10 Must-Dos in London

10 Must-Dos in London
10 Must-Dos in London

Venice Trip Report

Venice Trip Report
Venice Trip Report

Disneyland California Trip

Disneyland California Trip
Disneyland California Trip

Why is university life so expensive?

Students are often portrayed as living on a shoe-string budget of a few pounds a week. Not true. Everyone I know seems to have a decent amount of money to spend, no we're not all private school kids; at least I'm not.

I've been keeping a close eye on my finances to see where the money is going and it's an interesting thing to look at. Let's take this week for example: I've scheduled £70 as my budget for this week - notice it's only Thursday at the moment.

I went for a shop at Sainsbury's this week - total spend £34.33. Almost half of my budget - gone. The theory being that making food at home is cheaper than eating out - which is true. However this week I also got a take-away which is unusual for me (I've probably only had four the whole time I've been here) which cost me £10.65 as that was the minimum for delivery. Altogether that's almost £45 spent on food.

We need entertaining too - and this week I've bought 4 DVDs online at a cost of around £22. I want to point out this is atypical of me to buy so many DVDs. I also paid for my subscription of Spotify - £10 for the month. I've bought a reflective jacket for cycling safely and a laptop sleeve too - together probably around £7. That's the problem with online shopping though - the accommodation warden has known me by name since about week 1 as I go there to pic up my mail so often.

I've spent no money on clothes his week, I also haven't even gone out this week so no money spent on tickets or alcohol. Then there's always cash that I withdraw to pay for those little things such as a hot chocolate, a newspaper or a snack, or getting the bus home instead of cycling.

In total this week is looking to be close to £100 so far again.

So why is union life so expensive? Firstly, eating out is a privilege I've not had, or frankly needed, back home - my lovely mum did most of the cooking for me and cooking two or three times a day is not only exhausting but repetitive too.

Secondly, the student union here (and the university itself) at the University of Leeds does really take the mickey when it comes to prices: a decent sandwich is £2.99 (as opposed to £1.80 at Tesco just 5 minutes away, a loaf of bread is £1.60 as opposed to a pound or £1.10 in any supermarket), drinks are £1.50 and £2 whereas other places charge £1 each, water bottles from vending machines are £1 (50p anywhere off campus), and it goes on. They really aren't helping poor students. The union takes advantage with prices.

So how can I and you cut back? Well let's look at what wasn't essential: the take-away (£10.65) could have been sustituted for a home-cooked meal for just £1 or £2 [saving £8.50ish]. The DVDs weren't necessary, I could have contented myself with BBC iPlayer for free or bought just one for about £6 or so. [saving £16]. I could live with old music and YouTube I guess and save the £10 for Spotify but it's only £2.50 a week and I do get access to millions of songs so I'm going to leave that as an essential. So just by eliminating the takeaway and the DVDs I would have saved myself about £25.

The worrying thing? This has been my cheapest week so far looking back. Oops.

However, what fun is life is you can't spend money whilst at uni? The time of no worries (except assignment deadlines, exams, social anxieties). A take-away once in a while is no problem and the DVDs will probably be rewatched numerous times to death. I'll just stick to being a normal student thank you very much, spending away...

1. I do work seasonally so all the money being spent is my own which makes me feel less guilty than if it were my parents'. I am by no means rich, I've worked for all the money I'm spending/relying on student loan a bit and bursaries.
2. The Student Loan after accommodation leaves me with something like £40-50 a week to live on which is not enough to live on usually, let alone have the uni experience.

Working at Disneyland Paris - The Contract (4 weeks to go)

So it's just four weeks until I go out to Disneyland Paris for 17 days to be a Cast Member. It's very exciting at the moment as I just got my contact and info pack through the post.

There are two copies of the contract - all in French, detailing all the legal stuff, incl. your pay and your role amongst things like Social Security and health benefits. You send one back to the office.

You also get two copies of the housing contract which gives you basic details such as the names, how much rent you have to pay and what is and isn't provided. You send one back to the office and keep the other.

You also have to send a copy of some ID back too.

Apart from that there's a welcome letter detailing your first steps - eg. go to the Fantasia building before 6pm on day zero, and day one is traditions at 8.45am at the Disney University (aka Hotel Cheyenne). There's also a map, a disability leaflet, a travel expenses form, a contacts form, and a social security/tax details form.

Going to post back the contracts and the ID today. I don't expect to receive anything else before I leave except maybe a confirmation email but maybe not even that.

Very excited now! But have also realised that there is actually all these new people (Staff) to meet which could be daunting but on the plus side I have heard that the staff canteen is excellent!

More to come soon!


1. Apparently staff only get free entry to the parks after 2PM on non-blockout dates and as it's Christmas I'm guessing there will be a load of blockout dates, so I'm planning on using my staff discount to get the Dream annual pass for E179.10 instead of E199.

2. Disney recommends bringing 350-460e to cover the first few weeks as they only pay you at the end of the month - I need euros in cash for housing deposit and various things, probably 250 in cash and some change is a good idea.

3. I need to get a french bank account by the looks of it.

4. Discounts in shops is 25% (though i'm guessing this varies from shop to shop and item to item) and 20 or 25% in restaurants depending and 10% on entry tickets. In contrast the annual passport Dream have 20% on entry tickets, 10% on restaurants and 20% in shops. So looks like its a mix and match between staff ID and the annual passport.

5. Professional attired needed for traditions and orientation and black shoes and socks required anyway. They clean my costume.

6. I pay for laundry at the accommodation, and (posssibly, hope not) wifi too.