Halls vs House

Last year I was living in student halls on campus for my first year of university. If you want to find out more about what my accommodation was like, check out this post. This year, I’ve moved off campus and into a student house in Norwich, which has been a very different experience! Having lived off campus for a while now, I thought it would be good to do a little comparison of the different experiences you get living on and off campus.

Friends – One of the biggest differences I noticed when moving off campus was the change of having my friends so much more spread out. In first year, so many of my friends were also living on campus, meaning no one was further than 10 mins away from me. Now, my friends are spread across Norwich, making it a lot harder to pop round and see people. I’ve found you have to be a lot more intentional in organising to meet up with friends, but a lot of my friends live in groups together so it’s nice to hang out in a house and not worry about getting in the way of their other housemates.

Living environment – Living in student halls means you get a small room to yourself which can be a bit of an adjustment when most of us are used to having a whole house to roam around. I personally really enjoyed having a space that I could make my own but it’s also easy for your room to feel a bit claustrophobic if you’re spending too much time in your flat. There’s also limitations on how far you can personalise such a small space and I think overall for living environment I prefer living off campus in a house. This year we’ve been able to really make our student house feel like a home, and it’s so nice to come home to fairy lights and bunting rather than leftover takeaway boxes.

Housemates – First year is always a bit strange because you are thrown together with complete strangers to live with for a year. This isn’t a bad thing – it’s a pretty unique opportunity to make friends with people you might never have spent time with otherwise – but it is nice to be able to live with people of your choice in year two. I’m living in a small house this year, with just three of us. It’s been so lovely to live with two of my closest friends and I’m really enjoying having a smaller house (in comparison to the flat of 12 I was in last year!)

Location -I loved living on campus because everything you needed was just a short walk away, which was SO handy. This year I live a 30 min walk away from campus, which makes a big difference in terms of getting into uni each day. Living off campus means you have to plan ahead to make sure you take everything you need for the day, and you have to wake up earlier to get to morning lectures. I live on a bus route which is super helpful, but I do miss everything being so close. Having said that, it’s nice to live closer to town, and it means I’ve got to know Norwich better, rather than being stuck in the ‘student bubble’ of campus. But overall I would say make the most of being on campus, because you’ll miss the convenience when it’s gone!

Living off campus is very different to living in halls, but they’re both really enjoyable opportunities. Overall, I think I prefer living in a house, but I definitely enjoyed staying in my university room last year, and I do miss having everything so close. There’s also a huge range of student housing in Norwich, from houses next door to campus to houses close to the city centre. We’ve signed to stay on in our house next year because it’s worked so well for us, but be aware that there’s always the chance to move house again in your third year!


Making a house a home

This year I’ve moved out of uni accommodation and into a house in Norwich. Living in a house is quite different to being on campus – living with less people means a tidier kitchen, but it’s weird not living within 5 minutes of everyone and everything on campus. One of the nice things about having a house is there’s more opportunity to decorate and personalise it than there was living in halls on campus. However this doesn’t mean you can’t personalise your uni room – check out my post on accommodation to see what my room looked like last year.

This year, I went for some similar decorations to last year in my room- a noticeboard is a really great feature for your room because you can display a lot of things without worrying about damaging the walls by using blu tack. A photo wall is also a fab way to brighten up your room and display some of your favourite memories.

I’m also a firm believer that bunting and fairy lights can make any room look better so we’ve made good use of these throughout our house. Primark is a great shop for good value fairy lights, and they can make a room look really cosy in the evenings. In my room I’ve used fairy lights around my noticeboard and door, and we also have some strung around the staircase bannister and in the fireplace.

At the moment we even have some flowers around the house which make the living room feel very homely. I’d definitely suggest buying some plants for your room, a little cactus or succulent plant won’t take much looking after and you can buy them from the plant sale held during freshers week.

There are plenty of ways to decorate your room/house that won’t cost much, a lot of things can be made rather than bought, and it’s so nice to make your room feel a little bit more like home!

10 things you need to know

September is here. That means that the start of the next academic year is almost upon us and if you’re a fresher you’re probably feeling a mix of excitement, nerves, worry and anticipation right now (which is totally normal). So as we enter the countdown of the last couple of weeks before term begins I thought it would be nice to write about some practical things you should know for life at UEA…

1. Fire Alarms – I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you’re in uni accommodation there will be a fire alarm test in the first few weeks (probably early/mid october, you will be told closer to the time the rough timing) and it will happen at about 5.30am. Just make sure you have shoes and a hoodie close by to grab, but apart from that, its just something you’ll have to experience I’m afraid!

fire alarm

2. Bus Fares – In terms of using the bus, you’ll probably be wanting to get to the city centre. Catch the 25 or 26 bus (both have the same destinations of the city centre and the station but just use slightly different routes) and ask for a young persons return to the city centre which will cost £3. The stop for the city centre is called Red Lion Street and is by Debenhams.

3. Cleaner – If you’re in uni accommodation a cleaner will come into your room to empty your bin every weekday, in my accommodation it would usually happen around 9-10am. The cleaner will knock, but then they pretty much come straight in so listen out for when you can hear them in your flat so you don’t end up having an awkward meeting. They will also lock the door when they leave regardless of whether it was locked or not when they entered, so if you’re leaving your room make sure to take your key with you. I would always leave my bin close to the door so the cleaner wouldn’t have to come all the way into my room and I know some people went as far as leaving their bin outside their door if they didn’t want to be disturbed.

4. Lecture timings – at UEA, morning lectures always start on the hour and end 10 minutes early. For example, a 9am lecture will start at 9am and end at 9.50am. Lectures after 1pm start at ten past the hour and end on the hour – a 1pm lecture will start at 1.10pm and end at 2pm. This is to allow time for staff and students to move around campus to their next lecture/seminar.

5. LCR entry – you can buy LCR tickets online through the SU website. On the door of the LCR you will need to show your campus card and ID and then you show your ticket in the foyer area. If using your phone to dispay the ticket, make sure the brightness is turned all the way up and zoom in on the barcode to make it easier for the SU workers to scan the ticket.

6. Washing – there are 3 launderettes on campus – one in the village, one on the street (centre of campus) and one by the medical centre. To use the launderette, you will need a circuit laundry card from one of the machines in the launderette. You need to load money onto it using the circuit website, activate the money using the machine in the laundrette and then the card can be used in the washing machines/tumble dryers. If I remember correctly, a wash cycle costs £2.40 and 50 mins in the tumble dryer costs £1.60.


7. Room numbering – room numbering is kinda complicated at UEA, but once you’re used to it it’s fine. On your timetable, rooms will be shown in a set format, an example being ARTS 1.05. The acronym denotes the building where the room is (this list of acronyms will be helpful). The number denotes the floor and room number. UEA has a number of different levels so the first part of the number is what level the room can be found on. 0 is ground floor, 1 is first floor, 2 is second floor etc. If its 01 it’s one floor down from ground level, 02 is two floors down and so on. Most blocks will have signs showing what floor you’re currently on, so just go down or up accordingly. The second part of the number is the room number. So for example, for ARTS 1.05, go to the Arts building, to the first floor and to room 05.

8. Post room – letters and packages will be delivered to the post room, which is under the Arts building. To check if you have any letters, show them your campus card at the desk, and let them know your name and accommodation. If you have a parcel, your name will be on a list pinned to the wall. Tell them your name is on the list, show them your campus card and sign to collect your parcel. The picture below is taken from the student handbook, and has details on what postal address you should use.

post room

9. Printer – Before coming to uni, I wasn’t sure whether I should buy a printer for my room. Some people told me it was a really good idea, while others said you didn’t need one. It’s true you don’t need a printer – stuff can be printed using the printers in the library.However, despite coming to uni without a printer, I decided to buy one after a couple of months because I thought it would be practical for me. Doing history meant I wanted to be able to print off bits of reading I accessed online, and printing notes and drafts for essays was also helpful for me. Overall, it probably depends on your subject and working style as to whether you think you need a printer. If in doubt, best to not buy one and wait for a few months to see whether you really need one.

10. Student deals – being a student means you have access to lots of fab deals. In the first few weeks be on the lookout for Dominos pizza promoters on campus, there’s the chance for lots of free slices of pizza. Another good student deal is the free 6 month student trial for Amazon Prime. This gives you access to Prime Video (films and TV shows), one-day delivery from Amazon, Prime Music and Prime Photos. I used the free trial mainly for Prime Video, which is a decent alternative to Netflix, and the one day delivery was also helpful for buying last minute essentials I realised I needed after starting uni.

So there are my 10 things you need to know! I hope you found these helpful – if you have any questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer. Also if you’re a current UEA student and have any more helpful tips feel free to write them in the comments 🙂

Uni: What to Pack

So, results day has been and gone and now leaving home to go to uni is probably starting to feel a whole lot more real than it felt before. So now you know what uni you’re off to, you can start packing! It goes without saying that packing for uni is a pretty big challenge because it means packing a lot of stuff. My best tip would be to enlist someone more organised than you to help (shout out to my mum), because it’s a lot to pack by yourself. But before you start, here’s some advice on what to pack…

Hangers – its surprising how many people forget to pack hangers for their wardrobe, what else do you expect to do with all your clothes??

Kitchen stuff – a lot of people ask me how much kitchen stuff to pack, but really it depends on you and your cooking style. For example, my flatmate loved making smoothies so she brought a blender to uni whereas I never needed to use one. If you enjoy baking, bring along a selection of baking utensils. The bottom line is bring the basics: I would say a saucepan set, a frying pan, chopping board, a good knife, at least one set of crockery and cutlery, glasses and mugs, measuring jug, baking tray, sieve and a vegetable peeler would probably give you all you need for the essentials. I’ve also been asked whether things get shared in kitchens, and again, it just depends on the people. In our flat we didn’t share kitchen stuff, but I know in some of my friend’s flats they all put their stuff in together and had communal kitchen goods. There will definitely be some things you’ll have to share – don’t worry about packing washing up liquid or you’ll have 12 bottles sitting by the sink at once.

Doorstop – in the lead up to leaving for uni, I read lots of things telling me to take a doorstop to help the flat be more sociable rather than everyone being hidden in their rooms. I have to say, it’s definitely not an essential, but it can be helpful. I did use my doorstop on the first day to keep my door open while I unpacked, but then I didn’t really ever use it again for the rest of the year. So bring a doorstop if you have one, but don’t worry to much if you don’t. (Also bear in mind the doors are firedoors and therefore pretty heavy so you’ll need a decent doorstop and they shouldn’t be left open for long periods of time)

Room decor – things like photos and cushions are a lovely way to make your room feel more homely. I found a good buy was a little plastic set of drawers for the space next to my bed to use as a bedside table. I also brought a nice throw for my bed – personally I never got too cold in my uni room but this might be something to think about for ensuring you’ll definitely be warm enough in the colder months.


Important documents – don’t forget stuff like ID and any paperwork you need for uni. You might also find it helpful to bring documents like copies of your CV in case you want to apply for a job while at uni.

Easy food – the first couple of weeks at uni are crazy busy, and you’ll still be settling in. This is why I think it’s helpful to have a decent selection of easy-to-cook meals for the first few weeks. Think frozen food and tinned food for the ultimate quick and easy options. You can worry about expanding your culinary options later, but trust me, when you first get to uni you won’t want to have to be planning and cooking difficult meals during freshers week.

Laundry stuff – when you’re no longer living at home, the bad news is you’re now in charge of washing all your own clothes. Make sure you have a decent laundry bag for transporting clothes to the laundrette, a drying rack and get a box of washing capsules because the machines don’t take powder or gel.

So that’s my best advice on what to pack (and what not to pack). If you think I’ve missed anything or if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below 🙂 Good luck with the packing!!


I’m gonna be honest, I’m no Jamie Oliver, but in my first year I’ve learnt that being at uni doesn’t mean you have to cook badly. A lot of the time, cooking and baking is somewhat limited by lack of time because there’s so much other stuff going on, but sometimes it’s great to make time and put a bit of extra effort in. I thought I’d share this delicious homemade pizza recipe that I made with my friends at uni after exams had finished.


  • 3oog flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • tomato puree
  • cheese
  • your choice of pizza toppings (we opted for pepper and sweetcorn)

Preheat the oven to 200c (if you’re using a university combi-oven, press the ‘conv’ button until 200 is displayed and then press start, the oven will beep when it’s preheated)

Step one: Make the pizza base

Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in 200ml of warm water and the olive oil.

img_5737Bring the mixture together until it forms a smooth dough. img_5744

Roll out the dough on a floured surface and transfer to an oiled baking tray. img_5778

Step two: Toppings and cooking



Cover the dough with tomato puree and cheese and then add any toppings of your choice

Put in the oven for around 15 minutes (careful the edges don’t burn like ours did!)

Cut up your pizza and enjoy!!!

Home for summer

So I’m officially home for summer and that means my first year of university is done. That’s a pretty terrifying sentence to write because it means I’m now a third of the way through my degree, and first year has flown by! It’s been an amazing year and I’ve learnt so much – I’m really excited for the next two years now!

Packing up my room was not fun – both because I really hate packing, and also I’m really sad to be leaving my uni room, I’ve loved having my own little space on campus. Taking down everything on my noticeboard and walls was a sad moment, but it was also nice to be reminded of loads of memories from first year as I packed away cards and photos.

I arrived back home last Friday morning and have been taking it really easy since then. I wasn’t very well in the last week of uni, so it was nice to be home – it’s rubbish being ill when you’re alone at uni away from family.


One last lake walk

I have some exciting things planned in summer – trips to Edinburgh, Durham, Brighton and even a bit of camping. But for these first two weeks of summer my diary is pretty empty, and I have to say I’m really enjoying it! The whole of first year, especially since Christmas, has been ridiculously busy and there’s been so much going on. It’s been great, and I’ve loved having so many opportunities and things to get involved in, but now I’m home it’s so nice to be able to relax and have lazy days. For now I’m enjoying the rarity of having no plans before September swings around and the madness begins again!

I hope you’re all having a lovely end to the uni/school year 🙂

Accommodation at UEA

One of the biggest changes starting university will bring is that many people choose to move out of home and live at university. It goes without saying then that where you’ll be living for your first year is a pretty big deal, so I thought I’d write about some of the accommodation that UEA offers, and my experience of university accommodation.

UEA has a pretty big range of accommodation (for a full list and price breakdown check out the accommodation page on the website), but the main two choices for living on campus are en-suite accommodation or shared showers and toilets in the Ziggurats. Both types of accommodation are great, so it’s really up to you based on what you feel most comfortable with. I’d recommend visiting UEA on an applicant day where you’ll get to see inside the accommodation and can decide which you’d prefer.

Both types of accommodation have their advantages. If you opt for a room in the iconic Ziggurats, you’ll get an amazing view across the lake – one of the best views on campus. Sharing a bathroom also means it’s cheaper than en-suite which is definitely something to consider.

Personally, I went for en-suite accommodation, mainly because of the convenience of having my own bathroom, although I have to say I am very jealous of the views my friends in the Ziggurats get! I’ve really loved my room at UEA, it’s very bright and a good size, and living on campus has been so practical and enjoyable.

My room comes with a desk area, wardrobe, shelves and chest of drawers. There’s also a big pin board, which I think is probably intended for academic stuff, but I’ve covered it with pictures, cards and the obligatory Dominos pizza voucher leaflet. On my walls I’ve got a Friends poster which I bought from the poster sale during freshers week, and I have lots of photos of friends from back home and memories from the summer. Printing pictures is a really great way to brighten up your uni room and make it feel a bit more homely. I also have a couple of small pot plants on my windowsill, which have done very well to survive for this long in the year because they haven’t had much water! I bought these from home, but in freshers week there was a big plant sale, so you can buy some greenery for your room then.

Living on campus has been great, there’s a really nice student-y atmosphere, and it’s been so good knowing the furthest I’ll have to walk to get anywhere on campus is 10 minutes! Next year I’ll be living in student housing in Norwich, which is really exciting, although I’ll definitely miss my lovely little uni room!

Choosing a University

If you’re applying to university this year, you’re probably at the stage of visiting lots of universities and looking towards choosing your firm and insurance choices. This is a pretty big decision to make so I decided to write about some of the things you might want to consider and tips for making the decision.

  1. Course

This might seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget about the academic side of university life when you’re visiting new cities and being swept up in campus tours which tell you all about the social life, sports facilities and societies available at a university. Remember that you’re coming to university to get a degree and you need to be comfortable with the course you’re signing up to – you’ll be paying £9000 after all!

Things to think about:

  • Entrance requirements – think carefully and honestly about whether the required grades for the course are achievable. It’s worth having an insurance choice with slightly lower grades as a backup if things don’t go to plan on results day.
  • Is it covering topics you’re interested in or seem useful? Bear in mind that the content of courses will likely vary quite a bit in different universities. If your interests are quite wide-ranging it might be worth considering a joint honours course – for example, I applied for straight History at 3 universities, but also applied for History and Religious Studies at one and History with Ancient History at another. So do some research about what different universities offer!
  • How good is the course? This can seem like a bit of a stupid question, because in one sense it’s difficult to know until you experience it, but its definitely worth looking at league tables to see how the universities ranks overall and for particular subjects. However, remember numbers can’t tell you everything, and if you can you should try and talk to students on an open day or applicant day to see what they think. At UEA, look out for the student ambassadors wearing blue tops.
  1. Location, location, location

Where a university is and what kind of university structure it is (campus, city etc) is certainly something to take into account. The best way to experience this is to go to the university, so if you can get along to an applicant or open day I would highly recommend it.

Things to think about:

  • Do you like the area? You need to feel comfortable in the location where you’ll be living for at least the next three years. This is perhaps more important if your chosen university has buildings and accommodation spread out across a city, but it’s also relevant for campus universities, because you’ll want to venture out at some point! It’s also worth looking into the accommodation after first year if your uni requires you to move out of university halls. Is there good quality student housing in a suitable location?
  • Campus vs city – there are different structures of university which you will want to take into account, do you prefer a campus style university with all the facilities and buildings in one place, or would you prefer a university in a city? This Telegraph article provides an interesting look at some of the pros and cons of both city and campus living: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/student-life/10919646/University-applications-campus-vs-city.html
  1. Facilities

Universities all have a huge range of facilities available, from accommodation to sports and academic buildings to cafes and bars. Think about what your priorities are and take into account the practical implications of the facilities.

Things to think about:

  • Accommodation: this is very important, as you will have to live in the accommodation for at least a year. Think about the quality of the accommodation and its location. Also work out whether you would prefer to be catered or self-catered and whether you’re looking for en-suite accommodation or if you’re happy to share a bathroom.
  • Practical facilities: what does the university have in the way of facilities like a medical centre, laundrette and shops? These seem boring now, but they’ll be very important to your student life!
  • What are you interested in? For example, if you’re sporty, check out the sports facilities offered. UEA has the biggest indoor sports centre in Britain, complete with an Olympic size swimming pool, so definitely check that out if you love sport! You might also be interested in media, music or art to name a few. This is where it might be useful to have a look at the range of societies the university offers.

Picking a university is a big decision, and obviously a very personal choice. Although I can’t possibly cover all the aspects you might want to consider when making your choices, I hope this post might have been helpful in some way! Below I’ve listed some links to information about UEA that might be helpful if you’re considering it as your future university:


10 weeks into the second semester can only mean one thing – Easter break! Easter break is 4 weeks long, giving plenty of time to relax with family and eat plenty of chocolate, although inevitably some work will have to be done thanks to impending deadlines and exam season…

This term I decided to stay at university for an extra week in order to try and get some work done before going home. A few of my friends were also staying for the first week of break, so we planned a few fun activities to help us through the long library sessions ahead. Being at uni without the pressures of lectures or seminars actually turned out to be really great, and meant that I could plan my own time more easily. Like the dedicated student I am, I dragged myself out of bed for a few 9am starts in the library, fuelled by copious amounts of biscuits and the lovely views of campus and the lake you get from the top floor.

Aside from work, most of my activities this week seem to have revolved around food, which I have no regrets about! Knowing you’re going home at the end of the week means you don’t really want to do much food shopping, because you’re aiming for an empty fridge before you leave. This was a great excuse to indulge all different kinds of meals, including pizza from the Student Union bar, fish and chips, a Campus Kitchen lunch and of course a classic visit to the bakery that appears in Union House on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Having no lectures meant that I had a lot more time on my hands this week which meant it was a perfect opportunity for more adventurous cooking. It’s a total myth that being at university means you can’t cook well or bake, but sometimes it can be hard to find the time, so this week was a great chance to make proper use of the kitchen! On Monday we had a pancake evening, where I tried bacon and syrup pancakes for the first time (highly recommend), along with the more traditional lemon and sugar combination and Nutella and strawberry pancakes. Then Tuesday afternoon was a chance to bake triple chocolate brownies, which then sustained me through the next morning of library work. Finally, Wednesday brought a more seasonal baking afternoon, making Easter nest cornflake cakes – so easy, but so tasty!

Staying at uni for an extra week turned out to be a great decision – I’ve had so much fun hanging out with friends, baking, and eating my body weight in chocolate/pizza/pancakes, but I’ve also got plenty of work done which will hopefully lead to a more relaxing Easter break. Now I’m off home for three weeks – it’s going to be strange not being at university but I’m also looking forward to seeing my family and not having to worry about things like cooking for myself all the time!

Hope you all have a fantastic Easter!!

My First Term at UEA

It’s halfway through the second semester of uni and it seems like a good time to reflect on the first term here at UEA. It’s hard to believe that just a few months ago I was frantically trying to pack everything I would need and worrying about if I would be able to cook for myself, and here I am, halfway through my first year, feeling like I’ve been a university student for all of my life.

Before I left home for university in September I was pretty scared – would I make friends? Would I be able to cope with the work on my course (history)? Could I survive looking after my own finances, washing and cooking?? The good news is, I’ve successfully survived the first term – I’ve made some great friends, I managed to submit my essays on time, I didn’t have to go into my overdraft and I didn’t starve. Not bad. So I thought I’d share some of my initials worries with you, and the reality of them at university.

  1. Making Friends

One of the hardest things about leaving home was leaving all my friends behind. It can be easy to feel a bit overwhelmed by not knowing anyone at university, but it’s important to remember that literally every fresher is in the same boat. This means it’s really easy to make friends, especially in the first few weeks, as everyone is really friendly and inclusive. Fresher’s week is one of the rare times in life where you can approach random people to say hi without it being a bit weird. If you’re living in halls, your flat is a ready-made set of possible friends, and then you’ll meet loads of people through your course or through any societies you join. My advice would be get involved in things you love, then you’re likely to meet people with similar interests. Don’t worry if you don’t immediately find a brilliant group of best friends – it can take a while for friendships to emerge and settle, so in the meantime, enjoy the chance to meet such a diversity of new people.

  1. Independence

Another scary aspect of university is the independence it gives you. This is great because it means freedom, but it also means organising everything for yourself. For a lot of people, university will be the first time they haven’t lived with their parents, and it can be a bit of a culture shock. But I quickly realised that all this wasn’t as scary as I expected. The joy of a campus university like UEA also means there’s facilities like laundrettes, a bank, shop, bar and medical centre just a quick walk away from where you’re living to make your life a lot easier. In terms of food, there are plenty of supermarkets nearby, and cooking doesn’t have to mean a 3 course meal! To make things easier, I had planned what meals I could cook and what ingredients they would require before going to uni, so food shopping became a lot simpler. I would also suggest buying easy to cook frozen food for the first week, because there’s so much going on you won’t want to have to worry about cooking!

  1. Work

Although you might not want to accept it, you’re not paying £9000 a year just make friends and go out – there has to be some work involved! But hopefully you’ve picked a course that you will enjoy and are interested in, and this means that work doesn’t have to be all bad! I have really enjoyed studying history at university so far, the breadth of knowledge that we’ve covered in the first term has been amazing, and it’s exciting to have lectures and seminars with leading historical researchers. However, no matter how much you enjoy your subject, you will have to work hard at whatever you study. UEA has great support available throughout your studies, such as your academic advisor, department staff or the Dean of Students. I’ve found the staff at UEA are always more than happy to help with any questions or academic struggles you have, so there’s no reason to be worried about coping with your course.


Going to university is a big step, and it’s natural to feel anxious. It’s important to
remember that everyone else is in the same situation, and probably has the same worries as you. In reality, university is not at all as intimidating or scary as you may think it sounds and your first term will be filled with exciting and unique opportunities.
My best piece of advice would be to throw yourself into student life and make the most of what UEA has to offer, but perhaps most importantly – enjoy yourself!!