Starting university can be a daunting experience. For many it’s their first time living away from home, taking care of their own finances, and being completely independent.
But what about if you decide to live at home?
You may have made this decision for various reasons: financially it might make sense, living close to uni makes commuting a realistic option, or perhaps you don’t feel ready to move out just yet.
Whatever the reason, living at home raises its own questions and concerns among freshers so we’ll be giving you 10 tips today to address the most common ones!
The commute is often an aspect of living at home that people dread. Synonymous with images of crowded buses, delayed trains, and early morning starts it can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some ways to change that:
Disclaimer: since most students commute via some form of public transport these tips are aimed at them.
- Use the morning commute as a time to study
Having a tablet, laptop or even your phone makes studying on your commute only a few clicks away and cuts out the faff of having to haul around heavy books and messy pages of notes.
If you’re one of the many who like to pre-read slides for their lectures, the commute is the perfect time to do that! If you’re a medic you could review some anatomy with your Anki flashcards or read up on the week's case and answer a few quick questions from the agenda.
Or if studying on the train sounds like a nightmare, how about listening to that Mufti Menk lecture you’ve been meaning to, or some peaceful Quran to start your day off with an Iman boost?
- Use the commute back as a chance to rest
A common challenge for commuting students is feeling too tired to study by the time you get home. Combat this by considering the commute back home as an opportunity to rest in itself rather than a means to an end. As long as you don’t miss your stop, why not have a quick power nap or just take the time to sit back and relax? If you find that this still doesn’t help - maybe because your journey involves a long walk, then recognise this early on and be realistic. Don’t expect yourself to get straight to work when you come home, make it a priority to set aside some time to rest and get your energy back first.
Reminder: Be sure to say your adhkar while commuting to stay safe especially when travelling home alone at night!
- Get to know fellow commuters
Manchester is a big university and an even bigger city, which means there’s almost always someone commuting by the same route as you! Don’t be afraid to ask people how they’re getting home, what bus they’re taking, or which way they’re headed. Often even people living in accommodation such as Fallowfield or Victoria take public transport or have a bit of a walk to get down Oxford road so it’s really easy to find people to share your journey with, even if it’s just for part of the way.
Having a commuting buddy will make the journey less tedious and can help you avoid FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
- Give yourself plenty of time to commute
Commuting comes hand-in-hand with delays and cancellations. So, make it a habit to always give yourself room for the unexpected in your morning journey.
The “uni experience”
A common concern we hear is: ‘Will I miss out on the uni experience by commuting?'
It’s time to bust this long-standing myth. The truth is it's completely up to you! Living at home is almost never the obstacle it seems to be when it comes to making close friends, going out for a meal, and attending the events and socials that you want to.
- Get to know your course mates
Getting to know people on your course is always a good place to start. They may be the first people you meet at uni, so be open to chatting and spending extra time with them! Grabbing lunch, going to the library together on a study date, or even heading to a nearby park (if the Manchester weather lets you) is an easy way to become familiar with some new faces. This is also a great opportunity to incorporate socialising into your day since staying late for society events might not be an option for some commuters.
- Check out societies
Come freshers week, everyone will be in a similar position and likely feeling a bit nervous. Approaching people out in public can be very daunting, so by attending society events meeting new people becomes a bit easier.
You may find it difficult to stay late for evening events so make the most of freshers when there will be more events running during the day. Some societies may be holding events online this year, which is perfect for commuters! And as a last port of call if there’s not much on and you're bored or not sure where to find people, definitely head over to McDougall’s prayer hall at any time! This is the hub for Muslims on campus and you’ll meet plenty of welcoming brothers/sisters to chill and spend time with.
Side note: when it comes to societies, a special mention has to be given to ISoc; for Muslim students on campus, it opens the doors to a community from which you can benefit spiritually (insha'Allah) as well as a place to socialise and meet new people. Make sure to check our events out!
- Utilise social media
Facebook makes it really easy to connect with fellow freshers. There’s plenty of group chats out there. The fresher’s ones are a good place to start, however, we’d recommend checking out some society group chats too. That way, you can meet people with shared interests, which is more likely to lead to friendship.
You can also message the @manchesterisoc insta page to be added to the ISoc Freshers 2020 (Sisters/Brothers) Whatsapp group chats too!
By joining these group chats, you can get to know people and can perhaps arrange some meet-ups, all before you even step foot on campus.
How do I balance it all?
- The importance of seeking knowledge
Realise that seeking knowledge is a fardh. This applies to any kind of knowledge; be it worldly, academic, or Islamic. Most importantly, strive to seek Islam amongst your books. Even the animals and fish will seek forgiveness for this individual who studies. The significance of this is that the one who seeks knowledge learns about the rights of the Creator, the creation, and the world he resides in. He isn't thrown by whatever he encounters but has self-assurance.
Make the intention to study at least, you have to start somewhere.
- Work smarter not harder
The key to being a successful student while commuting is learning to work efficiently. Everybody is different so there is no one way to go about this but experiment with different methods and routines to figure out what works best for you. For example, do you prefer to go home straight away and get all your work done in the comfort of your room? Or do you work more efficiently going to the library after class and being in that study environment?
Consider your energy levels and what time of day you work best during. You’ll do yourself a huge favour figuring out early on in your degree how to get your work done in a few hours instead of it taking the whole day.
Learn to prioritise important or urgent tasks over others – write a checklist or make a mental note of what you plan to get done before you set out to do it.
Above all, be flexible. Some days you’ll be on top of everything and others you’ll feel like you’re swamped. That’s fine! As students, we all have our good days and bad days, and this is part of the learning experience.
- Make time for life outside of university
Sometimes it might seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you want. To help fix this, we recommend setting time aside for your hobbies and interests, just as you set time aside for study.
Allocate a specific portion of your time for life outside of studying. Dedicate this time to working on yourself spiritually, getting a workout in, or spending time with your family.
You've heard it before but we'll say it again - university is what you make of it. These short few years are an opportunity to do so much more than earn just a diploma. Besides excelling academically, it's an opportunity to move closer to Allah in these defining years, develop ourselves, and of course make life-long memories. We pray Allah makes this a journey of barakah for you and that our advice goes some way in helping you achieve what you set out to do.
We start this journey, and end this piece with the best of words: