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Off to Uni?

Whether it's your first time away from home or you're an experienced student, we have some top tips to keep yourself, your home and your stuff safe.

Living away from home can be quite a culture shock. Some of the things - like greater independence, and no one worrying what time you're going to be in - can be great, but you may also find yourself having to budget when your parents have always looked after you, doing the cooking and cleaning for the first time and generally looking after yourself.

Here are some top tips to help you settle into living away from home for the first time:

Acknowledge your own feelings
Missing family and friends and feeling homesick is normal and should be acknowledged as such. However, it's important that you also set out to enjoy yourself and embrace the opportunity to experience new things.

Manage your budget
If you're not used to managing your own budget - having to do so is one of the most challenging aspects of university life. Unless you're lucky to be generously funded by your relatives then money is likely to be tight - so make sure from the very beginning that you set yourself a budget and stick to it.

Make your course a priority
Universities are not just great places of learning, they also provide lots of opportunities for other activities. Join in, have fun, but make sure that they don't take priority over your studies. There may be a few people who manage to roll up to their final exams having done very little work but they are very few and far between.

Keep healthy
Make sure that on your budget you can eat and drink sensibly. If you're not sure what's cheap and how to do simple cooking check out your university website or talk to student services. Most of them have information or can point you in the right direction to get information.


Sign on to NHS practice
Make sure that you sign on to a GP (General Practitioner). There's nothing worse than trying to get to a doctor when you're ill when you don't actually have one. Most people want to hang on to their own dentist but just remember this could be an issue if you're studying a long way from home.

Be flexible
Finding yourself having to share accommodation with people you don't know can be challenging. Even if you get on with your room/flat or house mates, there are always likely to be some differences in the way you live. Living with strangers requires flexibility, tolerance and understanding.

Explore your surroundings
Make sure that you get to know your university campus and the surrounding city. Get bus, train, taxi timetables and maps as appropriate along with any tourist information about places to visit. It's much easier to settle in a place when it becomes more familiar to you.

This may sound obvious and for lots of students it's only natural to do so. However, if you're someone who suffers from shyness and finds it difficult to socialise with new people, make sure that you don't isolate yourself. Even if you don't want to - make sure that you find activities that you can enjoy with other people.

Don't bury problems
If you're struggling with your course or your really unhappy - don't ignore these problems. All universities will have people you can talk to including counsellors. Just don't suffer in silence.

Stay in touch
Make sure you're aware of your mobile phone tariffs so you don't run up huge bills. Remember email and Skype are free. But however you choose to communicate remember your loved ones will be dying to hear from you. Don't ignore them.

So, Living away from home for the first time can be challenging but also great fun. Make it as easy as you can on yourself by managing your money, staying healthy, enjoying yourself and making your studies a priority

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