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All set for student life

Starting university is exciting, but it can also make you feel nervous. You’ll be meeting new people, studying at a higher level and possibly living away from home for the first time. This can all be nerve-wracking, but there are things you can do to make your transition to university life a smooth one.

Do the life admin bits early

This can be boring, but getting it done early will help you avoid last-minute stress. Apply for student finance and provide the correct supporting information and bank details. Choose your accommodation early to give yourself the best chance of being placed where you want. If there are any additional bursaries, scholarships or allowances that you are eligible for, make sure you apply for these in plenty of time too.

Get online

Wondering whether you will be able to make friends is a common concern for university starters. But thanks to social media you can now begin meeting people before you’ve even started your course. Your institution may have set up Facebook groups for your course or halls of residence, and you can even search Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites for people who have posted about the same course and university as you. Also, you may be able to start interacting with student societies you are interested in through their online groups.

Get in the kitchen

You don’t need to be a culinary expert, but learning to make a few simple meals will go a long way. If you haven’t done much cooking before then ask someone to teach you how to master a couple of dishes. Living on beans on toast and supernoodles will soon get boring, and eating takeaways will quickly empty your bank account!

Give yourself a head start on your studies

Many universities publish reading lists in advance, so you can start reading around the topics you will be studying, particularly if your subject requires lots of reading like English or History. There’s no need to buy every book on the reading list new. Instead, check out websites and shops where you can buy second-hand books. Your university may also have an exchange where second and third-year students can sell their old books to new starters.

Make a budget

It’s a good idea to work out how much cash you will have left after your rent, travel and food costs so you know how much you have to spend on everything else. Your student loan is paid to you in three instalments, so make sure you leave yourself enough to cover the periods in between payments. Find out more about making your money go further as a student.

Start packing

If you are moving out of home, use this time to make a list of practical things you will need at university. This includes stuff like bedding, towels and kitchen utensils. Also, think about study materials you might need such as a laptop, folders or notebooks.

Finally, try not to worry.

Going to university is a fantastic experience, and doing a small amount of preparation before you start will make the experience less stressful. Remember that if you do have any questions or concerns, your university should be happy to help.


Coming to Goldsmiths in September? Discover what life in London is like and find out about the kinds of support available to you when you start.

5 ways to make your money go further as a student in London

Getting a degree is expensive, but you can make the most of your uni days without being overwhelmed by debt if you know how to make every penny count. Students are notorious for their money management skills, with stories of loans and overdrafts being fully spent within the first few weeks of term. Whether you’re in your first or final year, the temptation to spend is everywhere – especially in big cities like London.

Alex Wilson gives us five money saving tips for city-living students to avoid the worst financial rip-offs and pitfalls.


1. Eating healthy for less

For most students, university is the first time they’ll be food shopping and cooking for themselves. It can be daunting balancing academics and a social life while trying to eat healthy and avoid gaining the “fresher fifteen”.

Planning your meals ahead of time can keep you on track financially and physically, and can help you resist getting into the expensive habit of grabbing a bite to eat after lectures. Doing your shopping at local markets and reducing meat in your diet can also be great for your wallet and the environment.

If you do decide to become your own personal chef, it’s best to shop around before settling on any one brand or product. The cheaper, ‘value’ or ‘basic’ items offered by most supermarkets are often just as tasty as their brand name competitors. While the packaging on these value items may not be as flashy, that 50p ketchup may be just as good as or better than one that’s five times the price.

Fruit and veg market stall

Markets can be a great way to cut down the costs of your food shop

2. Rent smartly

City living isn’t easy on your bank account, particularly because of extortionate rent and housing prices. Many students will move out of halls and rent privately in flat or house shares after their first year.

It’s always better to rent directly from a landlord to avoid unnecessary and costly fees from estate agents. You can rent some properties with bills already included in the price and luckily, students are exempt from paying council tax until graduation as long as you provide a valid university enrolment letter.

Location is key, and living just outside the city can save you hundreds each year but comes with higher travel costs. Be sure to calculate the cost of your commute ahead of time to see if it’s worth it.

3. Earn some extra cash

Your best chance of not living in your overdraft during university is having some extra income. While student loans can be a massive help, they often don’t cover the total cost of the student experience.

There will be thousands of part-time jobs available no matter what city you study in. Check with your university’s careers centre for job listings on and off campus, and advice on CV writing and interviews when you decide to apply.

Almost every university will have a student ambassador programme that offers flexible on-campus work, usually with a generous salary. It’s a great way to get involved, earn money, and gain transferable skills to impress potential employers down the line.

While having that extra cash is good for your wallet and your stress levels, it’s recommended you only work 15-20 hours a week to keep up with your studies.

Open green space in Brockley

There are plenty of green spaces in London which are completely free to enjoy

4. Student discounts

Milk your student title for all it’s worth by registering for Unidays and NUS to get discounts from major retailers and companies like ASOS, Topshop, Apple, and Spotify. Depending on your travel habits and where you live, it may also be worth investing in a 16-25 railcard to save a third off your journey.

You’re often eligible for in-store discounts just by showing your student card and many clubs and bars will offer discount entry and drinks for students during the week.

 

5. Have fun without breaking the bank

With endless choices for entertainment in big cities, it can be tempting to exhaust your student loan on concert tickets and cinema trips.

Look out for discounted theatre tickets or cinema membership cards, and try volunteering at a music festival to see all of your favourite acts for free.

Remember that some of the most established museums in the country don’t charge entry and many cities like London hold free walking tours to help you get acquainted with your home while having a nice day out.

Whether you spend a sunny day relaxing in the park, or perusing a local art gallery, there’s plenty to see and do in the city without wrecking your bank account.

Photos: Annie Kruntcheva

The Big Accommodation Debate: Home or Away?

With the cost of living increasing annually, would you choose to live at home or in halls during university? Terrelle Iziren takes a look at the pros and cons of both.


Student bedroom

For many people, beginning university is an opportunity to start a new chapter, moving tens, hundreds, even thousands of miles away from home. Who wouldn’t be thrilled by such freedom? Although for some, commuting from home is the more efficient option.  You don’t have to fork out hundreds of pounds each week on rent, or deal with unreasonable landlords.

In 2017, student money website, Save The Student, asked over 2,000 students for feedback on their accommodation arrangements. The consensus in recent years has been that renting privately has provided better value for students, and this was evident in 47% of the quizzed students doing so. This was significantly higher than the 34% who live in university halls, 9% in private halls and the 8% who live with their parents.  One student wrote, “The toilet broke and the landlord took a month to fix it.” Another reflected “Since I live at home, I travel for an hour-and-a-half one way to get to university. It can be difficult and prevents me from making friends, or joining any societies.”

Being a student commuting from home has had its ups and downs for me. In the long-term it’s worked out a cost-effective option to commute to university, especially when my commute is only an hour long. However, you do have the pain of delayed, over-crowded trains and out of a group of friends, being among the first to leave after an evening out because you have the furthest journey. It takes some getting used to but at least you’re not paying lump sums of maintenance fees on top of a £9,250 per-year degree. Do home students still get the full package? “I’m not missing out on much other than clubbing. I feel just as welcome and included with the university experiences such as late- night study periods at the library and other facilities on campus”, said Rebecca, a second-year Education student at Goldsmiths.

Living in Halls is an experience that resonates with many students when reflecting on their time at university, and why not? Many universities have halls of residence right next to campus, so if you’ve got that dreaded 9am lecture on a cold Monday morning, it’s always reassuring that you won’t have too far to travel. You’ll also have all the fun extra-curricular activities such as sports societies and student nights on your doorstep, so what better time than Freshers’ week to get stuck in! So how do students living in halls feel about experiences they’ve had in their accommodation? Karan, an undergraduate at Kings College, London suggested “Anyone living in halls gets to socialise more. They can cut back on commuting time which can be used for other activities instead.” Not only are you less likely to miss out on events on campus, but if you’re enjoying a night out – you can stay out for as long as you want. Also, if your prospective uni is hundreds of miles away from your home and you know which halls you’ll be staying in but want more info – no problem. Many student halls do have Facebook pages for students to plan freshers’ week events with their new flatmates, so you won’t feel left out.

Students cooking together in student halls

Living in halls can be a great way to socialise more, even if it’s just cooking a meal together

While living in halls offers many students freedom of living away from home for the first time, living with new people can also have its challenges. A communal kitchen can mean pots, pans and cleaning products getting mixed-up. In this case, your room may be the safest home for them. So what else disappoints students about living in halls? “Sharing with 18-year-olds that don’t clean the kitchen. Although, one good thing is there’s always people around to socialise with whenever you feel lonely”, added Conrad, an International Relations & Chinese student at Goldsmiths.

The best way for home students to get involved at uni is by joining societies. Even while you’ll make friends on your course, living off campus can mean missing out on some aspects of the experience. In my first year I joined several, notably the Student Newspaper, Hockey Society and Christian Union. Many societies will have social events outside of uni too, so it’s a great way to explore your town or city plus meet students from other universities and cultures. Just like those living on campus, students commuting from home can gain greater independence. For me, working part-time and cooking for myself and family, helped me ease into the transition to adulthood – no different to how my peers would have felt in halls.

Ultimately it’s your choice. If the distance between uni and home is less than two hours, then, depending on the location of your university choice(s) and rent prices – commuting may help you to save money. Although, if you do enjoy your own space, then why not try halls or rent privately?

An introduction to BA Media and Communications

Undergraduate student Ji Hoon writes about what it’s like to study BA Media and Communications at Goldsmiths.


My course is Media and Communications which is one of Goldsmiths’ famous courses. This course’s modules consist of half theory-based modules and half practice-based modules.

Theory-based modules are divided into lectures and seminars. For the first-year students, there are two or three lectures and seminars per semester. The process of those is the same as other universities which have lectures first with seminars after. Seminars are based on discussion with other students to develop essay plans or writing skills with lecturers. Especially, lecturers offer one-to-one sessions with all individual students. So students can book the sessions when they do not understand specific topics from lectures and want to discuss your final essays with tutors.

Media and Communication’s lectures are also really special because well-known scholars teach students, for example, Angela McRobbie and James Curran, some of the most famous scholars in media and feminism study areas. Taking those people’s lectures can be special and really important for everyone who wants to study media.

All students need to write final essays, but there are no exams on our courses. It means that final essays, which are normally between 1,500 and 2500 word counts in first year, are the only components to get grades from courses. But students do not need to worry too much since all lecturers friendly teach how to write a good essay especially in the first year, and if you do reading every week for lectures, you’ll have no problem to choose interesting topics for your essays.

BA Media and Communications glitch photography of a classroom

An example of glitch photography taken by Ji Hoon on the Media Arts module

Now to change the topic to talk about practice-based modules. For the first year, students can choose five different practice media courses. Examples include animation, television, Illustration, radio, photography, interactive media, journalism and so on. There are many choices students can choose. In the first year, students learn one course over two weeks. In two weeks, professors teach us the basic knowledge of the subject and how to treat media. For instance, in the photography course, students can learn basic knowledge of cameras, such as how can camera capture objects using lights. Taking black and white photos and developing photos that student took the first week in dark rooms are also part of the photography course.

After doing all practice modules, students can choose two of them to study in depth during the second semester of the first year and first semester of the second year. So, students who want to work in media industries but do not know what exactly want to do can have the experience of learning many different media and find their own specialization for future careers. Thus, studying Media and Communications at Goldsmiths is a really good chance to learn many theories and many practical media together.

My first few months at Goldsmiths

Ana Umpierre Rivera, MA in Global Media and Transnational Communications student, recounts her first few months at Goldsmiths as an international student.

Year on year, Goldsmiths welcomes students from more than 140 countries.

Being an international student in the UK can be overwhelming, but is a great experience that you should make the best of. As a postgraduate Media and Communications student, I felt my introductory courses were captivating and diverse. The first few weeks of class at Goldsmiths were positively intense because of the many activities planned for Welcome Week. In addition, I was getting to know my modules.

You will constantly be reminded by your parents that you came here to study. But you also have to give yourself time to enjoy the experience.

It can be tough for a student to get to know their course, but the lecturers at Goldsmiths are always open to questions and available via email or personal appointment. The university also offers non-assessed academic writing skills courses, as well as assistance in understanding difficult academic texts.

You will constantly be reminded by your parents (or even yourself) that you came here to study. But you also have to give yourself time to enjoy the experience, and profit from all the activities the university and the city have to offer. You should check the bulletin boards constantly for interesting conferences, lectures and workshops. You can enjoy these activities with friends that you will make on your programme or on any additional courses that you take.

The topic covered on my programme are very current. This will give me a greater understanding of different matters, which will be useful in the job market.

One of the greatest assets of Goldsmiths is that often, your class will be composed of other international students. For me, this is one of the greatest assets of my programme; I have been able to interact with people from China, Russia, Germany, Mexico, Africa and Switzerland. This allows you to gain perspective of different issues from another world view, learn new languages and traditions and share information about your own country.

A good thing about my programme is that the topics covered are very current. This means that the theory is illustrated with a lot of issues going on in the world; especially within political and cultural realms. This is really helpful, because it will allow me to have a greater understanding of different matters which will be useful when I enter the job market. I believe this will give me more advantages since I am developing skills to analyse issues in ways that people outside academia might not have thought about.

The Professor Stuart Hall Building, home to the Department of Media and Communications, is a thriving part of the campus.

In the end, the most important thing is to enjoy all the adventures, the knowledge and the people you meet. The truth is that not everybody has the opportunity to have this experience and we should definitely treasure it.