Going into rented accommodation with only a student loan to support you can be intimidating, especially when you’re going into a private tenancy in the middle of a city. Going into it with absolutely no idea what the average pricing is of the area or not knowing how to deal with agencies and landlords can be hard to deal with, but it isn’t impossible, even if it feels like it.
I live on a main road in one of the priciest towns in my city. I’m paying close to £600 a month in rent and bills, and I’m completely reliant on my student loan. This is my first year at university, and this isn’t uncommon. The place I study is in a very posh area, and with the unpredictable and late hours we work, living out of the area isn’t the best idea. Considering there are two other universities in the area, the rent in accommodation isn’t exactly cheap. I know a lot of my friends who live in the area are paying around the same as me, or even more a month. Budgeting sounds impossible when you’re paying that much a month, but there are some ways around it. Here’s what I’ve learnt over the last six months -
Get a budget book - This sounds so stupid, but I recently got a budget book and it’s saved my life. I’m tracking what I’m spending every month and it gives me a basic idea of what I’m spending money on. It’s simple but I love it.
Budget before you pay your first lot of rent - Student loans come through in blocks at the beginning of term. I budgeted my first term before I even moved just to make sure that I’d have enough to live on. I looked at how much I had to spend a week and that made it so much easier to move and relax knowing I had enough money for the term. Over the holidays I budgeted my next term, and I’ll do the same in the next holiday. It averages everything out and I feel a lot better going into the term.
Savings - Not long after moving, I started a Monzo account and it’s amazing. You can sort your money into pots, it’s really helpful if you’re saving for different things at a time. This isn’t sponsored, I just really like their services and it was super easy to set up. I put £20 a week in it and any ‘extra’ money, such as scholarship funds into the account. This helps take a weight off my shoulders as I have a deposit to pay in a few months for a new flat and it isn’t cheap, but I know I have the money in my savings if for whatever reason I don’t have the money in my bank account.
Don’t be afraid of the reduced aisle - Our local supermarket isn’t cheap. On average to fill our freezer and cupboards from this shop, it costs at least around £60 - £70. Split between three of us, it isn’t bad, but it’s not ideal. We always go to the reduced aisles first to see if there’s anything we can use, and that did lead us to buying a birthday cake for £3 one week despite none of us having a birthday, but who can turn down a £3 cake?. Sometimes there won’t be anything you need, but it’s always worth a look.
Know your shops - As I said, the local supermarket is very pricey, but before me and my flatmates go back to the flat after holidays, we always do an online order from the cheapest shop we’ve found. For us, this is Iceland. Not sponsored, but they have some really cheap bits and so far our shop from there has lasted us over a month, and we still have a decently stocked freezer and cupboards. It cost about £50 but split between the three of us it wasn’t bad. Once you find a cheap shop, it’s always worth sticking to it.
Loyalty Schemes / Cards - Tesco Clubcards and Nectar Cards are incredible. They’re free to sign up for but you get so many discounts / offers that are always worth having. Me and my flatmates have a competition going on as to who can get the most Nectar points by the end of each term. It’s fun and an incentive to use the card. This isn’t sponsored, but it’s something I’ve found that helps. If the shops you use deliver, it’s always worth signing up for newsletters to get the information on offers, and sometimes by making an account you get exclusive offers and they’re always good to have.
Make the most of discount codes - If you’re like me and love a takeaway, UberEats are so good with sending out discount codes - this isn’t sponsored I just appreciate a good discount. Between me and my flatmates, we get around three 50% off codes a month. We don’t have takeaways that often, but they’re always handy to have. When we have them does often dictate when we have takeaways. UberEats and Deliveroo have shops too, so every now and then when we get a discount code for either one, we do our shop from one of the available supermarkets . Easy way to save money!
Saving money on a student loan will always vary between people. What works for me might not work for you, and that’s completely valid! Even if they don’t work, I hope they’ve given you enough of an idea to start figuring out what works for you. If you ever need help with finances, there will often be someone working in your educational facility who can help, and don’t be afraid to look into scholarship funds. There will always be options out there.
You’ve got this!
~En | Photo by Kenzie
Since I was about eleven, I’ve thought about gender and what it meant to me. I vividly remember thinking - what does being female feel like? That’s still something I think about a lot, whether I choose to or as a general thought that crosses my mind. What’s it like to feel completely set in your sex? To feel as if, without any doubt, that it’s you? That it’s who you’re supposed to be? With more and more pressure to know exactly who you are by the time you leave your teen years, it gets stressful. More so than it needs to be. Finding yourself takes time t, and it’s never too late to really figure it out. What's most important is that you’re happy and healthy.
When I was fifteen, I started to realise that I’m not cisgender. In a panic, I suppressed that. I ignored it and that’s probably made the situation worse. I can definitely say that putting it off doesn’t help. Neither does just ignoring it. If anything, it makes it worse. It definitely made it harder for seventeen year old me to grapple. Throughout those two years where I ignored these thoughts and feelings, I would go back and think that I was cis, and despite everything, I still do. I still question it, but I know that my heart isn’t in it. It’s more something I wanted to be rather than accept how I really feel.
During lockdown, I’ve had a lot more free time to think about these things, and as amazing as that’s been, it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Though I can now say I’ve figured out my sexuality, my gender is another story. No matter how much I think about it, no matter how many times I send myself into a breakdown over it, I can’t figure it out. I can’t label it, and I don’t know if that’s something genuine or if I’m inadvertently stopping myself from labelling it. Something I will always say is that you don’t need labels, as long as you’re happy then that’s okay, but when it comes to myself? Not knowing makes it harder. Overthinking it is a massive problem for me, one that I don’t know how to overcome. It’s as if I’m scared that gender comes with a rule book and if I don’t fit into that rule book then it’s wrong. I don’t know if that’s me being paranoid about societal standards, because society’s expectations of non-binary people are just androgynous, and half the time that’s not me. Society’s expectations made it so much harder, but seeing my friends come out as gender non-conforming and being femme or masculine helped a lot more than I think anyone realises. Even now, even when I’m vaguely confident in my gender identity, I still question it. I don’t think I’ll ever stop. Even though I’m pretty sure I’m non-binary, I think my mind will always question that, no matter what my heart says.
As much as I want to say that questioning was the hardest part, coming out isn’t any easier. The truth is, I’m only out in TWE and to my closest friends. In September of this year, I went through my social media and changed my pronouns to she/they, just as a slow transition. I stopped referring to myself with the feminine words such as daughter, woman, and replaced them with child, person, things like that. It was slow, but it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. On my first day of uni, we were asked to share pronouns and I said she/they, the first time I’ve ever said that out loud, and as scared as I was, I’m so glad I did it. I remember getting a few messages asking about preferences, and the fact that people cared enough to ask made me pretty happy.
One person in particular keeps referring to me with they/them pronouns. Any time we’re together, she does that. I didn’t realise how happy that would make me. I don’t think she realises just how much it means to me either . We’ve had the pronoun chat and I’ve always said I have no preference because I was scared to say anything, but it’s as if she knows. My flatmate referred to me with they/them pronouns the other day, and that was different. I’ve known him for two years and hearing him say that when I never thought he’d ever accept me was incredible.
Now it’s December. We’re about two weeks away from Christmas and I’ve almost finished my first term. Even through this, I’m not fully confident in my gender. It’s a long process and as I’ve said, I know I’ll probably keep questioning it for a while. No one back home really knows my pronouns, which I didn’t think would bother me, but I’ve spent three days in rehearsals where I’m referred to with she/her pronouns and it feels wrong. I’ve never felt that to such an extent before, but it’s uncomfortable. I don’t know what that is or what that means, but all I know is that I don’t like it. Despite that, despite all of the questions and the stress of trying to figure this out, I know who I am. It’s whether or not I’m ready to accept that just yet. Maybe I am.
My advice to anyone trying to figure out their gender identity would be - don’t rush it, don’t overthink it, don’t torture yourself about it, and make sure you’re safe. Express yourself when you’re comfortable, but make sure you’re safe as well, too. Especially now when there are so many debates over gender identity, your safety is the most important thing. It probably probably won’t be easy. Not with society being as it is. Even with that, don’t isolate yourself. Don’t keep this to yourself. I’m fortunate enough to have friends that I can count on, especially to have one who’s been through this already and has been absolutely amazing throughout all this. Don’t be afraid to experiment. of experimenting. T That’s such a big part of this but it’s often overlooked. Experimenting is the best way to figure it out. , so don’t be afraid of doing that.
I don’t normally like writing about things that leave me so vulnerable. I’ve never really opened up about my struggles with gender identity, but it helps me to write it out, and if I can help anyone by sharing my experience, then it’s worth it. Something to remember is that you’re not alone. Even if you feel like you are, there are so many people around to help and support you. Even now in the media, there are people coming out and being so unapologetically themselves. Even though things aren’t great, they’re getting better.
If you’re struggling or need any help with LBGTQ+ / mental health issues, here are some helplines / general information. You’ve got this, I believe in you.
General LGBTQ+ helplines-
Worldwide helplines -
Whether you’re applying for a job or even to university, it’s likely that you’ll be asked for a CV. A CV is a brief overview of your working life, highlighting the most impressive or important things you’ve done, as well as your important qualifications and some personal details. Employers and interviewers see hundreds of these a day, so it can feel intimidating to even try to make one. Even with that, it’s something that often needs to be done; but how do you make one?
A CV is vital when applying for jobs. No matter where you go, it’s very likely that you’ll be asked for one. It’s likely that you’ll be asked for a cover letter with a CV, but a cover letter is much more specific to a job. A CV is one sheet of paper that you can use in any interview, and you only need to update it if you have another job or qualification to add to it. Overall, you’ll only have to make this document once, then it’s a matter of keeping it up to date. Everyone has a different way of making theirs, it even varies with what kind of job you’re applying for. A CV should include -
I had to write my first CV in college as a part of our course, and it felt impossible. I didn’t know where to start. It was stressful to even think about. I remember my lecturer telling us to make it look nice. He said to make it reflect who you are as a person. Personally, I’m still not quite sure how to do that in a CV, but it sounded like a good piece of motivational advice. Since then, I’ve redone my CV quite a few times. I’ve lost count of how many. Through constant googling and picking up advice from people here and there, I’ve created a functional CV. It’s not perfect, but it’s not something that’ll be perfect the first time. It takes a couple goes to really get it down, but once you do, you’ve done it. Here are some of the tricks I picked up along the way, and hopefully these are useful to you:
Those are my tips on how to make a CV! Hopefully these are enough to help you get an idea of what to do or what to expect when making one! Remember, when you’re just getting started, no one’s going to expect it to be perfect or incredibly detailed. As long as you keep updating it, it’ll all be fine. Good luck! You’ve got this!
Politics can be intimidating and it can be hard to figure out where to start learning about it. Learning about politics is important so you know who to vote for, and since politics is such a hostile environment, many things can factor into why people may be voting for the wrong person.
I see a lot of people saying that if there isn’t a good party they won’t vote. This is dangerous because there will always be a ‘better’ party. They will never be perfect, but one will be less dangerous than the other. This is where tactical voting comes into play. Other times I see people say they won’t vote because politics doesn’t interest them, or that politics is boring and they don’t care for it, or even just claiming that they’re not political. If politics doesn’t interest you then it means that the current political climate suits you so you don’t feel the need to change it. I think you should instead look out for people who genuinely need a hand in political climates and help them out.
There can be a lot of misinformation about politics, sometimes even from those we think we can trust. Here’s how I started learning about politics and how I got a foot in it:
Politics is intimidating and petrifying, but it’s so important to understand it. It’s important to understand just how impactful your vote can be. Voting can be life or death for some people, and, though that seems dramatic, it really is. It’s important to know what parties stand for and know how to figure out what’s fake news and what isn’t. It’s important to know where your ideals stand and how to align them with the best party for you. Remember, vote for who’s capable. Don’t vote for someone because it’s funny. Vote for someone who’s capable for the job and can really inflict positive change.
It’s hard, but it’s worth it. We need to make the world a better place and, though we can only vote for our country, it will be a massive help. Change won’t come overnight, but we can do our part.
Your vote matters. As soon as you can do so, please register to vote. Don’t underestimate how important it is. Just vote. Don’t let anyone discourage you from voting. .our vote matters.
Register to Vote UK -
Register to Vote EU -
Register to Vote USA -
Sometimes finding vegan beauty products is hard, especially when some brands aren’t completely vegan. Especially on makeup, the labels can be tricky to read and sometimes they don’t make it clear if they’re vegan or not, which is where extensive googling comes into it. In any product it’s easy to hide animal produce in the ingredients list, but when using animal products in the beauty industry, they become harder to see and therefore are easier to mask.
Recently there’s been a lot of makeup companies creating vegan formulas, swapping out their makeup products with a vegan recipe, or even going completely vegan. Some of these vegan brands are - KimChi Chic Beauty, E.L.F, By Beauty Bay and KVD Vegan Beauty. Some makeup products, especially ones by vegan/well known brands can be pricey, but I’m a student so most of these products will be under £15 or are on sale frequently! Before I mention any products, I want to clarify that what works for me may not work for you, and that’s okay, these are just products that work for me and ones that I use almost everyday in a full face. Just a mention that this isn’t sponsored, this is just the products I use on a daily basis! Here we go!
There are my recommendations! Remember, what works for me might not work for you and all that jazz. One thing to watch out for with vegan pressed pigments, red ones can stain your eyes. That’s why on labels they’re not recommended for the immediate eye area, but they’re totally safe. I don’t find that they stain too bad, once I used one of the reds from the James Charles pallet as an eyeliner and I just looked like I had red eyes for a day afterwards. They’re completely safe to use, just be mindful that they could stain.
Those are some of the vegan products I use in my day to day makeup routine, or have used and just recommend, hopefully this has helped a bit! Remember that there is no right or wrong way to do makeup, what works for you is perfect.
(Photo by Maxx)
Halloween derives from the Celtic festival Samhain, in which they celebrated the new year on the first of November. The day marked the end of Summer and the start of Winter, in which they believed that the veil between the living and dead was blurred. October thirty-first is the day they believed that ghosts returned to earth, and that celebration became Samhain. When the Roman Empire conquered Celtic land, they merged Samhain with Feralia, a day in which they remembered the dead, and a day to honour Pomona, the goddess of trees and fruit. The second is where bobbing for apples comes from. These are the earliest influences of Halloween! There are many more things and events that have influenced Halloween becoming what it is now, but these are the biggest factors.
Halloween is a time to get spooky, to enjoy scary movies, to dress up and eat sweets! Of course, it being 2020 throws a spanner into some plans, mainly trick or treating, but Halloween can still be fun regardless of that! We can still dress up, we can still eat sweets and watch scary movies, and most importantly, we can still have fun! I see a lot of people being reckless and borderline dangerous on Halloween, and I thought I’d share some of my do’s and don’t’s I’ve picked up over the years. Remember - these are meant with a pinch of salt, but some of them fall into common sense and being a general decent person.
Do keep warm. It’s Autumn and pretty chilly. Dress appropriately for the weather. It’s tempting to dress in something nice that’s more summery, but you could risk getting ill. It’s worth keeping warm and dressing appropriately for the weather. Your body and immune system will thank you for it!
Don’t eat more sweets than you can handle. Listen to your body! Know your limits. It’s tempting to eat as many sweets as you can, but your body won’t appreciate it. Keep moderation in mind. If you start to feel ill, stop. Plus, then you’ll get more sweets for later and that’s always good.
Watch scary movies! That could be Coraline or Halloween, it depends on your preferences! Don’t scare yourself silly. Halloween isn’t about being scared, it’s about having fun. Don’t push yourself. Know your limits!
Don’t be offensive. I feel as if this goes into common sense, but I see more and more people breaking this each year. Be aware of harmful stereotypes, cultural appropriation and anything else that falls into the offensive bubble. Dress up, but keep those in mind. If you’re in doubt, it’s probably worth staying away from that idea.
Do drink responsibly. To the over 18s, (under 18s, don’t drink alcohol, it’s illegal, BUT if you do then please keep this in mind), know your limits. Have a designated sober friend. Make sure you’re safe. Turn your location on on your phone, make sure someone knows where you are, don’t take your eyes off of your drink, when the room starts spinning then stop drinking. Be safe. That’s the important thing. This goes for all year round, but this is a general reminder in time for Halloween. This also leads me to my next point!
Don’t break Lockdown rules! Don’t go to parties, don’t meet in groups of six or more, don’t meet with people outside of your extended household, but the rules might vary depending on where you live! What’s said in the conferences usually contradicts itself, so check the government website and check your county’s guidelines just to be safe. I can’t stress enough how important this is. Don’t break lockdown rules. If you want to party, Zoom exists. Be sensible. Listen to the rules. Don’t be -that- person.
Do look after yourself! This is a general all year round one but another reminder for Halloween! Listen to your body, don’t do anything harmful, abide by lockdown rules, socialise either online or with your extended household, have a relaxing movie night, eat some sweet things, but listen to your body! Know your limits and your boundaries!
Don’t prank unwilling participants. Egg someone’s house? Toilet paper over someone’s car? Don’t. 1) Eggs can be useful for other things and if this year has taught us anything, toilet paper is important! 2) Consent. Don’t prank anyone who doesn’t consent. Don’t do anything that will affect another if they don’t consent. Consent is key! Unless they literally say yes, then don’t do it.
Do decorate! Get your spook on! Remember to reuse anything you use next year, don’t throw things away unless you have to, and if they’re single use then try to avoid them! Think of the environment. Plastic banners, bunting and table decorations? They can be reused! Throw them in a bag and wait for next Halloween! Get in the responsible spooky spirit!
Don’t contact spirits. Ouija boards might look cool, but they’re dangerous. Even if you don’t believe in them, stay away! Divination is fun, but ouija boards are dangerous. They’re a door that once opened you have no control over. Don’t. It’s not worth the risk. Don’t try any type of divination unless you’ve done ample research and are prepared to do so.
Do have fun! Again, keep everything above in mind, but have fun. This is one of the most important steps, along with staying safe. Every day is fun day, but Halloween is a good excuse to get spooky and have fun!
Those are some of my tips for Halloween! Even though things are hard this year, we adapt and we overcome. Maybe do a Halloween quiz on zoom with some friends! Do a Zoom fancy dress competition! Netflix Party! Things are different but this is the new normal. As much as it sucks, it will get better. I know that that’s cliche, that everyone says that, but things will. Halloween is no exception. It’s a Saturday night and a full moon, take that time to enjoy yourself and get spooky! Be safe, be awesome, be you, be spooky! Embrace the eerie time and keep in mind general safety but that being said, enjoy yourself. Take the spooky time to recharge. You deserve it.
~ En x
With university applications starting to be sent out, it’s important not to forget about the interview process. I did exactly that: I didn’t think about what I’d need for interviews, so that’s why I’m here reminding you!
If you’re applying to an art course/theatrical course, most universities will ask you for a portfolio, which is a showcase of your work. If you do textiles, it will probably be full of designs and pictures of finished products. If you do art, it’ll probably be full of your artwork. If you’re a lighting designer, it will probably be full of your light designs and the finished products. It’s a way for the interviewers to see what you’re capable of. It’s an important part of an arts course, and even though the universities won’t say you need a portfolio, it will definitely help. Here’s the structure I was taught for portfolios -
That was the advice my lecturers gave my class and it worked for us! Something that I felt intimidated by was the style. What was it meant to look like? What kind of work was I meant to put in? What makes a portfolio stand out? Here are some of the things I learnt -
Making a portfolio can be intimidating because it’s your impression on your interviewers, but as long as you have the passion, they’ll take in anything you show them. Creating your portfolio is best to do as soon as you can. I waited until I had at least one confirmed interview which ended up with me rushing to create a portfolio within a week. Learn from my mistakes, make one as soon as you can. It isn’t mandatory to have one, but it really helps.
If you’re doing textiles or a costume course, take an example of something you made. My friend took a tailcoat she made to all of her interviews and that went down really well. If you’re working on a project, take some of the work with you. I took a prompt copy from a show I was working on at the time to my last interview and that went down amazingly, it gave us something else to talk about and it showed my growth form my portfolio and it was relevant. Plus it’s a very good way to get a free ego boost. Those are my tips on creating a portfolio, I hope they helped!