Here at Vigiles Group we are passionate about many things. Closest to our hearts and the reason for starting this business was my daughters experience at University. Fire safety and student well-being can take a back seat in academic life.
Vigiles want to raise awareness to ensure students are kept informed about these two issues through our blogs.
As we move into the start of September, students will be heading off to University. Be it as a fresher or starting another academic year. We have written in depth blogs recently about each subject (which you can find here) but would like to share with you some condensed thoughts and handy tips to help you through the start/return to University. Keep this blog to hand for future reference.
Electrical and fire safety
More than 70% of student accommodation is privately owned which means that proper fire safety regulations may not always be in place. 15,432 fires were caused by electricity (out of a total of 28,350 fires) in 2015/16, see here for more details. What can you do to ensure your safety? Follow these simple steps:
- Do not overloaded any sockets or extension leads as this can lead to a fire.
- Always use genuine chargers and not cheaper, fake ones as they may not confirm to fire safety regulations.
- Check all appliances are registered with the manufacturer to ensure any product recalls are notified to you.
- Regular tripping of the electrics, flickering lights and scorching around sockets can be a sign of out dated wiring in the house.
- Check all appliances do not show signs of damage or age. Look out for cuts or abrasions to cables, loose parts, screws and signs of overheating or burning.
- Ensure the property is fitted with a working smoke alarm. Test the alarm every fortnight.
- Never cook when drunk as your normal safety conscious mind tends to go out the window. Falling asleep in the lounge whilst the pizza is cooking in the oven is a recipe for disaster.
Your landlord is legally obliged to ensure that your electrical installations are kept in repair and proper working order. If you have reported an issue to your landlord and he or she has refused to put the situation right or ignored your request, you should contact your local authority who will be able to help you. If your accommodation is on campus then all matters should be reported to the University.
Sound of mind and body
Plenty of students starting or returning to University can fall back into a student way of living. Be that take-aways, cheap cooking options, zoned out on the PS4 or a few pints at the pub every night. Whilst this is fine in moderation your body needs to be in tip top condition to deal with studying and exams.
By staying mentally and physically well you will be able to face the daily challenges head on. Following these simple ideas will help you in the long run:
- Sleep – Try to not drink any caffeine based drinks, watch TV or play computer games an hour before going to bed as your brain does not switch off, meaning a restless night. A good night’s sleep refreshes you physically and mentally.
- Alcohol – A stimulant and a depressant, too much can lead to lack of sleep, anxiety, hangovers and in some cases addiction. Control the amount by taking regular glasses of water when at the pub. Pretend it is Gin, your mates will never know.
- Diet – Nuts, seeds, eggs, avocado, oily fish are considered “brain food”. Vegetables and fruit are antioxidants, helping your mind.
- Exercise – Even if it means walking to University instead of getting the bus, it is better than nothing.
Fitting in and loneliness
Moving to another city where everything is different will immediately put you out of your comfort zone. Add onto that the pressure of meeting new people and having to live with a bunch of people your own age, all with different views and opinions. You must fend for yourself with regards to money, shopping, cooking, socialising and so on. Then throw into the mix the coursework and exam pressure.
Did you know a startling 70% of students feel lonely and isolated at University? If you feel you fit among that statistic how many of your peers also feel the same but have not mentioned it? Meeting new people can be daunting. Humans by nature roam in packs, having to find a new pack can be difficult.
If you find yourself struggling to integrate then talking is key in expressing your feelings. By keeping quiet and bottling things up other students may not know you are struggling to deal with University life.
There are many pillars of support out there, the number one being your parents. They do not want to see you struggle. Technology today means they are there on hand 24/7. Call, text or better still Skype them. Seeing a loved ones face automatically makes us feel better.
Then there are your current non-University friends, they are your friends for a reason. They will listen and maybe come to visit you in University for a weekend. That way you can introduce them to other students in your accommodation, a great way of getting yourself integrated.
All Universities recognise that students can and will struggle. Every University has a student support group. Your Student Union will point you in the right direction.
The Samaritans also offer a safe place for you to talk, any time you like, in your own way, about whatever’s getting to you. The “traditional” image of The Samaritans being a “last resort” couldn’t be further from the truth, have a look at their website www.samaritans.org to find out more.
Finally, there is the GP. Anxiety, depression, body image, bullying to name a few are real issues that are taken seriously today so do not be afraid to seek help from a medical professional. There is support out there and this is a great article to keep to hand.
Keep yourself safety aware, fit in mind and body, talk to people around you and your time at University will be a blast.