What Independence Has Taught Me?
Living by myself on a campus has taught me so many life skills. Here are a few:
Budgeting is key– A maintenance loan can only go so far, so budgeting is key to being independent with money. Other than rent, you have other expenses like food and utilities- and whilst they don’t seem like much- they add up. On the other hand, you also have other expenses such as takeaway and other social activities that aren’t necessities. One thing that independence has taught me is being able to prioritise my needs, rather than my wants. Not going out for a Pret coffee every morning and instead buying instant coffee can make big changes to your account, the same idea as choosing to pre before going out so you don’t pay for as many drinks outside.
Finding a job is superficial– Working during university is a decision that you will have to weigh up once you understand your workload and timetable. However, at the moment there are part time jobs in the Cannon Park Tesco, or working in retail in Leamington and Coventry, so this might work for you. If not, unitemps is amazing for looking for jobs. Even blogging like I do can earn you some money each week- which could go towards shopping. Furthermore, in the Summer, unitemps offer internships for work and they could be related to your degree!
It’s okay to stay in for an evening– At the beginning of term, there are so many events going on and so it can be overwhelming. I think at first I really enjoyed spending lots of time getting to know people, but doing so, I forgot what it was like to be alone and didn’t have any time to myself. Because of this, in second and third term I decided to focus on how I felt more than socialising just because I could. If I wasn’t going out with flatmates, I would watch films, catch up on the latest series or read a book. And when I felt like going out I would, sometimes I’d even just watch a film with a flatmate as an evening activity.
Prioritise your mental health– Living by yourself is a huge and massive step to take and along with big life changes comes changes to your mental health. Whether this be feeling lonely or struggling with anxiety, the way you prioritise your mental health can affect your physical health entirely. At the beginning I decided to ignore how I was feeling until I began to realise that my mental state was reflected in my physical appearance and my academic abilities. So I decided to take a step back to reflect and from then began to take note of how I was feeling and do things to improve my health.
Ask for help if you need to-Whether this be your mental health or your academic situation, asking for help is key to being independent. Since university is independent work, sometimes falling behind or misunderstanding a task can happen but remember that you have your personal tutors to guide you. The mental health team at Warwick is also there to support you. Learning when to ask for help is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt this year.
You choose when you work, and that can affect your grades– Going to university is completely different to going to school. At school you would be pestered if you hadn’t done homework or revised for an exam, at university, marks are deducted. So learning to be independent went hand in hand with being organised. Instead of working in the hours of the night and rushing through essays, the best method to doing well at being independent is planning your days. Either buying a basic planner or using apps such as notion taught me how to stay organised without a teacher and in the environment of university.
Cooking books are useless, you make it up as you go– I bought a cooking book to use at university and never used it once. Whilst cooking books look like a smart idea they often turn out to be quite time-consuming and expensive. Even the university cookbooks are modelled to fit someone feeding four or more people- and whilst you can divide the recipe, the ingredients tend to not be long lasting. Instead sticking to quite a basic and healthy diet was the best method for me in the long run. Each week I would buy bulk in vegetables and through out the week would use those ingredients with staples such as pasta and rice to make dishes. I would also buy food that was reduced and use clubcard deals to lower the price of my meals. You can sometimes be fancy and use a recipe, but to save money using websites such as BBC Good Food is as good as a cookbook.