National Vegetarian Week: Easy Recipes

They say that variety is the spice of life, and what better time to try something new than National Vegetarian Week – meat-free meals that might not have crossed your mind otherwise can be a just-as-tasty treat as your usual dishes. Struggling students can benefit too; you’ll be saving some money by forsaking the burgers and resisting the sausages – no meat in your trolley guarantees a lower total at the till.

Here’s what we’ll be cooking to kick off National Vegetarian Week.

Simple bean and rice burritos
Meat-free Mexican…

Fry up some onion and taco seasoning for a few minutes before adding in Mexican mixed beans, chopped tomatoes and sweetcorn.

Splash in three tablespoons of water and keep it going until it starts to boil, at which point you can add a packet of microwavable quick-cook rice.

When the rice has absorbed the water and softened, you can pop it all into a tortilla wrap and top with guacamole, sour cream and cheese.

The hardest part of this recipe is folding the tortilla into something that resembles a burrito!


One-pan chickpea curry
Less chicken, more chickpea…

Fry some onion for a few minutes. When your eyes start to water, it’s time to chuck in the chickpeas and some chopped tomato.

Sprinkle (salt bae style) a tablespoon of curry powder and mix it all together, leaving to simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, microwave the rice and then serve with the curry. Get yourself a naan bread for authentic and aromatic Indian cuisine – jai ho!


Vegetable stir-fry
Vegetarian cooking level: easy…

Free reign for this one – pick your favourite vegetables and chop them into stir-fry sized pieces (we normally go for peppers, beansprouts, mushrooms, garlic and onion) and start frying in a wok.

When the vegetables are getting done, add in some straight-to-wok noodles and let them soften, mixing them amongst your veggie ensemble until they’re looking good to go.

Add in a sachet of stir fry sauce (or add hoisin, soy and water if you’re maestro enough to make your own) and mix well. Pro tip: sprinkle some sesame seeds on top to make your stir-fry look like the real deal.


Student Superheroes

Not all heroes wear capes…unless it’s graduation day

Superhero Day 2017 couldn’t have come at a better time, with The Avengers currently assembling in Durham, just down the road from our brand new student accommodation The Clink. Sometimes the idea of taking Thor’s Hammer to your laptop when it crashes on Deadline Day Eve, or Hulk Smashing your way out of that 9am lecture to get back to bed is tempting, but our kind of superheroes are a little less Stark, and a little more student. Take a look at our pick of the good guys.

Bethel TadesseHidden Scars
Fighting the good fight…
Bethel didn’t use her placement year just to gain experience and get through her degree – she’s used it to make a vitally important and tangible difference by setting up Hidden Scars, a charity that raises awareness of, and works tirelessly to prevent, female genital mutilation in the UK. Bethel runs regular events to explain the dangers of the procedure alongside her full time studies and other projects to improve women’s rights and health. A superhero if ever we’ve seen one.


Neil JenningsStudent Switch Off
Saving the world, one light switch at a time…
Neil runs the Student Switch Off campaign, a not-for-profit mission that encourages students to save energy whilst living in halls of residence or private rented accommodation. Student Switch Off operates in Universities throughout the country and offers incentives such as Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, communal parties and event tickets – more than enough reason to be environmentally friendly. Ice cream in exchange for a tiny good deed? He’s the hero we need, but not the one that we dessert deserve.


Rosie TresslerStudent Minds
There’s a hero inside all of us…
Rosie is the CEO of Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity. Thanks to the work of Rosie and her team, mental health amongst students is more talked about than ever, but the mission is far from complete. The charity’s campaigns continue to inspire chat about students’ wellbeing amongst themselves, their peers and their families. The charity vows to transform the state of student mental health, one conversation at a time. If that’s not a cause to get behind, we don’t know what is.


Xie XuThe Local Hero
The Hero indeed for the Friend in Need…
We can all be a hero to someone, and nobody exemplifies this more than Xie Xu. Xie’s friend, Zhang Chi, suffered from muscular dystrophy, so from 2012 – 2015 Xie carried him to class every day. Thanks to Xie, Zhang sat amongst the top students in their class and has since gone on to college. A true heart-warming hero.


Our favourite websites this week…

We’re all guilty of going to bed early and enjoying a good night’s internet. Whether you’re clicking around whilst watching TV or have given in to temptation and become a semi-professional procrastinator (check out our blog on how to deal with that here), there are always new places to discover online. Here are the things that have been taking up most of our time this week…

Student life is stressful (too stressful? Check this blog out), so it’s totally acceptable to treat yourself now and then to a sale item or two. At least it would be, if it weren’t for that pesky student budget that you’re living on; this is where Honey comes in. This handy browser extension works in the background, looking for discount codes, and will pop up with one whilst you’re checking out. It makes entering your card details that little bit easier…

By students, for students – Brainly is like being a part of the biggest study group ever; ask a question that you just can’t find the answer to and somebody will surely be able to help. Build the community by sharing your knowledge with other struggling students and this site will soon turn into your go-to for revision and research.

A great place to practice, learn and develop new skills. This website has a range of free online courses that could make student life that little bit easier – from touch type training, helping you reach a deadline, to study skills designed to serve you for life, there’s certainly something useful to be found here.

Explore Everest
You’ve been working on an essay for an eternity; the font is looking fuzzy and the word count is still worrying, so you decide to take a break and get some fresh air…except, you’re all-nightering in the library and it’s 2:30am. The next best thing is sitting back and exploring Everest from the comfort of your chair. Put a fan on and wear a rucksack for an even more authentic experience.

Stumble Upon
Select a few things that interest you and let Stumble Upon take you on a journey through weird and wonderful websites that you might’ve never found otherwise. Some you’ll love, some you’ll hate, but this is a top time killer for when you’re taking the break that you’ve definitely, definitely earned.

Struggling to stream or always waiting for websites? Our accommodations have fast, free wifi that can cope with all of your internet needs. Find your university home here.

Hidden Newcastle

Our accommodation in Newcastle, Roman House, is so good that you could be forgiven for opting to spend most of your time in the awesome common room playing some pool, working up a sweat in the on-site gym or chilling with your flatmates in the movie room rather than getting out and about to see the sights of The Toon. We’ll be venturing outside in the Easter break here’s what we’ve got on the to-do list…

Boiler Shop Steamer
Described as “industrial, urban & chic”, this unique space is just a few hundred yards from Roman House and regularly has music nights, exhibitions and one-offs. Boiler Shop claims to be different to other venues and it certainly is; expect this place to quickly become your go-to for things to do and a hub of cultural buzz.

Cat Cafés
Statistically, the average person’s three favourite C’s are coffee, cake and cats…combine all three and we’re happier than we ever could’ve imagined. The fantastically named CatPawCino and the fabulous Mog On The Tyne is where we’re planning to go on those days where you just miss your pets.

Victoria Tunnel
There’s nothing like a bit of sun to make you want to descend underground and enjoy a bit of darkness. We’re suckers for a spook and often find ourselves hankering after some history, and the Victoria Tunnel can provide both. Tours of the tunnel give an insight into wartime Newcastle, with recreations of air raid sirens and planes flying overhead. Worth noting that you also might pick-up the trivia that’s going to win the next pub quiz.

If you’re already a student in Newcastle or hoping to become one, take a look at our fantastic Roman House accommodation here.


Newcastle blog pic

Blogging at Uni

Good idea? Bad idea? Here are our tips for starting a student blog, and why you might consider doing so…

How to begin

Think of a name
Sounds obvious, but this is easier said than done! The Internet, as wonderful as it is, doubles as a graveyard for forgotten blogs. You’ll have never felt frustration like thinking of the perfect name and finding that it’s already taken, idly sitting with a solitary post from 2006.

Blogging is easy (or at least, easier!) when you’re writing about something that you know and enjoy, so play to your strengths. Whether make-up or music; sports or science is your thing, creating interesting content is a crucial part of connecting with your audience. Still struggling for ideas? There’s something that you know more about than anyone in the world: yourself. A blog about your experiences as a student could open all sorts of doors.

Becoming blasé about your blog will soon see it falling behind and being forgotten about – set yourself a goal of a certain amount of posts per week to give you something to strive for and keep your audience engaged, waiting for the next post.

Why blog?

Practice makes perfect
Writing clearly and concisely is something that will come to you over the course of your blog and will stand you in good stead for any future essays or exams – a practiced tone could be key in your quest to impress your marker!

Reap the rewards
It’s great to write for yourself, but it’s rewarding to write for others. You may start to see traffic on your blog and realise that your content is giving your peers valuable insight. Whether you’re keeping them in the loop with the latest movies or staying in sync with fashion, the entries that you post will probably be helping someone, somewhere.

Big blogs make big bucks
A popular blog brings many different money-making opportunities that could make your student life a little less financially strict. Enough traffic will lead to advertising opportunities or even end up with you promoting brands. Free stuff in exchange for talking about them? Oh, go on then!

Student Bank Accounts: What to consider

Student bank accounts are a vital part of your university life – it’s easy to stick with the bank that you’ve always known or pop down to your local branch, but you could be missing out on a great deal elsewhere! It’s important to remember that the bank wants you. By getting a student on-board they are potentially gaining a lifelong customer, or at least one for the next few years, so it’s worth shopping around and finding the best solution. Here are our tips on what to consider when opening a student bank account.

Overdrafts – Is my seminar an overdraft? Because I’ve got 0% interest
It may feel like free money right now, but one day that overdraft will be overdue and the bank will be wanting it back. Therefore it pays to get not necessarily the biggest, but certainly the longest 0% offer that you can – this may well be the best overdraft you’ll ever have, so take your time!

Bank charges – For once, you definitely don’t need a charger
Uni is rarely smooth sailing when it comes to money – there’ll come a point where you’re creeping closer and closer to your overdraft limit, so it’s important to know what happens if you do tiptoe onto the wrong side of the line. Consider bank charges when choosing your account and try to go for the one that makes life easiest for you. A lot of accounts will charge you daily for being past your overdraft, whereas other will give you a handy buffering period to get yourself out of it.

New account incentives – Forgetting freebies and thinking of the future
A free railcard is helpful for those weekend trips home, and you could definitely get some room-completing decorations with that £60 Amazon gift card, but forgoing the freebies for the sake of your finances could be one of the most important factors in your choice of bank. Look past the offers and understand what kind of account you’re opening, because a few bank charges later could wipe out the value of the gift quicker than you can say ‘adulting’.

Understanding the language – Bamboozled by banker talk
We’re all guilty of sometimes putting a positive spin on something to make it sound a bit better, and banks are no different. When it comes to overdrafts, ‘guaranteed’ is better than ‘up to’. For example, a guaranteed overdraft of £1,500 is better than an overdraft of up to £3,000, of which you might only see a third. Remember that nothing is promised – if the banks have a selling point, you’ll know about it.

Struggling to figure out your finances whilst at university? There are some great resources online, such as Money Saving Expert and Save The Student.

Our favourite facts about the UK’s favourite cathedral…

Over twenty years ago, in 1995, Bill Bryson called Durham Cathedral “the best on Earth” and he’s finally been proven half-right – it is officially the UK’s favourite (TripAdvisor says so)!

Durham Alumni have been saying this for years, so the competition is a bit like asking your housemate a question and then googling the answer anyway, just to be sure. In celebration of winning the prestigious title, here are some things about the building that you might not know…

Benedictine Boys Only Club
Have you seen the thick black line at the back of the Cathedral? A few years before any of us were born, the Cathedral was still a Benedictine monastery and, with monks being monks, women inside were proving a distraction. The line marked the furthest point at which a lady would be allowed in – the referee foam of old, if you will. Even Queen Philippa was asked to leave in April 1333! We don’t suspect that it went down too well when her husband, King Edward III, sided with the monks on the matter either…

Don’t be rude to Ralph
St. Cuthbert used to be the only burial allowed in the Cathedral, but these rules were relaxed for a family of great benefactors called The Nevilles. If you look at the tomb of the family head, Ralph, you’ll notice nineteen figures that represent his nineteen children – with one facing the other way. It is said Ralph had a son that he didn’t really like, so ordered that his figurine face the wall. We think the naughty step would have sufficed, but each to their own…

12th Century Sass
To call a cathedral a cathedral it must have a cathedra, or bishop’s throne. One day, Bishop Hatfield sent some monks to the Vatican to measure the height of the Pope’s throne and, when they returned and gave him the measurements, ordered that his be built one inch higher. To this day, Durham’s is still the highest throne in Christendom, but we can’t wait until some Vatican members are spotted acting suspiciously and smuggling in a tape measure!

Durham blog

Are you studying in Durham, or planning to? Check out our brand new accommodation, The Clink, here.

Bout ye, Belfast!

Botanic Studios, our brand-new student accommodation in Belfast for 2017/18, is coming along very nicely – check out the latest photos of the show flat here. In the meantime, we’ve been putting together a checklist of what we’ve been recommended to do and see around the city…

Titanic Belfastthe first stop!
This impressive extravaganza of media and memorabilia occupies the space in which the Titanic was built, over one hundred years ago. We can’t wait to explore the replicas of the passenger accommodation and ride through the recreation of the city’s shipyard (apparently, it even smells authentic!). Will the “was there enough room for two on the raft” debate be solved? Probably not, but you never know.

Crumlin Road Gaoljust to lighten things up…
We’re a bit of a sucker for the supernatural, so we’ll surely be trying to get spooked by visiting one of Belfast’s grizzlier historic sites. The cramped cells of C-Wing and the chilling execution chamber make for a chastening experience; ‘The Crum’ is high on our to-do list.

St. George’s Marketvariety is the spice of life.
Built in 1896, this is Ireland’s oldest operating market, but the live music and amazing food stalls on a Saturday make it sound like more of a party than you might first expect! We’re looking forward to flowers, fish, food, homely things and second hand thriftiness whilst enjoying the furore of this Belfast bonanza.

Cathedral Quarter bar scene? Now we’re talking…
The place to see and be seen, Cathedral Quarter is home to some of the greatest establishments in the city; from traditional Irish pubs with live music to the quirkiest candle lit bars around. Special mention must be given to the Black Box venue, which always has something going on, from music to theatre to comedy to art. Basically, a guarantee of a good time!

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridgeis there a reward for crossing it or…?
Everybody knows that Ireland isn’t all about city living, so it’s time to head North and visit the Antrim Coast. Scenic coastlines and gorgeous driving routes make the journey alone worthwhile, let alone conquering the Carrick-a-Rede. It’ll be a definite movie moment when we Indiana Jones it across to the other side. There’s another way back, right?

Are you studying in Belfast this year? Take a look at our brand new, city-centre student accommodation here.

How to stay calm when you know you’re going to be stressed

Finding yourself weighed down by deadlines and cracking under the pressures of coursework? If so, you’re probably a student. Are you good at making decisions whilst under extreme amounts of stress? If not, you’re probably a human.

Exam season is crashing down on students soon, with deadlines following closely behind. You might even be suffering from some pre-stress already (feeling stressed about the stress that you know you’ll be stressed about), so what can be done to prepare? Luckily there’s a TED Talk for everything, and Daniel Levitin makes some useful points here:

By practicing prospective hindsight, the “pre-mortem”, you can prepare for the worst and protect yourself against potential disaster. Here’s what we recommend planning for in student life…

Technology tantrums
Even in 2017, if your technology is going to give up, it’s going to give up with a bang and cause as much of a scene as possible. Melodramatic Macs and limelight-loving laptops can crash on the last day of a deadline or on the eve of an exam, so make sure everything is backed up on a memory stick or stored in The Cloud. Saving regularly could save the day.

Deadline day
There aren’t many worse things than being worried about meeting a deadline – you know, when you can almost feel it hanging over you. It sounds simple, but the trick here is to start early and space things out to avoid a last-minute rush. Struggling to start is classic student procrastination (more on that here [link to previous blog]), but you’ll thank yourself in the long run.

Awkward answers
Nothing sinks your heart quicker than leaving an exam and hearing how different your classmates’ answers were to your own. A way to combat this, as well as being useful for essay writing, is discussion. Study groups, quick chats or revision sessions are great ways of keeping topics on track and confidence high. You’ll walk in feeling focused and full of the correct knowledge.

Preparation is key!

Easter Break: Netflix Bingeables

Christmas is but a distant memory, Valentine’s was some time ago now and Pancake Day has been and gone – Easter break; come on down! You’re probably going to have a mountain of work to get through; there’s likely to be a lot of people to get around and spend time with and summer plans should really be starting to get underway. At the same time though, you’ve earned this break from uni, so a lot of it will be dedicated to Netflix* – here are our top picks for the most bingeable shows for your Easter break.

*finding a lot of time being dedicated to Netflix? You might just be a procrastinator – check out our blog on that here.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
This was the show back in the day, and now it’s back in our lives! The timelessness of the jokes, the fabulous 90s fashion and the brilliance of the Banks family give this a perfect score. After all, there aren’t many other songs that you can sing along to a thousand times and never get bored of – Now this is a story all about how, my life got flipped turned upside down…
Binge Score – 5/5

Peaky Blinders
Beautifully moody, fantastically stylish and violently intriguing – possibly how you’d describe yourself, but we’re talking Peaky Blinders. Set in Birmingham during the aftermath of World War One, the show focuses on the ambitious Shelby family, headed up by Tommy (whom you will love). Gritty drama and complex characters make this a high scorer for us.
Binge score – 4/5

Planet Earth
Sometimes in life, all you really need are the dulcet tones of David Attenborough coupled with stunning shots of the most beautiful scenery in the world. There’s nothing quite like a reminder of the size and wonder of the world to take your mind off of a deadline, so Planet Earth makes the list.
Binge Score – 5/5

American Horror Story
It’s not scary scary, but it might make you think twice about the next time you hear a funny bump in the night. This show will suck you in, spook you and set you free again…before repeating the process in the next episode. Different themes and characters in each season keeps things interesting and fresh.
Binge Score – 4/5