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Life at student accommodation – Botanic Studios, Belfast

It’s time to meet one of our lovely residents again! Today we had a chat with Divya who is a resident at Botanic Studios in Belfast.

Resident at Botanic Studios Belfast student accommodation
Divya, resident at Botanic Studios Belfast student accommodation

 

We asked her all about living at Botanic Studios student accommodation and what Belfast is like for students…

Name: Divya

University: Trinity College Dublin, studying MPhil. Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation, Masters

How long have you been a resident at Botanic Studios: Since September 2018

How did you hear about Botanic Studios: I found your student accommodation online – through the Universal Student Living website

What do you like most about living at Botanic Studios: I think it would have to be the top notch security. The rooms are also lovely and for me the location is ideal as it’s equidistant from my class and Belfast city centre.

What has  been your favourite on-site event at Botanic Studios so far: The Halloween event; it was fun to dress up and goof around, and there were loads of games, free food and drink!

Resident celebrating Halloween at Botanic Studios Belfast
Divya celebrating Halloween at Botanic Studios Belfast

 

What do you do in your spare time at Botanic Studios: I occasionally study downstairs when I don’t want to walk to the library as the space is open and has great light. I also enjoy playing pool on the new table! Best buy ever!

Botanic Studios Belfast Student Accommodation
The games room at Botanic Studios Belfast student accommodation

 

What one piece of advice would you give to anyone looking for student accommodation: Botanic Studios is brilliant student accommodation, very central for Belfast, and it’s easier than living in a house and trying to find reliable flatmates. The people are friendly and helpful!

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Thank you so much Divya for taking the time out of your busy study schedule to chat to us. We wish you all the best for studies and are so happy to hear that living at Botanic Studios is making university life easier for you!

If you’re looking for the best in Belfast student accommodation, take a look at our range of  premium, contemporary studios here.


How to look after yourself this December, and stay happy and healthy

December can be a stressful time of year. On top of studying there’s extra social events, the days are colder and darker, and money can become a worry. If you are struggling this holiday season there are plenty of places to get advice or talk to someone. Check out of our top 5 ways to battle the winter blues, and stay happy and healthy all year round:

Student well being in December

1. Manage your money

Managing a tight student budget when you are taking exams and living day-to-day university life can cause a lot of anxiety for some students. But there are simple steps you can take to stay on top of your finances, especially during the festive season.

student budget money

2. Keep active

It’s easy to go into hibernation mode now that the weather is colder and the evenings are darker. However, the more active you are the better your mood, and you will be less likely to catch a cold. The NHS has these easy tips for winter exercise.

3. Cope with exam stress

The key to managing exam stress is to feel in control. With a little bit of time management and organisation you can feel more prepared and less panicky about studying and exams. Charity Student Minds has plenty of resources to help you.

4. Mental health advice

It’s easy to have a lower mood during the winter months, and some students suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). But it’s important that you reach out for help if you’re suffering from stress, anxiety, low mood or depression. Your university will offer support and guidance throughout your studies if you are experiencing any kind of mental hardship. Contact your counselling service or the charity Student Minds for advice.

student winter mental health

5. Create your own sanctuary

Transform your student accommodation into a cosy haven which is also practical for everyday student life. Take a look at these awesome storage hacks and ideas of how to style your accommodation room on a student budget.


Top 5 shopping tips for students on a budget

Black Friday is traditionally the day which follows Thanksgiving in America and is now thought of as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season across the world. Each year, big retailers use Black Friday to give massive price reductions to shoppers just before the festive season.

Black Friday shopping students

However, being shopping-savvy on a student budget isn’t just for Christmas time! Check out our top 5 tips for grabbing the best bargains all year round:

1. Food

According to Save the Students! yearly National Student Money Survey, students spend on average £108 a month on food alone – that’s more cash than you will spend on anything else apart from accommodation… so take a look at their ways to save money on food. Our favourite tips are freezing foods in portions, planning your meals and investing in a slow cooker.

Meal plan student shopping

2. Student discount

If you haven’t already, sign up for an NUS card and a UNIDAYS account which will give you access to amazing student discounts across loads of high street shops and food chains. Possibly the simplest way to save you money, ever!

3. Online shopping

Which? has listed 14 tricks to use to make sure you get what you need at the best price when shopping online, from getting voucher code alerts, signing up for newsletters and checking for cashback, all from the comfort of your student accommodation!

4. Charity shops

If you don’t mind sparing a bit of time, charity shops can be a trove for all sorts of treasures that won’t break your student budget. From high street and designer clothing, books and home wear for your accommodation, if you want a bargain and don’t mind hunting for it, get yourself to your local charity shop.

Charity shop student shopping

5. Upcycle

All it takes is a little imagination and you can create useful storage and decorative items for your student accommodation. Do your bit for the environment and take a look at these ingenious upcycling ideas. Using everyday household items or stuff you were going to throw away, they cost pennies to make and save you from having to shop.


This Stress Awareness Day stress less and enjoy your time at university to the fullest

We’re here to offer some advice and quick wins to help you manage your stress levels whilst at university.

The pressures of student life can sometimes be hard to cope with. Moving into new student accommodation, becoming familiar with university life and studying, and meeting new people is great, but it can be stressful.

Take a look at our top 5 ideas to de-stress and create a bit more Zen in your student accommodation:

1. Tidy room, tidy mind.

But how organised is your accommodation? Whether you’re a clean freak or prefer organised chaos, sparing 30 mins to clear any clutter can help reduce mental and physical stressors and increase your productivity.

Streamline your student accommodation by using simple storage solutions such as canvas boxes, baskets and file organizers. You could also use the inside of wardrobe door for a cork board or dry erase board to help organize your schedule while keeping your room walls clean and simple.

2. Limit your screen time.

If you’ve been at your university laptop studying all day, you may want to limit the amount of time you spend on your phone or tablet in the evening. The light from your screen can keep your brain busy and delay transition into sleep.

Why not try listening to an audiobook or a soothing playlist instead to help you drift off?

3. Eat healthily.

Who has the time to cook a meal from scratch every evening? No student does… but putting together an easy meal plan, cooking in batches and freezing any leftovers means you don’t have to resort to instant noodles every mealtime. Check out our top 5 student-friendly curry and baking recipes for some university grub inspiration.

4. Exercise regularly.

And this doesn’t have to be expensive or a chore! You can practice body weight exercises in your accommodation room or go for a brisk walk or jog around your local park. Exercise is essential to a balanced university life as it helps memory and cognitive function. It also improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety.

Student accommodation stress less university

5. Talk.

If university life and the pressures of studying and being a student are getting on top of you, remember there is always someone to talk to. Mental health charity Student Minds has loads of support and information and lots of universities offer counselling, student advice networks and support groups.

And remember – you’re not going through this alone. It’s likely your flatmates, classmates and friends are feeling, or have felt, the same. Asking someone if they’re OK, or reaching out for help, may seem scary but it’s the best thing to do.

For more advice click here.


Never shared a kitchen or student accommodation before?

Check out our top 5 cheap and easy curry recipes, guaranteed to impress your new flat mates!

So you’ve just moved into your student accommodation. All the kitchen essentials are unpacked and you’ve done your first food shop to stock up the fridge. But now you’re left thinking “what can I eat”?

Well, what better way to get to know your new flat mates in your accommodation by inviting them to your kitchen for a cooked-from-scratch curry this National Curry Week 22nd – 28th October?

Curries are filling, tasty, and perfect for cooking on a university student budget. You can pack them full of vegetables and protein, making them a healthy and delicious dinner.

Check out our best recipe ideas below, with price per meal, guaranteed to earn you the title of Student Master Chef at your accommodation!

1. Thai green curry.

This classic dish is so cheap and easy to make it will revolutionize your university cooking. Approximate cost (to feed four students) £8.50 = £2.12 per student

2. Prawn curry with mango chutney.

Sizzle in the kitchen this semester and enjoy this yummy curry with your flat mates. Approximate cost (to feed four students) £8.20 = £2.05 per student

Easy student accommodation recipe

3. Roasted aubergine & tomato vegan curry.

Cater for everyone in your student accommodation and serve-up this vegan treat which is super cheap and super tasty. Approximate cost (to feed four students) £5.00 = £1.25 per student

4. Korean rice curry.

This curry is the hearty comfort food that every university student needs. Approximate cost (to feed four students) £8.00 = £2.00 per student

Easy student accommodation recipe

5. Satay sweet potato vegan curry.

This delicious vegan recipe boasts two of your five-a-day and is under 400 calories! Approximate cost (to feed four students) £8.20 = £2.05 per student

And if there happens to be any left-overs after your flat mates have feasted, why not freeze them for a cheap, quick meal another day?

Being a university student has never tasted so good…


It’s time for a bake-off! Your student accommodation has never smelled so delicious…

This National Baking Week 15th – 21st October why not rustle up some scrummy treats for your flat mates in your student accommodation?

Whether you’re a budding Paul Hollywood in the kitchen, or you’re more instant noodles than choux buns, check out our top 5 cheap and easy recipes for university students with price per bake below*

Recipes:

  1. Bake fresh bread in 4 easy steps

All you need is four ingredients to bake this student-friendly scrumptious bread. Cost per slice (8 in total) = 0.62p

  1. Easy peasy apple turnovers

You know what they say; an apple turnover a day keeps the doctor away… ok maybe that’s not quite right, but this recipe is guaranteed to impress your flatmates! Cost per turnover (4 in total) = £1.90

Easy peasy apple turnover. Cheap student accommodation recipe.
Easy peasy apple turnover

 

  1. Vegan blueberry muffins

Everyone in your university student accommodation can enjoy these delicious muffins and at under 160 kcal per serving, they’re super healthy too. Cost per muffin (12 in total) = 0.64p

  1. Coconut ring cookies

Not all students are into clean-eating, but these cookies tick all the university student baking boxes; cheap, easy, healthy and tasty! Cost per cookie (13 in total) = 0.92p

  1. Tomato and olive mozzarella savoury cake

Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it; this savory cake is a taste sensation! Wow your flat mates and serve up something a bit different to normal student grub. Cost per slice (8 in total) = £1.12

Tomato and olive mozzarella savoury cake. Easy student accommodation recipe.
Tomato and olive mozzarella savoury cake

 

If you try out any of these recipes, we’d love to see your student kitchen creations. Share your photos and recipe hacks on our social media pages.

Prue Leith better watch out; students can be Star Bakers too…

 

*Price per bake is for all ingredients, meaning you should have enough to make an extra batch!


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


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.


Volunteering at Uni – is it worth it?

It is permanently drummed in to us that volunteering while at Uni is a great way to ‘boost your CV’ but does it really work or is it just a way to fill space on your CV to look more interesting to the person reading it? Well from personal experience, it has 100% helped me land the job as a graduate in the field I wanted. That said, you can’t just do any old volunteering and expect it do the trick – you need to carefully pick something that helps you demonstrate a quality you might not get to shout about though studying or part time work. So how do you find the right experience for you?

At Uni

Part time Sabbatical Officer

Ok so these are a lot less glamorous than the full time equivalents, but they can do wonders for the CV however some universities might have restrictions on who can apply for some of the posts. They range from LGBT and disabilities officers to things like Community Engagement and departmental specific positions.

Great if you are looking to shout about – management, executive work, policy or business experience

Charity Societies/RAG

Being part of a larger group can make it easier to do some volunteering, most universities have a RAG (Raise and Give) week where lots of society get involved doing all kinds of things for charity. Alternatively there are often societies for causes already established who spend the year fundraising for there cause.

Great if you are looking to shout about – humanitarian issues, fundraising, your fun side

Sports Exec

If you play a sport can level up your involvement by becoming part of the executive team that help keep the team/sport going thought the year, from being in charge of the transport for matches, organising the finances to washing the team kits there are loads of positions available and people to supply you doing it.

Great if you are looking to shout about – teamwork, leadership, time management, fitness

Media Maker

Writing for your student paper can be a great way to get in to some cool places (I once got free tickets to a launch even that give me a free 3 piece tailored suit!) and meeting cool people, it can also be a great place to express views and creativity. Lots of universities also have Radio Stations and TV stations that are great to get involved with and loads of fun, its also a great way to show how confident (and charming) you are.

Great if you are looking to shout about – writing skills, copy writing, creativity, journalism, confidence

Academic Rep/ Course Rep

Always a staple in universities these reps can help shape your course and degree. They may not be taken very seriously by students but for the right subjects they can give a good indication about your dedication to the subject you study and the industry as a whole.

Great if you are looking to shout about – dedication to your subject, team work

Not in Uni

Travel the world

If you don’t think you can spend some time every week volunteering then maybe this is the answer for you. The down side is it often costs money to get the flights and visas sorted. There are some amazing opportunities from teach children to working with fluffy (and not so fluffy) animals! Check out https://www.gap360.com/ for more info!

Great if you are looking to shout about – traveling, humanitarian issues, environmental issues, adventure

Work with the elderly/young

Mentoring is always super rewarding, be that working with children in a school to help them realise their potential or helping the older generation with anything from their weekly shopping to getting online. There maybe some red tape to get thought before you can do this – but companies, schools and charities are always looking for students to get involved.

Great if you are looking to shout about – Your kindness, humanitarian issues, teaching/mentoring, heath care

Get busy with your Hands

Help redecorate a community hall, assist in teaching a free class, get involved in local art projects. If you want to show you can do something really different from your degree – maybe you have a skill or hobby you can share with people. Check out for literally thousands of different opportunities all over the country https://do-it.org/

Great if you are looking to shout about – your great attitude, humanitarian issues, pretty much anything

Festival Volentering

Another one that doesn’t take much time, but has some pretty sweet benefits is festival volunteering. Work two days as a carpark attendant and get free entry in to the rest of the music festival. Perfect if you want to do something awesome with your time but can’t afford the £££ for a ticket to a kick ass event.

Great if you are looking to shout about – er… not sure. But its still cool!

Internship

This has become a bit of a dirty work in recent years as students (rightly so!) push back against companies who basically want free work from someone. But if you find the right one they can be great, just make sure you are getting a fair deal and the experience is worth the time. University career services can help you find the perfect internship/placement.

Great if you are looking to shout about – your knowledge, experience in the workplace, dedication

Get down with your Nerd self

Library and Museums may not sound very glamours but they can provide some of the most interesting and rewarding opportunities. From doing tours, teaching kids to read, or even learning more about local history there are some really cool things hidden in museum storage. This is guarantied to make people look twice at your CV as it fools people in to thinking you are a proper grown up! (seriously from experience this one is gold)

Great if you are looking to shout about – wider interests, local issues, humanitarian issues, how well read you are

Politics

Do you have strong political views, maybe you just feel strongly about one issue. Either way volunteering within a political party can be really rewarding and help shape the future of the country!  You don’t even have to volunteer with one party, you could help out at your local council offices.

Great if you are looking to shout about – politics, humanitarian issues, business

business people in a meeting at office

For all the infomation you could ever want on volunteering while at Uni check out 


16 reasons Hull is an amazing city!

1. White telephone boxes. Hull is sticking it to the man and fighting the BT monopoly on telecoms by having its own telephone company, Kingston Communications they also provided internet services in the area too.

 

2. Phillip Larkin wrote his poetry in the university library, and Nick Cave made a song about it.

 

3. Everything is cheap. Ridiculously cheap, you are going to feel much richer than friends that went to other Unis!

4. In Pearson Park there’s an exotic Victorian bird house and they have a giant lizard there and you can go and see it for free.

 

5. William Wilberforce, leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade, is from Hull. (That’s pretty cool in itself, but as an added bonus there’s now a fantastic pub called ‘Ye Old Black Boy’ dedicated to him.)

 

6. It’s the only place in the UK where uttering the phrase ‘I’ll meet you at the Land of Green Ginger’ actually has some basis in reality, and no-one will assume you’ve been taking something.*


7. There are still ‘Rag & Bone’ men who wander around with a horse and cart, shouting incomprehensible nonsense and collecting old fridges.

 

 

8. There’s an overnight ferry to Amsterdam.

 

 

9. It is home to the world’s most bitterly disappointing fantastic dinosaur museum and the amazing Deep -which is Known as ‘the world’s only submarium’ and it has penguins, it’s definitely worth a trip!



10. It has loads of amazing independent pubs, bars, coffee shops and clubs.


11.  Buses are amazingly cheap and frequent, you can get a bus to literally anywhere in hull in about 15 minutes, and everyone gets them.

 

12. The Welly is so awesome that one day over 1000 people queued up outside and they had to call in the riot police in to make sure it was all okay. (It was)

 

13. There are no hills. Unless you study at the Scarborough campus – in which case get your walking boots out!

 

14. It has a rich history, and is home to the last remaining civilian bomb ruin. Due to it’s industry and location, it was the second most bombed city in the UK after London, and lost about 95% of its housing.

 

15. We have a Premier League football club.

 

16. Chip spice, everyone should try it, trust us! Perfect for a post clubbing snack or any meal during the day.