Life lessons to learn before you go to uni

Whether you’ll be at home with family and commuting, or moving away, there are a few things you can learn now that will help you be more independent, and stand you in good stead for being a real-life actual grown up.

1. How to do laundry

Don’t be that person who brings your washing home for your parents once a fortnight. Learn the basics – the settings and what goes where in terms of detergent and softener, and you’ll be well on your way! Just remember: the tactic ‘chuck everything into the washing machine until there’s not even space for oxygen in there’ is often too tempting to resist for washing novices. Your clothes will end up dry and unwashed in the middle of the machine and your new brightly coloured Students’ Union hoody will have probably run all over your whites. Buy some colour catchers, simple detergent capsules so you don’t need to measure anything, and for the love of everything holy – don’t buy white towels.

2. How to cook basic meals

Gordon Ramsay would have a few choice words for what you choose to call ‘cooking’, wouldn’t he? This is fine when you’re at home with chef mum and dad. But what happens when you’re let loose in a uni kitchen? Hopefully not fire. But haute cuisine is another close improbability. Learn a few basic meals like a tasty pasta sauce, trusty Bolognese, inventive jacket potato toppings, and maybe even a simple cake or bake that you can impress your new flatmates with! YouTube has some great cook-along videos to help get you started.

3. How to put a duvet cover on

Too many students end up sleeping under an uncovered duvet for months just to avoid the horror show that is trying to get your duvet cover on. Rather than crawling inside and desperately pulling for hours to get the cover on, try learning the best method: turn the cover inside out, grab the corners of the cover from inside, the duvet corners too, and just shake until all you need to do is button up at the bottom. Make sure you have a couple of sets of covers and sheets just in case you cleverly put your bedding in the wash at 9 pm – less than ideal if you only have one set….(Oh, and get yourself a good-sized drying rack!).

4. How to budget

Gone are the days when you could make your £2.50 pocket money last the week. Can you be trusted with a student loan?! It’s a good idea to put together an initial weekly budget with your family or older siblings and friends who may have already been to uni. This helps you to understand how many Pot Noodles you can afford whilst also leaving your parents a bit more assured that you won’t get a panicked phone call at the end of the second week because you’ve already managed to spend all of your loan on Waitrose’s finest or the Students’ Union’s well-stocked bar… 

5. How to clean

Whether you have cleaners in your halls or not, or parents who are prepared to do it for you, you must understand the difference between bleach, kitchen surface spray, washing up liquid, bathroom cleaner, and toilet cleaner. It’s not the best idea to wash chopping boards and cutlery in bleach. 

6. How to avoid identity theft

Everyone loves a good folder! Make sure you get a few so you can keep all your official documentation from your uni, UCAS, doctor, bank, and Student Finance. Keeping everything filed away safely will ensure you don’t lose anything important, but also makes it less likely your identity will be stolen if someone breaks into your room with an easy target in mind. It’s also a good idea to scan these documents and keep them in the cloud so you can easily access them wherever you are.

7. How to spend your money wisely

There are certain things you should avoid scrimping on, even if you’re a student. Strong black bin bags are a worthy investment to avoid messy spillages, the very cheapest bread is not always the best (you can taste the difference!), and most importantly, wine sold in a box is never usually a good idea.

Taking the time now to learn these lessons will soon make you the envy of all your new uni mates as you enjoy your menu of new meals and expertly wash your clothes. 

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