It may come as a shock to some, but going to university isn’t just about listening to boring lectures and reading stuffy old books in libraries.
It may also come as a shock to others, probably quite a few; it isn’t just one big marathon party either. For me going off to university was the first time I had ever lived away from home, and this was actually was one of the hardest parts of going into higher education.
Going to university was a brilliant experience partly because it gave me a small taste of ‘real life’ and some of the challenges that come with it. For the most part these real life challenges were financial. Coming from a fairly low income family I was of course worried about how I was going to afford it all. Luckily I found that there was loads of support available to me from both the Government and my university; which really helped out.
However this didn’t change the fact that suddenly I was expected to be paying for rent, food, amenity bills, course materials and of course funding my nights out with friends. During this time managing what I had coming in and what I had going out, and most importantly how many pints I could buy with what is left, became a big issue in my life. I quickly learnt various ways to cut my expenses and budget better; from searching for the cheapest water supplier, learning to make cheap meals that don’t cost very much and that lasted a long time, to memorising which bars had the best offers on during the week.
University taught me a lot of things but my residing memory will always be how important it is to manage my money well.
There were times when my over indulgences would force me to live off beans on toast for so long that it may have put me off them for life. But hey, making mistakes and learning from them is part of growing up and living by myself at university, for me, was a big part of that.