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Going home for Christmas: essential student checklist

Congrats, you've made it through your first term at uni! Here's what to do before leaving campus, plus how to make the most of your time off...

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Before you leave uni

Make sure you've done the following before you head off for the holidays:

Book your train tickets home

The price of train tickets will make you weep if you haven't bought them in advance. We're guessing your student loan may be running low by now too, right?

Prices tend to spike in the run-up to Christmas, when everyone is travelling home for the holidays. Minimise the cost – and book you window seat – by booking your tickets in advance.

Save a bit more cash by being flexible on your route, time and date of travel, booking online and investing in a 16-25 railcard for a third off rail fares. Mature students over 25 in full-time education are also eligible. 

And if you're being picked up by family or friends, make sure they're also aware of this!

Get as much work done now

Put in a few more hours in the library before the end of term, so you don't have unfinished work hanging over you during Christmas.

If you have a deadline before the end of term, try to hand everything in as soon as you can (without compromising on the quality, of course). If you can, you may be able to leave uni a few days sooner and get more quality home time. 

Return library books 

A pain point for many students over the holidays: remembering that unreturned library book sitting in your uni room, accumulating late charges by the day.

Check with the library before you leave that you've either returned any due books, or that you have time to return them once you're back on campus.

Tidy up your room

Picture the scene: it's January, the post-holiday blues have kicked in and you're missing the comforts of home. The last thing you want to face is a messy room with the leftovers from last month's assignment-writing chaos strewn across your desk (or worse, mice have moved in because you didn't take out your rubbish).

Recycle any work papers you don't need anymore (and file away the ones you will need), run the vacuum cleaner round and change your linen so you can jump into bed on your first night back. 

The same goes for communal areas; don't forget to clear out the fridge and the bins. It's definitely one of the more productive ways you can procrastinate!

Essential packing

How you're travelling home will affect what you can pack. Take back just enough clothing to tide you over during the holidays avoid lugging a black bag of weeks-old laundry.

Do bring back any valuables, including laptops and tablets. Plus, don't forget materials you'll need for any uni work you need to complete over the break.

Locking up

Student accommodation can be a target during the holidays, when they're mostly empty. Take sensible security precautions: lock doors and windows, keep items out of sight and don't publicise on social media when you'll be away.

Once you're home

You're back home and already relishing a warm house and a fridge stocked with food. But how do make sure that you don't waste these next few weeks?

Catch up on reading

If you do have assignments to complete or reading to catch up on, try to schedule in small pockets over the next few weeks to do this – it will make January so much easier once you return.

See home friends

Make the most of your time off to catch up with friends – you've probably got plenty of first term stories and experiences to exchange and some term-time weekend visits to arrange... 

Family time

Yes, sometimes they can drive you nuts; but make the most of being at home and seeing your family. You should have lots to catch up on, especially if you haven't been too great at staying in touch during term... 

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    Earn some money

    Working during the holidays might not be fun, but it's a good opportunity to earn money to support yourself through the rest of your uni year. Start applying in November or earlier to make sure you secure some seasonal work (or see if you can return to a previous job). 

    Even if it means not quite getting the month of lie-ins you were hoping for, or turning up to gatherings with friends a bit later, keep thinking of that bumper Christmas overtime pay!

    Get some life advice

    Somehow you've managed to survive alone at uni for a whole term… Granted, it may have included turning some washing pink, losing some clothing to wear and tear, and eating some questionable culinary experiments.

    While at uni in your first term, make a note of any domestic tasks which no amount of Googling can help you with and ask your family for help while you're home.

    Enjoy the downtime

    And finally, remember to recharge after your first term away.

    The last three months will have felt like an eternity, full of changes and new experiences; so getting away from the drama, chaos and hijinks of uni life for a bit may feel well overdue.

    Once refreshed, you'll be ready to do it all again come January...

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