Category Archives: Edinburgh

The Student Channel, Edinburgh

Meeting people and making friends at university


The pressure during the first couple of weeks of uni to instantly make loads of friends can be intense. Freshers’ may be over, but that doesn’t mean your window for meeting people is closed. Think about it – how many people can make friends for life in a week? But if you’re struggling and not sure how to go about connecting with people, here are a few pointers from somebody who’s been there.

1)    Join a society

Even if you don’t have a hobby and even if you can’t see a society that you particularly want to be a part of! It’s free (usually) and a really easy way to meet new people. If you’re having trouble getting on with your flatmates or meeting people on your course, why not join several? You can always leave later, and still hang on to your new-found friends.

2)    Talk to people

Wherever and whenever possible, find a reason to strike up a conversation. A simple “hello” when passing someone you recognise in halls, “have you done the reading?” to the person next to you in a seminar, “what are you making?” to someone in your flat or shared kitchen… the possibilities are endless. Don’t wait for other people to come to you – if you seek out opportunities yourself you’ll make friends so much more easily. Or why not take advantage of Dutch courage and introduce yourself to the person next to you at the bar? In the first couple of weeks everyone is very open and friendly – the chances of embarrassment really are minimal.

3)    Keep your bedroom door open

It may seem obvious but wedging your door open during the first few days is the perfect zero-effort way to meet people. The super-confident types who are wandering around meeting people are bound to put their head round an open door – you’re essentially inviting people to come in and talk to you.

4)    Fake it ‘til you make it

It’s a well-known theory, and completely applicable here. If you’re naturally quite shy and reserved meeting people can seem like an uphill struggle. But university is a fresh start – no-one here knows that you’re not chatty, outgoing and oozing with confidence! So why not pretend? It might seem scary at first, but your fake confidence will help you make connections with people, which will boost your confidence, which will help you make even more connections, and hey presto! you’ve got yourself a nice group of mates.

5)    Use props

Taking along fun, interesting items is a great idea. Think shot glasses, shisha pipes, games, packs of cards, or even just a Frisbee. If you can propose activities that people want to be a part of, you’re already getting a headstart.

6)    Facebook

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that you add people you don’t know (although that would work too!). You can, however, use Facebook to your advantage. Met someone new and caught their name? Add them on Facebook. Noticed your flatmate is now friends with that girl you met in your first lecture? Add her as a friend too. It’s called social networking for a reason – it’s a great way of expanding your network of acquaintances and cultivating new relationships. If you’re really struggling to pluck up the courage to talk to people, why not reach out from behind the safety of your computer screen? Add a coursemate and message them about this week’s assignment. Comment on group photos with you in. Find out which events the people you know are going to, and go along with them. And all without leaving your bedroom.

7)    Eat with people

This is a really easy way to get talking to your flatmates or the other people on your corridor. Try to time your meals so that there are other people around cooking too, and eat at the table rather than taking your food back to your room. The same thing goes for catered halls – try to arrange to go down to dinner together instead of alone.

But most importantly of all, relax! Seriously. It might seem like you’re the last person on campus not to have made friends yet, or you might feel you’re stuck with a group of people you don’t feel very strongly about, but you’d be surprised how much things continue to change over the first couple of months or even the whole year. It’s not too late to reach out to people – remember that everybody is in the same boat, and other people are just as keen to meet you as you are them. How many times in your life will you be in a situation where thousands of people are actively trying to be your friend? Make the most of it.

Written by Lucy, Bristol.

What (and what not) to take to uni

Moving to university is a scary time and a brief Google search will throw up a huge amount of conflicting advice on what you ought to take with you. With this in mind, rather than an exhaustive list of absolutely everything you will need (and definitely won’t), this article aims to point out a few things that you might not have thought of when packing your bag.

The top 5 things I wish I had brought to uni:

1. Posters, photos and knick-knacks.

Anything that will personalise your room and make it feel more homely is a must! The more settled you feel in your own space, the more quickly you’ll settle into your new life. There’s no need to panic if your room is looking a little bare, though: most universities run a poster sale in freshers’ week.

2. Fancy dress.

Like it or not, you can bet that within your first ten days at uni you’ll need at least two different costumes! There’s no need to go overboard, but anything you have lying around which could make a good army, school disco, or cowboys and Indians costume is definitely worth throwing in your bag.

3. One of: a bottle opener, a tin opener, and a cheese grater.

These three are often overlooked in the pre-uni Ikea frenzy, and it’s not uncommon to arrive in halls and find that your kitchen has 25 plates, 10 saucepans, 2 toastie makers and no corkscrew.

4. Playing cards.

Essential for drinking games. If you can get waterproof ones, even better!

5. Tea towels.

With a good 6-10 people sharing a kitchen, you can never have too many tea towels – especially since no-one will ever volunteer to wash them.

And now, the things you really don’t need:

1. Everything you own.

Rooms in halls are generally very small, and there won’t be space for you to store all your childhood teddies/40 pairs of shoes/GCSE coursework. Remember that a term is only 10-12 weeks long – how much stuff do you really need?

2. Extra furniture.

Your room will have furniture in that is designed to make the best possible use of the limited space. Anything extra will only get in the way!

3. Your own kettle/toaster/fridge.

All of these are provided as standard by the university if you’re in self-catered halls (and sometimes even if you aren’t) – not only will they take up precious space in your room but they’ll waste energy too. Also, do you really want to be the flatmate who hides all their food in their room?

4. In the same vein, you really don’t need an egg poacher/deep fat fryer/blender/apple corer.

Chances are you only occasionally use these things at home, and they’ll just sit in a drawer gathering dust.

5. Your hamster/rabbit/fish.

Not only because pets are against the rules, but also because halls just aren’t a good place for animals to live – they’re cramped, noisy and dirty.

Whilst it’s important to be prepared in order to get the best out of your first weeks at uni, there’s no need to get overly stressed about it. Forgetting to bring a frying pan or your favourite poster is not going to have much of an effect on how well you settle in. So think carefully about what you want to pack, but most importantly relax and enjoy yourself – you’re about to embark on the best years of your life!

Written by Lucy, Bristol

Moving on Up…

Ah, the dreaded flat move. We’ve all been through it, collapsing into the mouldy sofa you’ve single-handedly lugged through the Meadows and up three flights of stairs. While there’s no way of avoiding bruised shins and back ache there are some tricks that can ease the pain of moving.

1. Organise

Plan the shit out of it. Know when your lease ends and when your new one begins. Far too many of my chums have failed to synchronise their dates and but for some accommodating friends they would be homeless hoarders drowning in suitcases bin bags and boxes. Flat hunting in Edinburgh is notoriously ruthless, as landlords and estate agents (the bastards) try to arrange your lease in such a way that it is not available in August. You can’t blame them really, the sheer economics of that month is heaven. The population rises to threefold that of the rest of the academic year, the city swarms with tourists all more than willing to part with their cash and pay top dollar for any old flat. If you can’t arrange your lease dates to overlap or at least merge then make sure you have a place to crash, otherwise you might just find yourself asking for spare change on Nicolson Street (and probably procuring a dog in the process).

2. Clean

Clean your flat. This is the only way of getting some of your deposit returned. Let’s face it, you probably won’t get your full deposit back. You can sure as hell make sure that you will next time though. Take photographs of every decrepit crevice in your new flat and upload them to an image hosting site or e-mail them to your new landlord as soon as you move in. As for your current place…

How to cheat at cleaning:

  • Polish anything shiny, estate agents are like magpies and will be distracted by sparkly things. This means Brasso & Window Cleaner are actual investments.
  • Leave the windows open for a few days before move day, students produce and odour that repulses adults, and bullshit you never smoked in that flat, you’re not kidding anyone.
  • Coca Cola will lift most burnt food from pots and pans
  • When removing your Che Guevara or Reservoir Dogs poster (don’t deny it, you unimaginative looser) heat up some straighteners or iron and put it against the spot where the blutac is underneath before you tear it off. This will take the blutac off the wall whilst leaving the paint.
  • Limescale in the kettle – the water in the ‘Brugh ain’t that hard but in certain places you might need to fill your kettle with white vinegar and boil, this should do the trick.
  • Paint over stains you can’t be bothered cleaning, but do so well in advance – the smell is conspicuous.
  • Put baking soda on your carpet before you go to bed and then hoover the next day, save on Vanish Carpet Shampoo (because apparently upholstery is worth it too)
  • Play music while you clean, I find Chaka Khan tremendously motivating
  • Promise friends beer if they help you.
  • Get your mum to help. A friend in Marchmont got her FULL deposit back thanks to the meticulous helping hands of her mother.

3. Throw Stuff Out

You don’t need all that stuff, all those club night posters and first year text books have to go. Sell what you can and dump the rest. Far too many people end up hoarding a small empire by fourth year, making every move more and more awkward. Guys, that collection of beer bottles is impressive and all but it smells super nasty. Ladies, I know you love shoes but pumps in a rainy city have a shelf life, when you find them crispy and having to keep them outside the window it’s time to let go…. you can do it. If you’re moving as a whole flat, find a friend with a car and go to a car boot sale, there’s one every Sunday in the car park of the Omni Centre by St. James’. Alternatively, put all bulky things up online a few weeks before. Have other fools take on your crap and  make some cash.

4. Logistics

The actual move is going to be painful regardless of how you do it. Give yourself a whole day and just get it over and done with. If you have a car/mate with a car them boom, you’re pretty much sorted. Getting everything up and down stairs is hell but there’s nothing you can do about it. If you’re only a short journey away you could get a cab, but when you call make sure you tell them that it’s a moving job, how many suitcases etc, they’ll send someone out who won’t be cranky about it. If you happen to have breasts don’t be afraid to use them to get some help, cabbies are a simple breed, putty in the hands of a damsel in distress. For larger jobs of furniture and the like there is the Man with the Van. There are plenty online and in the Yellow Pages (old school retro hipster points), don’t be afraid to negotiate, the given rate can always be lowered. Shop around, get a few quotes from the larger companies, then offer a reasonable price to some others.

5. Inventory

Scrutinise every last detail of the list. Any omissions, regardless of how petty they may seem will come back to haunt you. There’s no point in trying to argue with Grant management and the like saying “but it was like that when I got here”, you don’t have a chance.  They will make you pay for any breakages, stains, missing items, superfluous items, cracks and scratches. Make sure everything that they say is on the list is actually in the flat. Note any additional details and DO NOT SIGN until they have acknowledged your changes. Check that every appliance functions, not just by turning them on, but by using them. Check the temperature of the fridge, make sure the cooker works, boil the kettle etc. Make sure the windows are clean, if not let them know. You won’t be expected to clean/fix anything that was dirty/broken when you moved in, as long as you let them know in writing, prior to signing the inventory. There are certain arbitrary things that you only really notice around a month after you’ve settled. Be sure to look out for ridiculous things before you sign, things like drains, fill the sinks and see how long it takes for them to empty. Blocked drains are annoying and smell, you don’t want to get trench foot for the shower. Tell your estate agent to get it fixed.

6. Admin

You might not get that much post as a student, but plenty of people and organisations need to know where you live. You can get this service from the Post Office, but you will have to pay a fee. Alternatively, call/email everyone you need to and inform them of the changes. So who needs to know?
  • Uni
  • Student health centre
  • Virgin Media / Sky etc…
  • Your Bank
  • Memberships – movie rental, gym, chess club
  • Subscriptions
  • Your JustEat.co.uk account
  • Your mother

7. Furnishing

If your new flat needs some more junk (which it probably doesn’t you’re just excited about a new opportunity to hoard stuff) there are cheap ways to do this.
  • Ikea is not as cheap as you think it is. Have a look through the catalogue on online before you go, only get the stuff that you need.
  • Poundland is great for smaller goods that you didn’t’ realise you needed
  • The bargain stores on Nicholson Street are full of cheap products, most of which are reasonably good quality. They have a decent range of decorative items that you can pick up for peanuts, they might not be John Lewis but you’re a student anyway.
  • Every now and then there is a poster sale in Teviot/Potterow, you’ll find all the usual generic stereotypical posters here, they’re cheap, and cover any holes in the walls.
  • Freecycle is a great shout for random stuff, from sofas to coffee machines to freeview boxes. You’ll have to pick it up but it’s all free.
  • Gumtree has probably the largest selection of everything you need for your new flat. They have a freebies section but if you’re willing to part with your cash you can get some investment pieces. You’ll also find any jobs in your new area.
  • Morningside boasts at least seven thousand charity shops on one street, as does Forest Road, Nicolson street and some in Newington. They’re a good spot to find random stuff and will fill you with inspiration for your new place whilst warming your soul with goodness.

Best of luck with moving house, it’s tedious and time consuming but has to be done eventually. At the very least you have one thing to look forward to. After the skin on your hands start to peel off with cleaning products, and you’ve reminisced the past looking at old photographs from the box under your bed, you will settle in. All that is left to be done is have a house warming…

Thanks to the best house mates ever for an amazing year x

Written by Special_K, University of Edinburgh

J.K. Rowling Never Wrote Here…

Artisan Roast, 57 Broughton Street

I like to watch people in coffee shops, I find them enthralling. Normal people don’t seem to care too much about coffee, which generally speaking leads to an abundance of crazy folk getting their proverbial freak on about the place – highly entertaining. First comes Coffee-Shop-Girl. Everything is in place; old school iPod with Sennheiser headphones strewn across the table, paper pack of Lucky Strike complete with some South East Asian health warning tossed casually next her Burts Bees lip balm. When she isn’t chewing her pencil she is jotting notes in the margin of her weathered copy of Kafka (but of course), or twirling it in her tumbling curls. And the scarf, oh! the scarf. Silk hand woven, Bolivian masterpiece no doubt, encapsulating every shade of green. It billows around her delicate neck. She sips from her cup, quietly savouring what is undoubtedly the best coffee in town.

I think I have a crush on this girl, on everything she represents. Chilled, intellectual, beautiful, she is everything I want to be. She is not just some ordinary girl in a coffee shop, she is Coffee-Shop-Girl.

This is no ordinary coffee shop either, oh no. Artisan Roast, nestled in the centre of the Pink Triangle, is the supplier of premium fresh-roasted coffees to Scotland. Their bijou café on Broughton Street boasts a wide range of speciality teas, coffees and coco, all carefully prepared to make you all warm and fuzzy inside. The venue in itself is just perfect. There is no bar separating you from the barista, who is an old friend, and you; a guest in his kitchen. Watch the world go by on the high tops by window, read books about coffee from the shelf by the door, smoke outside on bar stools, or creep in the mooch lit by cafetiére lamps. You will find yourself spending hours here, time becomes arbitrary, coffee becomes heroin.

Artisan Roast is the best coffee shop in Edinburgh. Fact.

  • Kilimanjaro – too busy.
  • Wellington – too small.
  • Peters Yard – too Scandinavian, takes too long.
  • Forest – too cool for school, there’s only so many hipsters you can deal with in one day.
  • Loopy Lorna’s – too many Ladies who Lunch.
  • Urban Angel – too bad the staff are horrid.
  • Black Medicine – “WHO ORDERED THE FLAT WHITE??”
  • Police Box – How can they call that putrid mess coffee?
  • Elephant House – too much creeping on J.K, I mean, CCTV? really?

As for Starbucks……  -oh, don’t get me started………

Starbucks is spreading across the world like a virus, infecting cultures with their homogenised formulas of what a coffee shop ‘should be’.  Tainting JuJu with their predatory business practices and faux environmental/corporate responsibility not to mention viscously competitive attacks on small cafés; Starbucks still lure people in, day after day. Also, the coffee is repulsive.

A refreshing reminder in Artisan Roast

If anyone thinks they know of a superior coffee shop in Edinburgh feel free to buy me a Long Black- no sugar and I might reconsider.

 After getting over the departure of Coffee-Shop-girl (*whimper) in comes Eco-Warrior. I shit you not this guy was wearing bio-degradable flip-flops and it is pissing rain. He asks Niall about the most appropriate blend for his machine, but he might as well be asking which course of medical treatment would give his only son a better chance of survival. He is THAT passionate about coffee. Niall, the coffee aficionado, soothes his qualms with the perfect roast, and with his purchases safe from the downpour in his 100% Hemp man-bag, off he goes (probably to protest outside Starbucks).

Niall & Tod know their shit. When Little-Miss-Soccer-Mom approaches the counter to complain about the temperature of her soya milk latte, she is instantly given a concise breakdown of the nature of her dairy alternative and just how detrimental the result would be if they were to scald it as she desires. Ego bruised by the baristas charm and intellect she returns to her perch, no doubt thinking she should have stayed in Morningside where it is the waitress’ job to take crap from ladies who lunch.

After that wench of a woman leaves, Mr. Business enters, very dapper. Nice suit, briefcase, pointy shoes, drowning in Apple products. It was the Moleskin that caught my eye, this guy knows his stationary. It seems odd that he is here in this quirky place, he looks like he belongs somewhere more… accessible, more generic. It is not until I leave (my companion has grown irritated at my fascination with everything other than his conversation) that I notice he is not jotting down the minutes of his last meeting but in fact drawing what can only be described as a Quentin Tarantino style violent comic strip. Touché.

After blatantly labelling every customer into the most ignorant of stereotypes, I finally understand why the variety of clietéle is such. I’ve seen tramp stamps and dreadlocks and tripped over buggys, men suited and booted and hipsters and grannys.  They all queue patiently for their own little cup of juju. While wealth divides, occupations control and fashion defines; coffee seems to unite us, and damn good coffee it is.

Written by Special_k, University of Edinburgh

The Problem with Summer

I think we can all agree that uni’s pretty hectic. It’s a crazy blur of essays, parties and cheap drinks. So when summer hits, and we’re presented with three stretching months of freedom, what do we do? Whilst the thought of so much time off is enough to strike fear into the hearts of students across the country, others seize the opportunity and make as many crazy plans as humanly possible. I, unfortunately, fall into the former category. Three months back in my ridiculously rural hometown is enough to turn anyone into a serial killer. That’s why this time last year I blew my the rest of my loan (and more) on two months in Australia.

It was actually surprising how effortlessly I blew £950 on flights alone, and hardly batted an eyelid when I forked out £120 for my visa (although I’m sure my overdraft did!). Looking back, it was a bit of a harebrained scheme…but oh-so worth it!

The plan was to fly over there, get a job on a vineyard, travel a bit and make every penny back. It was definitely easier said than done!

After a deliriously tiring twenty-three hours, I landed in Perth airport and checked into a hostel. The next day I got on a coach and within five hours I was in the wine region of Margaret River. It was here that the vineyard work began. What can I say about pruning? Perhaps it wasn’t the ideal choice of jobs for a chronic mirror-checking girly girl. It definitely took a while to adjust to the achey hands, makeup-less face and rude awakenings at 6am!

The good thing about seasonal work in Australia is that minimum wage is high. I was getting $18 an hour for essentially chopping at trees. You’re never going to make a killing pruning vines, but it’ll keep you going for a while at least (2 months in my case!).

After abandoning my short-lived pruning career, I travelled back to Perth with some friends that I’d met on my travels. A year later, I can still honestly say it was the best time of my life. The friends I made and the laughs I had there just can’t be matched.

Of course, coming back to England brought me back to earth with a bump. I realised it was time to come back to real life, and jump back into the (amazing but emotional) world of university again. So back to uni it was, and here I am again, faced with another endless summer.

Whether you’re content with getting your chill on (and making the most of the free meals) at home, or flying halfway across the world to make the most of a few months, just remember that these could be the longest holidays you’ll have – make the most of them!

So where will I be going this summer? China, New Zealand, Nepal? Not quite. I’ll be staying put, saving for next summer…

Written by Sarah, Manchester Uni

Don’t Look Back Into the Sun…

The student holiday, alongside graduation ball, losing one’s festival virginity and the infamous Gap Yah, are rites of passage upon which we embark, in the fruitless quest to gain some sort of wisdom. Little do we know; the sarcastic, greasy, spot-ridden bodies in which we reside are so pickled with a noxious concoction of Glens Vodka and Bavaria, that we are wholly impervious to even the mere concept of wisdom. Lets face it, our teeth are the only source of so-called wisdom we possess (and even at that we destroy them by trying to prise steel caps off glass bottles with them).

What we do gain throughout these endeavours is experience and character. Not to mention photographic evidence created with the sole purpose of clogging up one’s Facebook feed and, for an unfortunate few, Chlamydia.

There is something curiously satisfying about the stinging of sunburnt shoulders, salty skin, sweaty clothes and sandy hair. I have just returned from Croatia, a country so intoxicatingly beautiful; her bountiful beaches and picturesque towns shine like a beacon of light amongst a sea of trashy tourist destinations loaded with chundering adolescents…

I spent a glorious seven days in the company of four amazing friends. It was an adventure I’ll never forget. While listing off private jokes, comical stories and gory details would bring me immense satisfaction, it would mean nothing to you. This is why I implore you, students, to go. Go now, while you can still get away with living off four quid a day. Go now, as you pass through what will no doubt be the most carefree years of your life. Go now while you have the chance.

Where you venture is entirely up to you. Contrary to nigh on every landlord in Edinburgh, I don’t think that every student is the same. Granted, every student should, on at least one occasion, go on an outright bender and make a complete and utter twat of themselves involving traffic cones and/or shoe polish whilst abroad. There are those among us, however, who seek more than that which Shagaluf and Ios (barf) can offer. Some have the travel bug, while others have a drinking problem. That’s what we call diversity.

For those among you with the passion to see more than a half-naked chick desperately trying not to swallow her own vomit whilst doing a keg stand, I applaud thee. As for those of you who just read an interpretation of your wildest dreams, I envy you. For yours are the days upon which we reminisce; knowing they cannot be recreated after you start taking red wine too seriously.

Regardless of what path you take on holiday (booze cruise or off the beaten track) when amongst friends, with little more to trouble you than module selection and whether you’ll get tickets to THAT gig, you will never forget your student holiday. For there will never be that same combination of pals, all willing to spend their last dime to be around you, with no particular purpose but to have fun, however that my unfold, ever again. Never. Do whatever it takes to make it happen

Around about the time my friends began to book their flights, a sense of panic overcame me. I had just been fired, had no money and Virgin Media had officially announced my bounty. There was no feasible way that I could afford to jet off for a week whilst living on a diet of nicotine and sultanas.  When faced with a choice like this the lucky student can often turn to parental assistance, student loan or savings for such funding. Unfortunately I wasn’t in such a position. Mother dearest had taken this opportunity to teach me a life lesson on prioritising money, my grant had died a death 20 jagerbombs ago, and saving shmavings- what kind of student has savings anyway…?

It was my sister, the explorer, discoverer, adventurer extrordinaire  who came to the rescue. Upon hearing of my ‘super mature’ decision to forgo my excursion in order to find a job for the summer, she promptly told me I was a fool, and to get some nuts. She spotted me the cash to cover the trip. While the sum in itself  will seem irrelevant in years to come, it meant the world to me that day. For this and every other experience she has given me I thank her. Cheers VonVon.

Befriend the locals; convince yourself you’re a mixologist and make some putrid mess of a cocktail. Break into a boat; teach someone to swim and steal a T-shirt for no reason in particular. Buy chavy hats, and wear them. Follow the crazy guy to the illusive beach party. Wrangle some drinks off crazy sailors and run away. Have sex under water. Take cheesy group photos and live on bread and cheap salami.

Wear suncream, but don’t ever be afraid to get a little burnt.

Written by special_k, University of Edinburgh

 

 

To be or not to be (a student)…

Global economic recession, high rates of unemployment and increased tuition fees paint a miserable picture for school leavers looking to go to college or University. What’s the point? Traditionally if you wanted a good job then University was the way to go, spending at least 3 years learning the knowledge and then you were pretty much guaranteed of walking into a good job at the end of it- wham bam thank you ma’am and you’d have a good ride along the way.

Freshers

I wanted to go to Uni, I wasn’t forced into it by my parents- I had a choice and I took it. I was warned by school teachers that the work will be a lot, lot harder than school and to think long and hard about it. One of my teachers said she’d only just paid off her student loan, she was quite old so that was slightly concerning but I already knew that they only took a small percentage out per month so I felt the positives outweighed the negatives. Would I make the same decision with tuition fees at 9k? I’m not sure.

To be honest I thought my University course was easier than my GCSE’s, I had to get a meagre 40% in my first year at Uni to pass through to the next hurdle. The institution settled me in gently, allowing me to spend more of my time on 3-legged bar crawls, drinking cider out my shoe and shouting our University chant like I was going into battle. Little did I know that 2 years later that I would enter a battle, a battle to get a job!

Bar Crawl

3 years of amazing and happy times later, the day of graduation arrived almost like an intervention, telling me enough was enough and now I must leave the incubator and join the workforce. After all I was brimming with knowledge, high on ambition and trained like a ninja to cover all eventualities my future job may throw at me. Bring it on.

Graduation day was a pleasant affair whilst slightly strange having my smartly dressed parents, beaming with pride walking through my stomping ground. As I walked up to the graduation venue and past the local kebab merchant, memories of the rugby social we had a few nights before came back to haunt me, 6 of us dressed in girls clothes walking/stumbling home arm in arm talking about the finer points of a good doner kebab. To distract my wondering mind from discovering any more embarrassing memories I pointed out a nearby art gallery to my parents and said “It’s really good.” I’d been there once in 3 years.

Graduation Ceremony

We entered the vast concert hall where the graduation ceremony was being held, we were the 3rd batch of the day filling up hundreds of seats, my seat was still warm from the previous occupier- he/she was probably worried, like I was, about the many things that could go wrong. Will i trip over, will my pants fall down, what colour pants do I even have on?! etc etc.

Boring Snoring

The ceremony was presented by the most senior University faculty who I’d never seen before but I presumed they were probably descendants of a holy nature and had full right to be presenting me with my freshly printed degree or as I jokingly refer to it, my receipt. Admittedly I spent most of the ceremony studying peoples faces as they had to cross the vast space across the stage to shake the unknown-but-important-man’s hand. Just to let you know my findings, i found that the vast majority of people locked eyes on the man as they crossed the stage, often without blinking, scared to the bone of the vast crowd to the left of them. Many people opted for an early raise of the arm, walking up to 20 feet with their hand already extended which I enjoyed greatly. A handful of people determined to make this a memorable occasion even turned to the crowd and waved, a couple of girls did a little dance and one girl roared and fist pumped the air which personally I thought was a bit too much. If she was my daughter I’d have her put down. Personally i want for an early extend of the arm and then rather regrettably patted the man on the back whilst shaking his hand, very RnB and totally inappropriate.

Goodbye amigos(Goodbye Amigos, we will meet again soon)

Graduation day came and went, I had one final furore with my fellow primates and a few days later packed up my belongings and left the place that had become my home and provider of happy times. I moved home, living like a child again in my parents’ house and embarked on the job hunt, still full of beans and optimism. However the weeks past into months and I, like thousands of other students across the UK, couldn’t find any jobs.

No Jobs

It’s a genuinely desperate and demoralising feeling when you search the vast number of job websites and all that you see are hundreds of recruitment vacancies. How can recruitment be so popular when there aren’t any jobs? This still confuses me. In desperation I actually went for a number of recruitment interviews and I was briefed by my recruiter prior to each interview that if they ask me why I want that job I should say “I want a big house, nice car and loads of cash.” A refreshing but slightly more cringe change to “Because I really enjoy working in a team and getting job satisfaction.” For the next few weeks I visited many offices, adopting the role of a complete tool pretending I wanted to do recruitment. I didn’t get any of the jobs, my CV was too creative and one person said I was even ‘too nice.’ I’m sorry but when was that a problem in the work place? Just to add I’m sure not all recruitment people are idiots, just the ones I met.

Take a snapshot of graduates today and you’ll see thousands of students struggling to find employment or working in jobs they could have got without getting a degree or the debt! This pool of ‘tomorrows talent’ gets murkier each day as thousands more graduate with high ambitions but no opportunities. What I’ve heard a lot from employers and job vacancies is that students need to have experience in that industry to get the job however at the same time, many times students can’t get experience until they have a degree. Come on lets be honest, monkeys could do most of the jobs out there- just give us a chance!

The average student now leaves University with around £20-25k of debt and around £30k for those unfortunates in the capital. That debt is going to rise even higher with 64 Universities announcing that they will charge the full £9,000 a year tuition fees in 2012. Is University a worthwhile investment at this cost? This is an ongoing debate and not one I’m going to attempt to answer, the full impact of the governments decision on tuition fees and the state of the economy will be revealed in time.

All I would say to people out there considering University as an option is to definitely think long and hard about it and what you want out of life. Does your ideal job require a degree? Are their any jobs out there once you graduate? Can you get into that job another way? Could you put that money, your future debt, to a better use? etc etc.

With the vast numbers of people going to University these days and the rise of unemployment, its getting harder and harder for people to get jobs. My advice is that once you’re at Uni you need to gain as much experience and skills as possible so that you’ll stand out amongst the thousands of other hopefuls when you graduate. There’s so many opportunities to make yourself stand out at University, from getting involved in sports and societies to gaining work experience in local businesses, take every opportunity- it goes so fast. Just think about the day when you’re all done, you’re sat in the sobriety of your family home and you need to get a decent job. What makes your CV different from the others.

Fortunately my extra curricular activities at Uni were the ones that got me my dream job, the degree just got me the interview. Don’t give up, keep trying and good luck to all the new students out there who’ve decided to take the plunge! Whatever happens you’ll have a great few years, trust me! 😉

Written by Ben Oliver, The Student Channel

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