Love where you live
As it’s Valentine’s Day (and I have no date :( ), I’m thinking about things to love this week, non-human things… there’s a lot of conversation about loving what you do but it’s not only your work or course that impacts your mental equilibrium. Finding somewhere you love living is essential to your mental health and happiness. When you come back from a long day of lectures, a hard day or a long holiday, there should be part of you that’s looking forward to coming home.
What makes a great place to live?
When you first move, it may take a while to settle in - it can feel lonely, even when you’re surrounded by people, so don’t worry if you don’t feel great at first. If you have just started university, there will probably be plenty of others feeling just the same. Here are some tips to help you settle in and start meeting people. I guarantee you’ll start to feel better once you take the plunge…
o Walk to uni together - Ask your flatmates where they’re heading. Even if you have to go in a bit earlier, it’s a good chance to have a chat and get to know each other.
o Host a supper club or takeaway night – On a tight budget, entertaining can be a big ask, but there are plenty of cheaper ways to get people together. Try ‘bring a dish’ – everyone brings something to the supper club (just make sure you’re organised, so you don’t end up with five desserts… now that’s not such a bad idea!
o Cook together – An economical and sociable option is to do the supermarket shop together, split the cost and share the cooking, even just once a fortnight. We have some quick, cheap and tasty recipes to try - my favourite is the make your own pizzas – surprisingly easy and good fun. Or if you’re feeling healthy, try this Winter Warmer Ribolitta Soup – perfect for a freezing February evening.
o Keep up your sports or interests – By joining clubs, the gym or local activities, you will be surrounded by like-minded people. Or start something new - write for the uni magazine, sign up to societies, join the running club, take up life drawing, volunteer… It’s also a good way of settling into a routine and making the place feel more permanent.
o Local social – If you find socialising difficult, just take yourself off to a communal place like the the lounge, kitchen or student union. Take a book, your laptop or something to do. Shutting yourself away in your room will only make you feel worse, so go where the chatter is and you’ll start to feel better and more relaxed.
Location, location, location
Explore your local area and get to know the important places – it can really help you settle in and feel at home. Speak to your iQ team, they’ll know the best areas to visit.
o Take an invigorating walk – OK, in a big city, the air might not be quite so refreshing… but by taking a stroll, I discovered that I’m right near a lovely park on the River Thames, despite being in busy, polluted London. I now walk there nearly every morning before work; it’s the greatest energising feeling and gets me ready for the day ahead. There are loads of sites with good deals and things to do in your area - check some out here.
o Find the essentials and the nice-to-haves – Check out your nearest supermarket, shop, bar, post office, cashpoint, chemist etc. List the important things back home, and see if you can find an equivalent in the new place e.g. a world food shop selling your favourite goodies, cycle routes or a local farm shop.
o Do a pub crawl! -- A fun way to see the city even if you don’t drink. It’s a good chance to mix with other students and you will remember the route – so you can take those who did drink on a trip down memory lane another day!
Comfy and confident
Home should be the place you feel safe, comfortable and relaxed (iQ prides itself on this, so you’re in good hands).
o Note the necessities – When you move in, just make sure you’re aware of facilities like fire exits, smoke alarms, trip switches etc. Hopefully, you will never have to use them, but a small effort early on will give you peace of mind.
o Find your routes – Ask about local transport and the best, safest ways of getting around at night (a lot of unis are served by all-night buses). If you’re fretting about finding your way to your first lectures, do a dummy run while you have plenty of time, that will take away the stress.
o Make it yours – Feel at home by surrounding yourself with familiar comforts - photos, candles, cushions, whatever cheers you up! Just check the rules about putting things up on walls!
o Right lights – A novel idea for getting you up in in time for those 9am lectures L… I recently bought a light/alarm clock from Amazon, which wakes you up slowly, with the light starting dim and mimicking a sunrise - it’s actually rather nice. Invest in a decent bedside light for relaxing, and a good desk lamp, so you’re not straining your eyes when you’re doing intense revision.
o Chill! – Watch films, read books and listen to your music – there’s nothing better than a good playlist to chill out to. They often spark good conversation, so it’s another way of finding like-minded people.
Whatever you’re up to on Valentine’s Day, enjoy! Spend time with those you love, or people who make you smile. I’ll be enjoying a delicious meal from M&S (2 for £20) with my flatmate and the dog we’re looking after!
We hope these tips will help you make the most of your time at iQ and have an enjoyable year. When you leave uni, the renting process will probably be quite different, so be sure to check out our House section when you’re looking for a place after graduation.