Tuesday, 13 March 2012

My University Experience, so far... - Part Three - Second Year, Work Load and Living in a House

Hi everyone!

I'm finally getting around to writing part three of this feature; there's only one more left, honest! But more on that in a bit.
In this post I'm going to talk about house-hunting, how I've found living in a house compared to halls, and the second year work load.
First, here's a picture of me and Nat, one of my housemates before an 'anything but clothes' party - cute cling film top and bin bag skirts:
Cling film is hideously unflattering, I'm not flat chested, I promise!

When it came to house-hunting, the actual process itself was relatively easy. I went to an open day before I came to uni and they frightened the life out of me by saying that you should have an idea of who you want to live with by December of your first year; for me that wasn't true. I didn't decide until late January who I wanted to live with, and there was not real rush to choose a house straight off the bat (saying that, I live with 2 other girls in a 4 bedroomed house, there is more competition to get larger houses). I didn't want to live with my flatmates in halls, and became friends with Lydia as we're on the same course; Nat was Lydia's flatmate in halls so we all got together one day and decided what we wanted. We also spent more time together as a group to really get to know one another.

Nat, Lydia and I signed up with an agency (homes4u, in Manchester, if you're interested) which I would recommend for finding your first house. We got talked through the process, and found some houses to view. Going with an agency saves panic and worry if you're not sure about what you're doing, however there are agency fees to pay, so beware of that.

We weren't fussy about what we wanted, but decided early on the amount of rent we wanted to pay per week. I would suggest having a browse at student housing in your area online to help gauge this as different areas have different price ranges, for example, we looked at houses from £50 up to about £75 per week, whereas my sister, who lives in York, was looking £85 per week upwards. 

One tip I would suggest would be don't look at too many houses! If you look at 10+ houses, you forget what you've seen and it all gets a bit muddled. Lydia and I looked at about 5 houses, and whittled it down to two. We then went back for a second viewing to each with Nat - always go for a second viewing - before deciding on the house.

House hunting is a relatively simple process, but here are a few tips:
  • stand your ground - if there are things you want to change, speak with the landlord to see if they can be done. Our landlord was very understanding and said if there was anything we didn't like, he would change it. 
  • don't take advantage though - although landlords, from my experience, are accommodating, there are always plenty of other students who can take your place, so don't be cheeky.
  • decide what you want before you look - use the internet and see what you want in a house, and what is reasonable. For example, we looked at mainly small terraced houses, so we didn't expect a huge garden.
  • compromise - it isn't just you that's going to be living in the house, so sacrifice cupboard space/the best bedroom etc. The easiest way we found was to draw straws. 
  • be willing to share - everything is halls can be very much 'yours', but in a house it makes much more sense to buy just one bottle of washing up liquid, one tub of butter, one box of washing powder. Treat it much more like home.

When it comes to living in a house or flat, it is often much cheaper than living in halls. I have enjoyed living in a house much more than halls as it feels more homely. It is nice to have a space that you can truly make your own without the huge list of rules that apply in halls. We love our house so much we have decided that we don't want to move; in fact another girl is coming to live with us so there will be four of us! It's really exciting. To put it simple, a house is just 100% better than halls.

One part of my room. Fanta bottle left over from a Dominos order!

Before starting second year I was extremely apprehensive because 'second year counts!!!' - cue panic. For most universities the pass rate for first year is 40%, whereas in second year everything counts towards your degree.
However, it really isn't that bad, for me at least. I worked (relatively) hard in my first year, so I knew what sort of grades I could get if I applied myself. 

My work load was pretty similar to first year, the post Christmas essay rush is the worst; at MMU you spend the month before Christmas break writing essays, and then they expect you to write 3 essays over the three weeks we're home, which safe to say did not happen. When it comes to studying/essay writing you just have to know your strengths and weaknesses. I knew that I wasn't going to get the greatest grades in my essays after Christmas, so I didn't set myself up to be disappointed.

Second year is all about settling back in quickly:
  • buy your reading lists over summer and get reading! I didn't, and it does make it a lot easier in the long run (I will be doing for my third year as dissertation reading will probably take over my life)
  • get organised - make a specific space in your room for studying. Essay writing in bed is not the best thing (although again, I am guilty of it)
  • don't panic! - your tutors are there to help. In second year you get to choose some, if not all of your modules, so a lot of it you won't know. Email or ask to speak to your tutor after the lecture/workshop/seminar. Any correspondence is a good thing; a lot of my tutors now know my name and are much more friendly. Don't treat them like school teachers, they are much more on your wave-length!

I think that's everything for this post! I feel like I've rambled enough. I hope this helps some of you, and I hope I haven't come across as preachy, this is just my experience!
The next, and final, post will be all about study tips/organisation and will hopefully be a bit shorter!

Do you have any other tips to share? Drop a comment, I'd love to read them

Thanks for reading x


  1. Great advice that you've given here! I moved out this year into a student house in Manchester for my 2nd year and it's just been a nightmare!

    I've tagged you in a tag :)
    Natalie xx


    1. I've just seen this :) thank you I'll do the tag asap! xx

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