Guest Blog: “YOUniversity Living” by Rachael Procter
Introducing moon child guest blogger: Rachael Procter!
I am a 20-year-old student of English, creative writing and journalism at the University of Strathclyde. With a passion for the written word, I currently contribute to four student magazines and occupy the role of Features editor the Strathclyde Telegraph. My love of stationery has inspired me to start a stationery blog where I find comfort in writing about really, really sad things – like nice pens, Filofaxes and uniformly highlighted pieces of paper.
“YOUniversity Living” by Rachael Procter
There are many ways in which I feel I am different – and not in the obnoxious sense, before I begin.
Back in high school when I turned 18 – the first to legally enter the realm of intoxication among a group of beer-thirsty 17-year-olds – I wanted for nothing more than the consistent peer pressure to stop. As a public transport enthusiast, lacking all intentions to begin driving lessons in the foreseeable future, I did not possess a provisional licence before my 17th birthday like the majority of my friends. And so, when greeted by scrunched noses and abuse upon rejecting any queries involving the borrowing of my passport for I.D. (yes, my ticket out of here), I laughed them off and focused my attention on what really mattered to me: getting into university.
I’m aware of the multiple forms of motivation surrounding university living: the flat which, with the help of your best friends, will provide the location for every bored Saturday night to come; the attractive singles, clearly distinguished, looking for someone special; the drinks promotions in every club within the university vicinity; the student discounts… However, there is one more factor of university which will not go unnoticed, for entry into a prestigious learning ground – where no one even knows your name – entitles you be one thing that can’t be documented on Facebook for the world to see: a complete and utter stationery guru!
Matching pens, matching folders, Filofaxes, the laptop of your learning, the notebooks to scrawl a hundred references… The creative possibilities of even the most factual of course notes are endless and inspiring. You’ll find yourself dwelling over shelves in warm second-hand bookstores with a hot drink in your hand, tips peeping out of your fingerless gloves red raw from carrying heavy bags of shopping.
These tiny, priceless moments are what excite me the most about university, and I want you to appreciate what you’ll really miss after you graduate. Therefore, I have devised a list of everything you could possibly need to help you make the most of it while you can:
A Filofax to prevent time wasting
I swear by my Filofax to keep me in check. I review a lot of shows and also have editorial meetings with magazines on top of social events and university coursework. There’s a modern saying being thrown about today that we have the same hours in our day as Beyonce, and while you might not worship Beyonce (you’e speaking to a Taylor Swift lady here) whoever coined this phrase has a point.
Take this advice: write down everything you need to do the next day, get up early and do it a little at a time, every single day. You won’t need to worry about writing your essays when you know you’ve scheduled in an hour’s work in a few days’ time. After all, no one likes a surprise assignment. Actually, it might puzzle you to learn that there’s generally nothing “surprising” about them.
Most universities provide deadlines at the beginning of term, so write them down in your diary beside every social gathering, birthday party, family occasion, potential ‘date night’, pamper and study session you’re going to give yourself to make sure that you: 1. don’t double book 2. get a balance. You have more time than you think.
A flask to save you buying liquids
In winter, I take soup on the train to university. I simply heat it up in the morning, put it in my flask and carry it in the faith that it will stay warm until lunchtime. This saves me buying expensive and unfulfilling sandwiches at the university canteens. Also, take your own coffee and take it to lectures with you, if that appeals.
You’ll save time and pennies if you’re not having to stop at a brewery every day on the way to class. Did you know that if you bring your own cup and tea bag/sachet of hot drink almost every café, coffee shop and canteen will fill it with hot water for around 20p? I didn’t. Doesn’t that sound much better than £1.95 for a flavour you don’t even drink at home?
A rucksack to take the weight off your shoulders
Rucksacks are practical, usually waterproof and much more comfortable to wear than messenger bags. Across-the-body bags put strain on your shoulders if their heavy whereas wearing a rucksack diverts much of the weight onto your back, where your muscles are strongest.
Another reason to invest in a good bag is that backpacks come in a variety of styles, sizes and patterns and have many more useful features, for example: a water bottle pouch, an earphone socket, a build in laptop sleeve and various zipped pouches to separate books, folders, stationery and cables.
Tote bags because we pay for shitty, plastic alternatives now
One thing you might not consider about university is how much shopping you will find yourself doing – especially if your survival is riding on your weekly food shop. Buy cheap, cotton tote bags to avoid plastic failure whilst taking your groceries on public transport. Supermarket ‘bags for life’ only hold so much so more durable options are becoming a fact of life. They come in the sweetest designs, too, and roll up nicely in your bag.
A trusty pair of kicks to keep your toes smiling
As a student, likely on a budget, you’ll find that the power of your legs has never been more valued. Many university campuses are situated out with amenities and clubs, bars and restaurants. Or, like is the case with my uni (the University of Strathclyde), universities well within the city centre are often situated atop steep slopes and far outside of the main shopping routes. Buy yourself a decent pair of shoes to avoid blisters and actually enjoy your days studying. The prospect of stewing in a library all day is motivationally poisoning enough without having the physical pain of blisters.
A cash book to track spending
This speaks for itself: keep on top of your finances. Make sure you know what’s coming in and what’s going out, and then use what you have left for disposable income.
A corkboard to reminisce
Buy a pinboard and decorate it with items from your studies as if to make yourself a scrapbook to look back on in years to come. Include things like: Polaroid pictures, gig tickets, club wristbands, leaflets from your favourite restaurants, badges, inspirational quotes and good feedback from tutors. It may all smell like regrets and beer but these years are the best in your whole life. Take everything with both hands and be thankful you had them.
A few words from the primary blogger – I chose to feature Rachael’s work because both her fiction and journalistic articles make for superb reading but I particularly love Rachael’s kitchy, stationary pieces. I think this post is the perfect little lifestyle and stationary guide for students starting college/university in the coming days and weeks. If we were all as organised as Rachael, studying would be so much easier.
Featured image couresty of Thomas Huang via Flickr.
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