Top tips on being a student in a pandemic

Once again we find ourselves in lockdown which means for many of us we won’t be going back to university until at least mid-February. Of course this can make many things a lot harder; living situations, accessing course materials, online learning. To help you get through it I’m going to be doing a series of posts on these different topics to hopefully help you be a bit more productive and a bit less stressed. Of course these are things that work for me, they won’t work for everyone, but if you’re feeling a bit lost you might as well give them a try.

At the moment I am living at home after returning for the Christmas break and attempting to get my work done. I’ve been trying to put little things in place to help myself stay productive but it’s always important to remember that these are very strange times. It’s important to remember that you may not feel as encouraged at the moment, don’t beat yourself up about this because it’s only natural to feel a bit of a strain on your work at the moment.

With working on my dissertation, assignments, seminars and reading there’s a lot to be doing and it can be nice to have something to focus on at the moment. However, the importance of taking a break is a big as ever. Go for a walk, watch a bit of Netflix, call a friend, make sure you’re doing things to relax yourself so that you can feel that bit more fresh and ready to go.

My favourite lunches at the moment

It can often feel that at university the days are busy. This can mean that making lunch needs to be quick, that’s why I’ve decided to give you my favourite quick ideas. I love a warm lunch so these aren’t the best for a packed lunch but with most things being online there’s less of a need for those. I may do a packed lunch ideas post some time soon, for some inspiration.

Omelette – I made my first omelette a few weeks ago and I’m already in love with them. It’s such an easy thing to make, all you really need is eggs and you’re good to go. You may also want some salt and pepper and as you get more confident making them you can add some toppings. I used ham and mushrooms the other day and it was just yummy.

Hummus – there are so many flavours of hummus to try, my favourite has to be red pepper but I do always love an original flavour. I serve mine with carrot sticks and toasted pitta bread to dip in. It’s so easy to make you could even prepare the carrots in advance so you can quickly put everything together at lunch time.

Soup – soup has so many flavours so you can really mix this one up. Whether you make it yourself or use a shop bought one that’s up to you. My favourite is definitely tomato soup and I have it with a warm bread roll to fill me up a bit more. I do sometimes use sliced bread instead but there’s nothing like bread from the oven.

Pancakes – occasionally I love to treat myself to some good old pancakes. Whether they’re the American style or crepes I just love them. There’s so many toppings to choose from, at the moment I’m loving Biscoff spread on mine.

And there we had it my top four lunches for when I need something quick and easy. Plus they can all be done on a student budget.

Socialising in a pandemic

Social distancing and 10 pm curfews are becoming a big part of our lives. While it’s important to adhere to the government guidelines it can feel like they are getting in the way of you having fun at university. I’m here to tell you that this doesn’t have to be the case, there are so many things you can still do to enjoy your time at university and spend time with friends.

Go out for food – whether this is breakfast, lunch, dinner or even brunch there are so many places you can try. Me and my housemates have decided to go for dinner once a month. It gives you a great opportunity to sit down, catch up and have some great food. Maybe there’s somewhere you’ve always wanted to go or a cuisine you’ve always wanted to taste. Try it out, the best part is you don’t have to wash up afterwards.

Have a movie night – rather than going out why not have a cosy night in. Especially as it’s getting colder and the days shorter it can be so much nicer not to leave the house in the evening. Snuggle up with a hot drink and a movie. Maybe even bake some snacks to enjoy as a daytime activity.

Go for a drink or have some drinks at home – yes, if you go out for a drink your night will be cut short but you can still enjoy it. If you don’t fancy that you could just host drinks at home, sticking to the government guidelines of course. It’s a great way to make a night in just a bit more exciting.

Have a games night – get your housemates together for some fun. Whether you play board games or go for a drinking game, it’s a great way to spend an evening.

Bake or cook – make yourself a tasty treat or get your housemates together to make a house dinner. These are such fun activities and then at the end you get to eat what you have created which makes it even better. You could even learn to cook something new or try a friend’s favourite dish just to mix things up a bit.

Take a day trip – within reason of course but there are some great places you can still visit. I recently went to the Victoria and Albert museum and it was a great day out. You did have to book a time slot but it was still free, just means people could adhere to social distancing.

There are so many things that you can do to enjoy your university experience. Most of these things you can do in your own home with the people you live with which is a good option at times like this. Remember to stick to the restrictions put in place by the government but still try and make the most of your university experience.

20 things I learnt before turning 20

As I celebrate my 20th birthday I find it important to look back and realise what I’ve learnt from life up to this point. As I leave behind my teenage years and enter a new decade of my life, I want to reflect on my experiences up to now and how they’ve helped me to grow. In doing so, it also helps me to remember I have much to learn and to go into my twenties ready for new challenges. Because I’m going to explain what I mean by each point, this is going to be a long post so grab a cup of tea and a biscuit and dive in.

  1. The importance of me time: I feel like I’ve definitely spoken about this on my blog before but that’s only because I feel it is so important. For so long, I would fill all my time wanting to keep busy but all this time I was neglecting my need for time alone. Don’t get me wrong I love to see friends and family and often start to feel lonely when I haven’t had contact for a while. However, I’ve learnt to embrace the time when I’m not surrounded by people and if I have a busy schedule I make time to have a bit of self-care.
  2. People will change and that’s okay: this includes you. Change can be scary but it’s important to embrace it as it can often be for the best. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time things can work out in the end. It may be a blessing in disguise.
  3. You really do live and learn: I’ve heard this saying so many times and as cliché as it sounds it’s very much true. Most people are just learning as they go along. Even if you feel overwhelmed by the future just remember you’ll learn as you grow and things will begin to fall into place. This leads me nicely into my next point.
  4. Own up to your mistakes and learn from them: It can be scary realising you’ve made mistakes and admitting to them. This however, is the only way you can learn and begin to improve yourself. Also, in facing them straight on will allow for others for forgive you, if what you have done has impacted others in some way.
  5. 18 may be legally an adult but it doesn’t feel like it: I may have been an adult legally for the past two years but there’s so many points of adulthood that I am yet to learn. There are experiences that I haven’t yet had or issues I haven’t yet worked out how to resolve but I am slowly learning. You don’t just learn how to be an adult over night.
  6. You won’t do everything first try: It can be so easy to think something is too difficult and give up after failing first try but you won’t learn if you don’t persevere. I recently attempted to put up shelves for the first time (which was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be) and I just couldn’t get it right. In the end I asked for some help but I still worked through it and now I’ve learnt how to do it for next time.
  7. Not only is it okay to ask for help but it’s important: This has so much scope. It relates to my previous point about how you may think something should be easy and it would be embarrassing to ask for help. Most of the time people will be happy to help and won’t care if they think it’s easy, people are different. Not only this, but if you’re struggling with say mental health, it is vital to open up and look for help.
  8. Other people will go through the same things you will, you just may not know it: You may feel alone in your struggles at times but often you won’t be the only one experiencing it. I’ve found that by opening up to friends about things we can often relate and feel less alone. And even if they personally haven’t been through it, they may know someone who has or offer advice on how to get through it while being there for you.
  9. How to live independently: Going to university has eased me into living alone. I have that security that I will be going home in the holidays while navigating independent living during term time. Like I said earlier about living and learning you’ll work this out as you go along. Yes, it can be daunting at first but if you’re at uni most people will be in the same position and you can get through it together.
  10. Things can be harder than they seem and vice versa: A lot of the time you could be dreading doing something thinking it will be too difficult when it really isn’t. The best way to navigate this is to wait and see. As the saying goes; cross that bridge when you come to it. Even if something is a lot more difficult than you perceived it to be you can work through it, don’t let yourself be put off by that.
  11. Make the most of your time with friends and family: I don’t mean this in a morbid way but going off to university changed the dynamic of when I see people. The friends that I saw everyday at school and my family who I permanently lived with suddenly became people I would only really see in the holidays or if I visited for a weekend. My university friends became people I live with and then don’t see when I go home. I try not to take advantage of the time spent with people and enjoy the memories we make.
  12. Growing up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be: I remember being a young teenager looking up to people in their late teens thinking they were so grown up. Now I’m at that age I don’t feel that way at all. It’s strange how we perceive the years ahead without truly knowing what’s going on.
  13. You can’t know everything: when I was younger in school I loved the thought of discovering and learning new things and I still do now. The only difference is now there’s so much more to the world than I really realised and I can’t learn things fast enough. I find it important to accept there will be conversations where I won’t have an opinion because I don’t know enough on a topic but I hope from understanding the stories and opinions of others I can learn new things.
  14. You’ll have bad days, the important thing is learning to embrace the good days: So often it is easy to dwell on the bad days and thing what went wrong or what could have gone better. Instead, I like to look at the good days and treasure the memories.
  15. You won’t look stupid admitting you don’t know something: I personally feel it’s better to admit you don’t know something so that you can be informed. You’ll probably look even more silly talking on a topic you don’t know anything about or you don’t fully understand. Personally, I love a chance to learn something new!
  16. It’s important to go at my own pace: For so long I saw life as a race. I felt like I needed to keep up with my peers to be successful in life. However, as I’ve grown up I’ve realised I need to do things at my own pace and it will be worth taking it slow in the end.
  17. I have definitely changed over the years: like I said earlier change can be really good. I like to look back over how I’ve changed and what life events have led me to do so. I have come to the realisation that I’m not the same person I was when I was 16 and that really is a good thing. Looking back at her I’m glad of everything I went through to become who I am today.
  18. I have slowly grown into myself as I navigate life: As I have lived and exited my bubble life, I have learnt to understand myself better and developed as a person.
  19. There is still uncertainty ahead: Though I have learnt so much in my first 20 years, there is still so much to learn. I have no idea where I will be in five years or realistically even a year from now. But, I look forward to finding out.
  20. I’ve had my ups and downs but so far I’ve had a good twenty years!

Packing for university: the bedroom

This is probably my favourite thing about moving into my university house. I love decorating my bedroom and making it feel more like home. This post is going to be one where I will make suggestions of what you might want to take to make your room extra comfortable but I will start off with the essentials.

Bedding: first things first you’ll be sleeping in your bedroom and so obviously you’ll need bedding. The first thing you need to do is find out what size bed your room will have, so that you know what size bedding to purchase. Once this is sorted you’ll want a duvet, pillows and bed linen. I took two pillows for my single bed in first year and four for my double bed in second so it’s just working out what you need to be comfy. Remember you’ll be sleeping here every night so you want to have that added comfort. I personally had two sets of linen (duvet cover, pillow cases and sheet) so that I had a spare one for when one was in the wash and so that I could change it up a bit. I’d say you could get away with only having one of you plan to keep on top of your washing and dry it in the tumble dryer. I also had cushions and a blanket for extra comfort and to make everything look a bit nicer. Obviously these aren’t essential but they can add something to your room if that’s what you like.

Find out what is provided: there are things you will need that may be provided by your halls so check out whether these things come with it. I would definitely recommend a lamp for either your bedside table or your desk as you may want light without having to use the big light. I would also recommend you take a extension lead. Not only do they mean you can plug things in when there are no plugs nearby, they will increase the plug sockets you have which may otherwise be limited. It’s also a good idea to take storage boxes, I used these for under my bed so that I had more space to keep things I needed but weren’t in daily use. I took a full length mirror as well which was really good to have, it went over a door so I hung it off my wardrobe. If this is something you’d need you might want to look whether that is provided as I had one in the house for second year but had to take my own in first year.

Clothes: you may have limited wardrobe space (I know I did) so I’d recommend you don’t take all your clothes with you. I just took the season appropriate clothes then swapped them over in the holidays as the weather changed.

Decorations: though this is not an essential this will definitely make you feel more at home if you have reminders at university. I loved having photos up and lot of lights to make it feel more cosy. When doing this, do be careful that you keep in line with the policy of your accommodation as they may fine you for sticker or blue tack marks. I used command strips which claim they don’t leave a mark but some of them didn’t work as well and pulled some of the paint off. Though I didn’t receive a fine or anything for this it’s whether you want to take that risk.

That’s all for the bedroom but look out for my next post in this series where I’ll talk about stationary bits I recommend.

Introducing me

First I’d like to say welcome to my blog and thank you for checking it out. Let me introduce myself; I’m Eden, I’m 19 years old and I’m going into my third year of university at Reading where I study history. My blog has six sections; uni life, food, travel, books, budgeting and after uni in which I aim to give advice on everything you need to know about university life.


Where to look for what?

Travel – you may think being a student or a graduate on a budget makes travel impossible. Read how you can still enjoy travelling on a budget and my recommendations on the best places to go on holiday.

Budgeting – if I’d have tried giving budgeting advice two years ago, it would not have gone well but I’ve learnt over my past two years at uni. Learning from my own mistakes has really helped me develop a good relationship with money and to stay out of my overdraft.

Food – going to uni may be the first time you start to cook for yourself which can be difficult. Read my tips and recipes for easy to make food that you can easily make single portions of or make a large batch to freeze and enjoy later.

Uni life – there is so much going on at uni that you may need advice for, so check out this section where I will hope to answer all your questions about being a student.

After uni – as I’m going into my third year of uni I’m having to think about what I am going to do after uni. I want to document my experience in learning about the options out there and the path I take.

Books – want to know what to read next or whether a book is even worth the read? Have a read of my book reviews.


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