Often it seems that the assumption is made by Universities that every student has travelled far and wide from other cities and countries to get “the authentic University experience”.
Whether that is manifested through tutor meeting where you are asked if you’ve found a house, and if you’re setting into new Uni lifestyle, or through society meetings being held at ungodly hours on campus, it can feel that “the live-at-home student” doesn’t always fit into University life.
This perhaps poses the question: How can I make the most of my University experience as one of these “live-at-home students”?
One of the most important things to do is to establish a strong friendship group who value you as much as the other students in the same boat as them. Even if you don’t live in a flat with others from your course, or can’t quite find the time to travel in for late night society meetings, you can always make the effort to sit next to new and unfamiliar faces in each lecture. Invite those who you do know out for coffee or food dates. You may even find yourself functioning as their local tour guide.
The more time you invest into them, the more time they’ll invest into you.
Let’s face it… as a local student, you have so much knowledge about the local area, you probably know the best restaurants, the best day trips, where to go for a walk or see a show, and you have the advantage of using all of this to get to know and engage with more people from your course.
If you have a car, there’s a bonus! Split the petrol cost with some University friends and you can travel all over the UK and share the experience and the memories together.
Student, Louise Laidler said:
“I was worried that by living at home I wasn’t going to make any friends at Uni but that wasn’t the case in the slightest. I’ve met the loveliest people on the course and staying at home has not affected this at all.’
Another difficulty about commuting into Uni can be the transport, and the price that comes along with it. Bus and train fares cost a fortune, but a yearly Tyne & Wear all zones metro pass is worth it - £360 - working out at less than £1 per day. There are two stops in Jesmond which make it easy to be well connected with the many students who you’ll know who live in Jesmond and it's quick and easy with trains traveling to and fro every 10 minutes.
Nathan Davison uses the Tyne & Wear Metro system to commute daily and explains:
“Living off campus can really save you a lot of money, but one of the downsides is that, if you have a break in your timetable, you cannot go home. However, this is a good opportunity to go the library, study and complete any assignments you have, leaving you more time in the evening to do what you like.”
As you may know (as you may be one yourself) a lot of live-at-home students also happen to be mature students; people who already have a home, have their friends and perhaps meet University norms to an even lesser extent. Arguably, one of the hardest questions to deal with as a mature student is: how on earth am I going to fit in and make this work alongside a bunch of 18-year-olds?
Well, just like any live-at-home student, it’s important to forge that friendship group that values you and longs to invest and be invested into by you. It’s likely you’ll be the wisdom provider of the group and someone who is looked up to for help and reassurance on assignments. Yes, it’s a big responsibility, but again, just use it to develop relationships and bounce off other students regardless of the age gap.
There are just as many opportunities on campus for commuting mature students as there are for anyone else. You can join a sports team, apply for student rep and mentoring positions, ‘Go Volunteer’ or write for The Courier, which can even be done from home.
Mature student and Courier Editor, Christopher Little said:
“The University experience certainly is different for a mature student – particularly from the area. I must admit that I did have slight concerns other students might think I was just some weird old fella, but everyone I’ve met has been really friendly. There is a part of me that envies the ‘vibrant’ social lives of younger students, but it’s the opportunity to learn and gain new skills that I thrive on.”
As a live-at-home student, find other commuters, forge relationships and get involved. Regardless of your circumstance, there are ample opportunities to create your own “authentic University experience”.