Saturday, 9 February 2013

Opinions of a Housemate - Student Life Through a Student’s Eyes [Guest article by Sorbus Aucuparia]

[As a quick intro I'd just like to state I had a big debate with myself about sharing my views of the student lifestyle or more so that of the wasters who give them a bad name. I am therefor so very grateful to today's contributor for sharing what I wanted to but with alot more information and truths from the views of the true student.]  

I am a 3rd year Zoology Student at Bangor University in North Wales. I love my course, it is what I have worked my whole life for and I am a very proud student. I thought I would take this opportunity to debunk a few myths and explain a few truths to those who wonder what student life is like for this student in particular.

This week I had 10 hours of lectures, so what does a student do for the rest of the time? Well according to our university handbook; for each 1hr of lecture, a student should spend between 4-9hrs of private study. So that’s most of my week gone already. There is a view of students as lazy party-going drunks, and I’m proud to say that most days I don’t fit anywhere near that category. Unfortunately there are those who don’t use their time well or choose to do other stuff, and I usually think that that is fine, but it will be reflected in your grades. It does get to me that I know people who don’t even turn up to lectures, let alone do the extra, why apply if you cant be bothered to turn up?! Sometimes I feel like the only one stressing about being ill and missing a lecture, or panicking that I haven’t done enough notes this week.  When I’m not bordering on obsessive I relax by watching Attenborough documentaries, reading books and painting, though there is the odd night out and birthday party to attend ;)

Money well spent, some of my wildlife DVD collection 
The student loan:  First the facts, I’m so sick of hearing from the media that we get thousands of tax payers money to sit about doing nothing.
Tuition fee loan – this is paid direct from the government to the Uni to cover costs of teaching, my loan is around £4K per year, for three years but this has just gone up to about £9K per year. I never see this money but I have to pay it all back.
Maintenance loan – this is paid in three chunks directly into the student’s bank account and is basically supposed help with rent, bills, food and any extras.

I pay both these back once I reach £15K per year, taken away from my pay along with the taxes. So I know that whatever I do this will have to be paid off and will follow me throughout life. It is quite scary knowing that I have about £20K of debt, despite having no overdraft or credit card bill. Once the rent is paid and the fridge is full and the books are bought and I’ve printed off a scientific paper in the library and been billed 5p per page, then there is a tiny bit left over for fun.

Textbooks; essential reading for my course, costing between £30-£50
I budget really carefully because surviving on my own is so important to me. Some students have helpful parents who buy them cars or send them allowances. Some students simply max out their overdrafts on expensive clothes and a party lifestyle. I think it is far too easy to see the loan come through in your account and let it go to your head, but that money is to last us three months. To me Student life is as much about worrying if the loan will come through on time or if I will have to stretch the budget a tad further, as it is about studying and gaining a degree. I am very lucky to have been taught by my parents how to budget. I’m so proud that this year, my final year, I have saved enough to afford to sign up for a particular module, which although costing an extra £650, will take me to Tenerife for 10 days to study the Lizards and other wildlife on the island, supervised by some seriously skilled and amazing lecturers. 

Yes of course I splurge occasionally and go out for food with my boyfriend or go to the cinema or treat myself a new dress to go out in, or a new pair of walking boots or something, but I spend the vast majority of my time in clothes from charity shops, because there is just NO NEED to buy designer. I hate hearing of people going on spending sprees with their loan or making the mistake of thinking it was free money and throwing it away on booze. I absolutely detest being invited to Christmas/Birthday parties and being expected to wear a new dress, that no-ones seen before. I would rather spend that £15 on ice-cream and a new wildlife DVD anyway.

I love living in a country where practically anyone can go to university if they work hard enough, but I think it is far to easy to take these things for granted. Anyone who works hard either at Uni or in the world of work has my respect. In this recession it is as hard for me to get by as anyone else, so I will say no more except to thank you for reading and I had better get off this blog and back to some serious research.

Sorbus Aucuparia xxx

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