So you’ve been away from home for a little bit now, your year in halls has got you feeling like you can conquer anything, but have you really been as independent as you’d like to think? How many times has someone had to help you when you’ve locked yourself out of your room? How many times did your messy pre drinks miraculously disappear by morning? And if you were lucky enough to have lived in catered halls, are you really ready for a life of providing for yourself? Not to worry you though. If I can make it on my own, then you definitely can. Here are my top tips for surviving your first year in your own student house.

Be organised

It helps to get the boring paperwork out of the way early so you can start actually enjoying your new home. Make sure you have looked over and signed your tenancy agreement, paid your first month’s rent and set up a standing order. You will also need to make an appointment to collect your keys from your estate agent. To do this, you’ll need proof of your right to rent in UK so make sure you have your passport handy. If you drive at uni it’s also worth checking if you need a permit to park on your street. In Newcastle at least, most of Jesmond requires a permit which you can acquire here.

Set up utilities

Your landlord or estate agent should have let the utility companies know that new tenants are moving in but you will still need to create an account with these companies to pay your bills. Make sure you find out who provides your gas and electricity and come up with a system to split the bills when they arrive. One option is for you to create a bank account which you all pay in to. Alternatively, one person could pay the bills and then everyone repay them, or you could use a service such as Glide to arrange a package for you. Make sure you know where your meters are as you’ll need them throughout the year.


Inventory and Deposit

You will be provided with an inventory for the house which you will be required to complete and return to your agent. It’s really important to note down anything wrong with the property (and keep a copy) as this will be used as reference at the end of your contract to determine any damage you may have caused and the return of your deposit. This deposit should be held under the Deposit Protection Scheme so you should have been provided with details of this. If not, be sure to contact your agent as this is vital in ensuring you are treated fairly come the end of the year.

Devise a cleaning rota

As annoying as it was to have Brenda the cleaning lady screaming at us at 7am after a night out, having the bins magically empty themselves once a weeks was pretty handy. Now with no Brenda and a hell of a lot of mess, it’s best to establish a cleaning rota early to avoid any fights that can stem from people not pulling their weight. Chances are you won’t stick to it after week two, but hey, you tried.

Introduce yourselves to the neighbours

Even the most considerate students can be known to make a little bit of noise but locals really appreciate the effort of new students introducing themselves and you’ll often reap the benefits through the year. One of my elderly neighbours threw countless dinner parties with guests who hadn’t figured out her dislike of white wine and, long story short, the “lovely girl across the street” acquired a fairly steady stream of vino. I’m not guaranteeing such fortune but you never know what you’ll get from a little politeness.

Don’t let house issues ruin friendships

For the first time you’ve been allowed to choose who you want to live with but that doesn’t mean petty arguments and personality clashes won’t appear. There will be an overly messy one (sorry, that’s me), there will be an obsessive clean freak, there will be people who were given different levels of responsibility at home so will respond to the new situation in different ways. Try to be as considerate as possible and do your best to address the problems other people bring up and hopefully they will do the same for you. If all else fails, then distance these issues from your friendship as that’s way more important than some literal spilt milk.

I hope these tips have been helpful and that you enjoy your years as a student as much as I have! Any other tips? Comment below!

Katie x


This post is in partnership with Easiliving. Looking for a student house in Newcastle? Take a look at their extensive range online now.

Now I love a festival, probably more than most people. The music, the food, the friends, the laughing at others who completely disregard normal standards of behaviour. But what’s the best way to improve a festival? Turn it into a holiday! So with festival season in full swing, here are 6 of the best festivals around the world that are worth the camping and greasy hair.

Glastonbury, Great Britain

Based on the premise of community and sustainability, Britain’s biggest festival still has the power to compete on the global festival scene. With 1000 acres of ridiculously well designed farm, you can find everything from chart topping acts to dance lessons to pottery classes. Glastonbury is definitely more than just the music and with an incredibly varied program, you can truly find something for all ages and tastes. Don’t miss a late night party in the infamous Shangri La and be sure to fully explore the sight to discover hidden treasures such as the samba bus and the forgotten forest. You’ll have to be on the ball to get tickets though as it’s known to sell out within minutes. Good luck!

Coachella, USA

Located in the California desert, Coachella is a festival Mecca where it’s almost against the law to be without a flower headband and glitter. Spread across two weekends in April, you definitely won’t need to pack your wellies as you brush shoulders with countless celebrities as the rest of us scroll through the endless Instagram posts, filled with envy. Combining the hottest music stars with up and coming acts and art installations, Coachella is perfect for those who want to kick back and relax whilst experiencing the buzz of one of the world’s biggest festivals.

Tomorrowland, Belgium

Every year thousands of people from all over the world descend on the small town of Boom in Belgium for a celebration of electronic music that’s like nothing else you can imagine. The world’s best DJs provide the entertainment at Tomorowland, along with incredible sets and stages, until the early hours of the morning. Whilst it’s very likely that you won’t sleep all weekend, it is definitely an experience not to be missed.

Fuji Rock, Japan

Set in the stunning Japanese mountains, there’s always something new to be found at Fuji Rock. With remote, quirky stages hidden around the site, you may need to hike or take a gondola to reach some of the entertainment. They hit a perfect balance of huge westerns acts and eastern favourites to give an authentic experience where you can get a taste of Japanese culture whilst still being able to find something to sing along to.

Sziget, Hungary

Sziget, in the Hungarian capital of Budapest, takes over a whole island in the middle of the Danube for a full week of music, art, performance and fun. The self-named “island of freedom” also features a beach for those who like to sweat off a hangover and is an easy train ride back into the city. With music only starting at 3pm, the morning gives you plenty of time to explore the quirky city. I’d highly recommend a trip to the world famous bath houses, both for the cultural experience and availability of adequate cleaning facilities. You’ll really need it.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 12.33.20

Rock in Rio, Brazil

A city famous for carnival is sure to put on a pretty special festival, and Rock in Rio does just that.It claims to be the world’s biggest music festival after branching out to include locations in Las Vegas and Lisbon. Unlike many festivals, the actual headliners continue into the early hours of the morning, for those who really fancy seeing Rod Stewart at 2am (no, really), but they are supported by a wide variety of DJs and dance acts if that’s more your style.

What’s your favourite festival? Let me know below!

Katie x

The Basics

IAmsterdam

Where: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Currency: Euro

Language: Dutch but English is widely spoken

Climate: Cold season is November to March with high season June to September with very little extreme weather

What to Do

  • Museums: Amsterdam is famous for its museums and with over 60 to choose from, you’ll be able to find something for everyone. The Van Gogh museum houses an impressive collection of works you will have seen in a school text book whilst the Sex Museum provides an option for those with, err, less refined taste. The museum square is also home to one of the famous I Amsterdam signs and a huge paddling pool to cool off in.
  • VondelparkGrab a picnic and head to this beautiful park if the weather is good. It’ll probably be packed and you’ll soon find out little clothing Europeans wear but it’s a great place to people watch.
  • Anne Frank’s House: Visit the actual house where the Frank family hid during World War 2 and learn about their experience. There’s even a real Oscar statue in there. I’m not sure why, but there is.
  • Rent Bikes: Many locals use bikes to get around but if you want a more relaxing ride, stick to quite streets and parks to get a real feel for the city.

Amsterdam

  • Coffee Shops and The Red Light District: Whilst this stereotypical side of Amsterdam isn’t really my thing, it is a unique experience to walk through the district. Brace yourself, and don’t expect to meet the love of your life down there.
  • Canal Cruise: There are so many different options if you fancy getting on the water. From large, packed cruises to private boats, there’s something for every price range and it really lets you see Amsterdam from a different perspective.
  • Artis Zoo: I can’t resist a zoo and I’ve been to quite a few in my time but this one did not disappoint. There’s even a planetarium and aquarium on the grounds.

Amsterdam

Where to Stay

Budget

  • There are a wide range of city centre hostels available in Amsterdam but be sure to book early as the best ones are known to fill up fast. Shelter City has been voted Amsterdam’s favourite hostel whilst Bob’s Youth Hostel promises to bring the party with a bar boasting the cheapest beer in A-dam.
  • Because of the city’s great transport links, airport hotels are a good option for those looking to avoid packed dorms. The cheapest option is the Ibis Budget which offers basic rooms for as little as €60 a night. Be sure to buy a travel pass though as you’ll need to get into town.

AMSTERDAM

Splurge

  • Lloyd Hotel: This unique hotel is about a 15 minute tram ride out of the city but it’s perfect for those who want to be surprised. The rooms at Lloyd Hotel range from 1 to 5 stars, with the most luxurious boasting a bed big enough to fit 7. That sounds like there’ll be plenty of covers to steal. It also a cultural embassy but I honestly have no idea what that means.
  • The Toren: TripAdvisor’s number one hotel in Amsterdam, The Toren is a small, trendy hotel in Amsterdam’s heart. Be warned that the decor could be described as excessive but the service is second to none.

Top Tips

  • If you’re staying out of the city or plan on travelling around a lot, buy a multi-day unlimited travel pass. It’s cheaper and eliminates the need to waste time buying a ticket on every tram. Simply scan in and out on every mode of transport and you’ll successfully avoid the judging glares of agitated locals.
  • For the museums and Anne Frank’s house, buy tickets online and get there early. The queues can be HUGE and you really don’t want to be wasting your day waiting around.

Amsterdam

 

  • If you’re looking for a chilled night out or a few drinks in a nice bar, avoid the red light district. As much as it’s great to see for a few minutes, at night it can turn into a seedy, Magaluf style party town which really ruins your quiet drinks.
  • If you’re planning on heading to a lot of the attractions then look at buying an I Amsterdam card which can save you money on multiple attraction tickets.

Hope you’ve found this guide helpful and that you have the best time in Amsterdam! I know I did!

Katie x


Thinking of going to Amsterdam? Let me plan your trip!

amsterdamad

Everyone loves a fancy meal and a graduation dinner is the perfect excuse to dress up and splash out (especially if your parents are paying). But after living on such a budget for three years, it can be hard to know where to eat outside of Eat4Less and Wetherspoons. Don’t fret though as here are a few great options for the big day.

Silk Room

The Silk Room restaurant is a graduation staple, and every year they put together a special graduation menu, offering 3 courses for under £30. Although the choice is limited (think meat, fish or vegetarian), it’s great value for money considering the quality of the restaurant. Silk Room also houses a champagne bar so there really is no better place for a celebration.

The Botanist

botanist
The Botanist is a go-to for any occasion and graduation dinner is no different. Whilst the food here is good quality and reasonably priced, it is eclipsed by the true stars of the show, the extensive cocktail menu and stunning views of the city. Request a table by the window or head up to the rooftop terrace to add some real atmosphere to your night (although it may be ruined because every person on your course will probably be in here).

Viva Brazil

Viva Brazil is my personal favourite and is great for families that are looking for something a little different. Take your seat and wait for the servers to bring 14 different cuts of barbecued meat to your table. Whilst they do have a vegetarian option, I would definitely only recommend this place to meat lovers (unless you want to pay £15 for some salad and bread). They even offer 2 for 1 cocktails before 8pm if you fancy a drink with dinner.

Pleased To Meet You

Another cocktail bar with an often overlooked food menu, PTMY has a huge range of gin based drinks as well as a swanky new restaurant area. Head down early to catch the 2 for £10 cocktail happy hour then stay to sample their classic British cuisine.

Longhorns

longhorns

Instagram: @longhornsbbq

Whilst Longhorns may not scream “special occasion”, it’s a great option if you’re looking to stay in Jesmond for the evening. Whilst it may not be luxurious, the atmosphere is great and you really can’t beat piles of barbecued meat on a tray. If you’re there between Thursday and Sunday, head downstairs to the secret speakeasy and grab a drink or two from their highly talented cocktail artists.

Wherever you chose to go, or if you’re just going to get a takeaway, have a great graduation and congratulations on your degree!

Katie x


This post is in partnership with Easiliving. If you’re looking for somewhere to live after graduation, they after a great range of affordable professional lets.

Although the current weather is less than ideal, it is June, so it’s perfectly reasonable to expect some sun very soon and Newcastle has some great places to relax and catch a few rays. Whether you have a spare hour or a full day, here are some of my favourites to explore.

The Best Beach: Tynemouth

The beach may seem like an obvious when it comes to sunny day activities but that’s no reason to overlook the gorgeous seaside town. Grab some fish and chips at Longsands Fish Kitchen and take a walk along the sand, or, if you’re like me and really prefer to not find sand in your shoes for weeks, then take a seat up at the prior to enjoy your food sand-free. If you want to make more of a day of it, there are loads of really nice pubs to try when the sun starts to disappear. Many of them even have live music nights and pub quizzes to keep you entertained.

tynemouth

The Best Park: Jesmond Dene

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Jesmond Dene is the perfect place to relax in the sun. Take a BBQ, a frisbee and a rounders set to really make the most of the day or just stop by for a quick walk on your lunch break. It’s so big that whilst most parks fill up on sunny days, you’ll always find a spot here, although maybe not one big enough for that game of rounders. Even if the weather doesn’t improve everyone should take a trip to the Dene petting zoo because any weather is perfect for cuddling bunnies.

The Best Bars: The Quayside

The Quayside is probably not the place you’d choose for a day in the sun but you can’t beat it if you have some spare time to kill. The bars here are a winner in summer due to the abundance of outdoor seating, overlooking everyone’s favourite bridges. There’s a surprisingly upmarket Wetherspoons for those on a budget whilst Pitcher and Piano is great for anyone wanting to splash the cash. Also, if you’re craving a beach but don’t have time to make it the coast then you can even enjoy the Quayside Seaside, all the irritating parts of the beach with none of the actual fun, what more could you want?

Where are your favourite summer spots? Let me know below!

Katie x


This post is in partnership with Easiliving. They offer affordable, quality housing in the Newcastle area, allowing you to really enjoy this amazing city.