August 28, 2020, by Shweta

Everything You Need to Know About Living Away from Home

Many of you will have left home before –  on a holiday or maybe, for volunteer work. But come September, you will make the first big move of your adult life. With the excitement and newfound freedom, come many challenges. Moving to Nottingham will look a little different this year and with unprecedented times ahead, let this serve as a guide to give you just a little more clarity on what to expect when you live away from home.

For starters, it’s one never-ending adventure. And an expensive one, at that. Whether it’s as simple as nipping to the local Tesco or making it all the way across town to our Ikea, everyday chores will have you feeling like Dora the Explorer. Except there’s no magic bag to sort you out when you’ve made a mistake. Chances are this will be your first time navigating adulthood completely independently and mistakes are part of the package; don’t let them get you down. However, ALWAYS be prepared. Be it financially, physically, mentally or even in terms of the clothes on your back, be prepared for some curveballs. Here are some things to remember;

  • Always carry some extra change on you. You never know when you might need a little cash and while I wouldn’t suggest carting along 200 quid, it’s helpful to always have spare change on hand.
  • If it’s late, splurge on a taxi. I say splurge because although it may only be a few quid, the alternative – walking – is free. As a uni student, “free” is always tempting but those extra few pounds spent on an Uber can mean the difference between life or death. As dramatic as it sounds, put your safety first so you never have any regrets.
  • This one is for my fellow international students; never underestimate the weather. The sun may be out when you leave for your 9am but British weather is rarely consistent. Carry a light jacket or umbrella and thank me later.
  • Put your student card in your phone case so it’s easy to whip out when entering the bus. There’s nothing more stressful than holding up a Monday morning queue because you’ve lost your card in your bag.
  • Talk to other students before committing to any realtors in your house hunt for 2nd It’s not uncommon to hear stories of horrifying landlords and rental contracts so do your research before falling for that en-suite.

Secondly, living away from home comes with a side of homesickness. Don’t tell yourself it won’t happen because you’d be lying. Instead, come prepared. Make your dorm room feel homely by bringing pictures and other comforting knick-knacks. Remember to keep in touch with family and friends. Having had all of 2020 to perfect your virtual social skills, get creative in keeping in touch through virtual game/movie nights etc. And when the homesickness hits, don’t try to run from it. Instead, remind yourself how lucky you are to have had a place to call home and people to call family.

Up next is a concept very dear to me. And if there’s one thing you take away from today’s blog it should be this – internalised conflict is real. I grew up in Dubai and was blessed to have had a safe and healthy childhood. I went to an Indian school and was surrounded by people from a very similar background to myself. Moving to Nottingham exposed me to people from different races, sexualities and walks of life. And with that, came an opportunity to either learn more about the people around me or reject it for fear of the unknown. I chose to learn and with that, I grew. I strongly suggest you do the same. Wherever you come from, chances are that you have not truly and holistically experienced life just yet. But that’s the beauty of pursuing a higher education; going to university gives you a chance to learn more about the world we live in. Instead of running away from, or being defensive about your internal fixations, focus on educating yourself and growing from your experiences. In fact, go out of your way to meet people who are different from you. Always remember that there is something to learn from absolutely every single person you will ever meet.

Finally, and on a lighter-hearted note, I leave you with this – kebab shops are not your friend. Those bright white lights and cheap signage will grab your attention on an almost daily basis, especially when money’s tight. But there’s no replacement for a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. That’s not to say that kebab shops shouldn’t play a part of your university journey; after all, where else to go post-Crisis than for a greasy donor? But always put your mental and physical health first and invest in yourself throughout your time at university. Stay active and stay healthy!

Moving away from home is somehow both, deliriously painful yet mind-numbingly exciting. Enjoy it for what it is and remember to adhere to COVID-19 regulations, even if it means that your Welcome experience won’t be as imagined. And for all those nights you find yourself missing home, remember that one day, returning to Nottingham will feel like going home, away from home.

Until next time,


Posted in Shweta