Preparing for Student Life

Hello again! Hope y’all remember me, but also if you’re new, I’m Seema and I’m a third year Digital Media Arts student. You should check my previous blog for more details and introductions. Today I want to give you an idea of what to expect from student life when you get here, I know I would’ve wanted someone to prepare me for that before I came.

Now let’s dive into today’s blog!

Let’s say you got accepted and now you’re very excited to move to the UK and live on your own. Assuming it’s the first time you live away from home; no parents to drive you around, no mother to cook your food or do your laundry, not even siblings you can blame for messing up your bed. You’re going to have to do it all yourself. I know it sounds daunting at first but read on, it gets better I promise. I’m going to tell you the top 4 things I learned from living on my own, so that you could have a head start when you get here.

1 – Food, cooking, & grocery shopping

In the words of some cartoon I used to watch when I was a kid “Some people eat to live, and some people live to eat” I consider myself a good mix of both. Food is a very important thing to think about. You need to make sure that you will be able to feed yourself nutritious food in order to maintain a better and healthy student life.

But how do you get around to doing that?

I assume if you’re a girl living in Jordan (or any Arab country) your mom always nags you to learn to make stuff in the kitchen other than washing the dishes. If you’re a kitchen savvy lady then good for you, I salute you. That goes the same if you’re a guy who can cook (I know you’re a precious few so keep it up!). I do believe that boys should be taught how to stuff in the kitchen just as well as girls, but mostly that’s not the case. If you’re one of the guys/girls who’ve never tried to even boil water (I’m being sarcastic here y’all) then I suggest you ask your mom to teach you how to make a couple of basic dishes before you leave. Reasons for that are: A- you will be so thankful that you can make stuff on your own when you’re broke and can’t eat out and B- having your mother teaching you to cook in person is SO much easier than having her doing it over Skype. You will have to learn to cook some dishes alone once you’re put on the spot when you’re alone, but like I said a bit of experience never hurts.

An advantage of living in Guildford is that you will have a Tesco grand store within a very close parameter of the university campus and Manor Park accommodation. It has almost everything you need to buy for a healthy diet (but also lots of junk food for the unhealthy part of that diet *wink wink*) that includes a wide variety of fruits & vegetables, fresh breads and dairy, and if you’re worried about Halal meat there’s a section in there especially for that. If you can balance your meals between the home cooked meals and a couple of times eating out, you’ll be all set.

Other than that, Guildford has a huge array of restaurants that vary from student budget friendly to extravaganza night out. Recently lots of them started serving Halal meat as well, so yay for us! I should write a post especially about restaurants in Guildford soon.

2 – Budgeting

If you have experience with budgeting from before that will be a huge plus when you start living on your own. You will realise it is VERY easy to spend so much money in so little time without noticing and then regretting it later. When you get to Surrey, you will have to create a student bank account. That usually consists of two accounts: a savings account an a debit card account. Your parents might leave you a certain amount in your savings account or choose to send you a certain amount every once in a while. In any case, you will have to find a way to allocate a certain amount to live by each week (ideally). In my experience, the general amount I spent in my first year each week was £150 which was a bit too much for a student. Now I spend around £70-£100 a week depending on how outgoing I was that week. Those amounts don’t include days out to London and such, I put aside special money for that.

The best way to go around it is keep note of the expenses you make in your first few weeks, look back on them and see if there are some you can scratch out, then try to live by however much you found you need to spend. Of course that doesn’t include the occasional “Treat yo’ self” shop or meal 😉

3 – Settling in & finding friends

Like I said in the beginning of this post, you are going to be here alone. But that will not be for long (unless you prefer to be alone really I’m not here to tell you what to do) because there are so many opportunities for new students in Welcome Week to dip into the social life of the university. It all starts with Freshers Fayre, remember that from my first post? Essentially, it is the biggest even of Freshers week where student have an opportunity to meet all of the social and sports societies in the university, sign up with them, and meet new people. Some societies y’all would be interested to know exist at the University of Surrey are: Arabic Society, Surrey Islamic Society, and Maghreb Union Society. Those are good starting points to meeting people who are close from home, but also there are so many other societies for your interests where you can meet people from different places in the world who share your passions. You could meet your best friend at one of them!

You might find it easier to get to know people from your own course though. Personally, my course has very few student in it (15 in my year, we’re a very small course) but other courses can have up to 400+ students in them. Being in one of those courses is like a big Kinder egg, will you sit next to your future best friend in your first class or will you get grouped with them for a project halfway through the semester?

In general my advice is to always be open to meeting people. If you’re awkward in social situations maybe practice how you would introduce yourself when you meet someone new. The campus is so diverse and it is very interesting to learn about where people are from and hear their stories. Get one of your own. But don’t stress too much about it, you’ll meet amazing people that you’ll be friends with for a long time, and they’ll be from places you’ve never imagined you’d know someone from!

4 – Time Management

After you’ve eaten well, made friends, and had fun, it’s time to focus on the real reason you came here: studying.


Well, ok. But really, this is university, you need to do well. I have one main advice when it comes to studying:


I’m not saying I don’t do it, I’m no saint. But I’m meant to advise you out of experience, and well this is the most important one of all. There will be weeks where your professors will cut you some slack and not give you much material, but then the next thing you know it’s week 7 and you have an assignment due on Monday (I’ve been there, not a very nice feeling). After being struck in the face in my first year with how assignments here work, I have developed a way of organising my workload that I find efficient:

  • Check your module handbooks for all the dates of your assignments, hand-ins, and exams. Write them down in your phone calendar.
  • Create a mini-wall calendar to hang in your room with all the dates and the week numbers the you have things due. Having a visual reminder of the work you have to do pushes you to get it done.
  • Write a to-do list daily/weekly. This depends on how efficient you know you are, but actually having an idea of what you need to get done really helps.

These are very basic, but they do work.

Well, that’s it for today. I know this might’ve been long, but you know, it’s not all fun and games all the time. I hope y’all learned something today, or at least got an idea of what you can expect from moving here to study. All in all, it is a very self-developing experience that I am very grateful I had, and you should be very excited to get to know yourself more when you get here.

For now, I bid you a farewell, and I’ll see you in my next post!