For most of you, moving into student halls will probably mark your first new bedroom away from the family home. For me, a token timid southerner dropped in this foreign land where people say ‘Baff’ instead of Bath, Breadcake instead of Bread Roll and seem to have ‘dinner’ at lunchtime, it was a little intimidating starting completely afresh, so it was vital that I had a bedroom where I felt comfortable. With a bit of creativity, your new student room can be a reflection of your new independent personality, without breaking the bank.
Let’s be more imaginative than a scantily clad Cheryl Cole/Channing Tatum or the ever clichéd Che Guevera/Mixology hybrid. Just because you’re a student, doesn’t mean you can’t have a little class. How about a collage of some of your favourite photos from home, a beach scene or some abstract art? Look out for the poster sale in Freshers week, which has a great selection, prices starting at just £3. When I moved to Uni in my first year, my lovely friends from home made me this great collage out of our antics as a leaving gift, and it kept me company all year. Plus, it didn’t cost me a penny. Just don’t forget the white tack, because first-hand experience tells me that blu tack is a nightmare to get off and may even result in you losing some of your deposit. Which certainly wouldn’t be part of your budget.
Covering a bed in cushions is a great and cheap way to jazz up a plainer bedspread and give you something to cuddle up to if homesickness does kick in. Many fabric websites offer free fabric samples to sew with if you’re feeling crafty, or else Wilkinson’s and Primark do a great line in cheap cushion inners and covers. I made this owl cushion out of free fabric samples from Terry’s Fabrics and Laura Ashley (amongst others), using a simple hand stitch, some cheap toy stuffing from the local market and a bit of patience. Pretty similar to the popular version they sell in Urban Outfitters, but with a far less punishing price tag. See below for a tutorial on cushion customization from my first year flatmate, fashion and textiles student Charlotte Hanson, who taught me everything I know (cheque’s in the post).
For the stuff you can’t get free samples of, it’s worth having a good browse online. Supermarkets like Asda and Tesco Direct tend to accommodate the student market best, often reducing basic items like bedding and cookware in the academic months, so it’s worth keeping an eye on their online offers. Stores like Home Bargains, Matalan and Dunelms are also worth a rummage – two pillows and a double duvet from Matalan cost me just £13 this September. Don’t dismiss places closer to home either – I got this green polka dot double duvet from Yorkshire Linen right in Huddersfield town for £13.00 again, almost half the price of the very same item in more famous high street stores.
When you’re moving out for the first time, there are a lot of simple, boring things to be bought, and it can get pretty expensive. Whilst there is no shame in buying low cost basics, you can still personalise them to look a bit more interesting. An old copy of NME or Cosmo, some PVA and a bit of imagination can turn a basic flat pack box from a supermarket into something more eye catching and durable, and a godsend if storage in your halls is a little on the thin side. Get imaginative! A plain shower curtain in a bright colour will make a claustrophobic ensuite look a bit more inviting, as will a throw over a desk chair, a cheap rug or even some jazzy stationary to help you get going with that dreaded assignment. Hobbycraft’s website has a great section of craft tutorials, as do my favourite blogspots, http://ninasapartment.blogspot.co.uk and http://crafterholic.blogspot.co.uk/
Get snap happy
Photo’s not just of home, but of your experiences over the year too. Call me a sentimental sap, but covering my pinboard in flyers from nights out and gig tickets reminded me of all the new memories I was making on top of pictures of my old friends from home. Mix them all up and you’ll soon realise that there doesn’t have to be a divide between your old and new life. Websites like Snapfish and Kizoa offer printing discounts to first time account users. Plus, when you’re old, have your degree and Camel Wednesdays are nothing but a distant memory, you can gaze fondly at the picture of you holding your mate’s hair back as she spews into the gutter after one too many jagerbombs. Priceless.