chips that I may just start looking like one. However, I’m sure everyone is with me when I say it’s bloody easier said than done- I like a chocolate bar (or 3) as much as the next guy!

I’ve also learnt how badly I need to improve my fitness – after playing a measly 1/4 of a netball game yesterday, I was sure I was having a cardiac arrest. So, from the perspective of a non-6 pack baring, avocado and granola eating, skinny minny, I thought I’d give some basic ideas on how to keep your weight gain at bay to my fellow students (and myself!).

Join a gym or sport society

Duh. I understand not everyone wants to sweat their tits off on a treadmill for hours, or go into the weight training section to drown in testosterone, but you can do what you want and when you want, and as much or as little as you want. The flexibility has always been appealing to me personally! Bored? Chuck in half an hour at the gym, you’ll thank yourself later! If money’s an issue, join a society; they’re often free or cheaper than a gym membership and It’s a great way to meet people. Of course, there’s the traditional, simple run around the park or cycle too. If you can’t even be arsed leaving the flat (which is very student-like of you), have a crack at a home workout. There are loads on YouTube; here’s an example of one you could try.

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Get some kick-ass gym attire and a good playlist to encourage you to workout

When I know I have a great gym outfit that I feel good in, I want to wear it, and to justify wearing it, I know I need to actually go work out or I would look a bit of a nob walking round in it. Missguided have a great range for girls that are trendy, and won’t leave you out of pocket. In addition to that, sort yourself a high energy playlist! If I listened to the likes of Sam Smith or Adele in the gym, I’d probably want to go home, crawl up in ball and cry instead. Get music you find motivates you. A few on my playlist are people like Disclosure, Kanye West, Hannah Wants etc. If you can’t be arsed scrolling through the 100’s of songs in your library, Spotify have some great workout playlists you can find through the ‘browse’ section.

Freeze extra food & learn portions 

It’s extremely convenient to buy unhealthy meals for one, but as is over cooking and saving some for later! Freezers were such a beautiful invention, so use them! E.g Spag Bol; (click here for a recipe) – mince beef is rarely sold in portions small enough for one, so buy 250g (a good amount for 2 portions), cook it all at once, and freeze the rest for a later date. Also, learn portions! I’m forever making enough rice or pasta or serve a family of 4, and attempting to eat it all to prevent wasting money… which is a challenge that can be easily avoided. 1/2 measuring cup/90g of rice, or around 75g of dried pasta usually does the trick for 1. Try remove any unnecessary calories from your diet too, for example alcohol;

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Hopefully these ideas will help you out, and without being the pot that calls the kettle black, I’ll sure as hell be trying these out to prevent myself looking like a beached whale by the end of my  degree.

Sources – bbcgoodfood.com, justeasyrecipies.co.za, missguided.co.uk & Fitness Blender videos via YouTube. 

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