4 ways to save this January

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Undeniably, December is an indulgent month for many and quite often in more ways than one. You’ve probably eaten too much, drunk too much and ultimately spent too much. So why not start the year right? Be savvy with your money and make savings where you can, whilst still enjoying yourself.

1. Preparation is key

meal-prep-lunch-box

If you’re trying to eat healthier this month, planning your meals in advance is one of the best ways to ensure you stick to your diet goals. Work out what you’re doing for the coming week and which days you’ll need lunch and dinner, decide what you’d like to eat and then head to the shops and stock up. Whether it’s salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes, pies, casseroles, currys or roast dinners, having food ready to cook specific meals means you’re less likely to pop to the shop and reach for the convenience foods or order a takeaway.

2. Don’t join a gym for the sake of it

Fitness-Gym-Club-With-Row-Of-Treadmills

Many people claim they will get fit in the New Year and so they automatically join a gym. But within a few weeks (if not sooner), they find themselves paying for a gym membership that they’re not even using. So, don’t jump on the gym bandwagon if you’re not 100% sure the gym is for you, as you’ll only be throwing money away. Why not contact your local gyms and find out whether they can provide you with some free day passes to try out the facilities before you commit? Most gyms will run offers at this time of year so when you’re ready to join, be sure to check for any discounts or freebies that may be running. And don’t forget, the gym isn’t the only way to keep fit. Go for a run, play a game of football with your friends or take a cycle around the city.

3. Shop around for coupons

Woman-In-Grocery-Aisle-Of-Supermarket

In January, people often avoid eating out to not only watch their waistline, but also their wallet; which is good news if you’re planning on dining out this month. Many restaurants, pubs and bars know this is the case and so offer extra discounts to encourage people to dine with them. So before you eat out, take a look on the venue’s website for any coupons or check out sites such as VoucherCodes or Vouchercloud for a variety of discounts. And it’s not just eating out – shop around for discounts for days out and things such as cinema tickets and bowling.

4. Shop the sales (and earn some extra money too)

Young-people-shopping-in-the-mall

Whether it’s a new coat for the cold, new trainers for the treadmill or some new tech for uni, shop around and bag yourself a bargain in the sales. High street stores and online retailers have slashed their prices on all sorts of items with huge discounts to be had. And if you’ve got any unwanted Christmas gifts, why not sell them on sites such as eBay or Gumtree and earn yourself a few extra pounds to treat yourself to something you actually want in the sales?

Making savings and spending less than anticipated is a great way to start the year. These tips aren’t just useful for January, they’re useful to bear in mind all year round.

If you’re looking for student accommodation in London for 2019/20 we have a choice of room types available. To find out more about living with us here at One Penrhyn Road in Kingston, please contact us on +44(0)20 3770 9119 or at kingston@host-students.com.

5 of the most useful apps for students

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It’s quite common these days for students to have a smartphone or tablet on them whilst studying at university or college. So, if you do, why not fully utilise your device by downloading some useful apps that will make student life easier, cheaper and much more fun? Below are our top picks of the types of apps that you will find helpful as a student; and the best thing is they’re free to use!

1. Lecture capture
Gone are the days where you have to spend the whole lecture crazily scribbling down everything the lecturer says or shows you on a notepad. Instead, there are apps available that allow you to record audio, meaning you can sit back and listen to the lecture without worrying that you’ll miss or forget vital information. Apps such as SuperNotes, Evernote and Noted not only record audio but they also allow you to type notes, capture photos and tag specific parts of recordings so you can easily find what you’re looking for when listening back over recordings at a later date. It’s the easier, quicker and more efficient way to not only capture information, but to keep it organised and all together.

2. Revision
Whilst trawling through your lecture notes and highlighting extracts from text books is a good way to refresh your memory of what you’ve learnt over the year, it’s not the most exciting way to revise. But fear not, there are apps out there that make revising much more interactive and fun. From mind maps and flowcharts, to flashcards and quizzes, there are ways you can turn your revision notes into a much more visual and memorable experience. An app such as GoConqr is a great one to use at it encompasses all of these features and much more!

3. Student planner
Keeping track of everything you need to do can be a balancing act as a student. You’ve got lectures, tutorials and one-to-one meetings to attend, group projects, assignments and reading to complete, and then of course there’s the social side of student life to fit in as well. It’s just as well there are many task management and to-do list apps that can help keep you organised and on-top of all your to-dos. Using a task app allows you to get everything out of your head and in one place so you can clearly focus on what needs to be done. Apps such as Wunderlist, Todoist and Trello are all great examples that allow you to add tasks to a calendar, set reminders, add notes, photos and documents, and set priorities so you know exactly what you’ve got to do and when.

4. Fitness
Whether you’re a fitness fanatic or you’re new to the fitness scene and want to improve your health, there’s so many apps out there than can help you. Keep count of your steps when you’re walk to and from university, track your runs and map out new routes, monitor your heart-rate, learn new exercises with step-by-step guides, follow set workout plans and much more. Some of our favourite apps include Strava, Nike+ Training Club and Sworkit.

5. Healthy eating
Being a student doesn’t just have to be pot noodles and takeaways. Why not head to the kitchen and cook up some delicious snacks and meals for yourself? Download apps such as Allrecipes and BBC Good Food with meal suggestions and step-by-step recipes that are not only healthy, but they’re quick and easy to make; so you don’t have to be a professional cook to make them. And if you’re being good and want to watch what you eat, you can keep a diary and track your food using an app such as MyFitnessPal.

If you’re a student studying at university or college in London and need a place to live, then why not stay with us here at One Penrhyn Road? Contact us to find out more about life at One Penrhyn Road and living with us. 

World Mental Health Day 2018

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Tomorrow (10th October), is World Mental Health Day. The global day is a day for mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma.

And the focus of this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign is young people’s mental health. Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders, are common and often start at a young age. In fact, 50% of mental health issues are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.

For students suffering with a mental illness, it can have a negative impact on their performance at university or college and may also affect their interpersonal experiences, which in turn can lead to academic failure and drop out, job difficulties and negative social outcomes.

That’s why it’s important to recognise that our mental health is just as important as our physical health – and we all need to take care of it. Below are just a few small things you can do to look after yourself and help protect against stress.

coping with stress infographic

If you are concerned about your own mental health and wellbeing, remember you are not alone. Whether it’s a friend, family member, lecturer, university or accommodation staff, support line or charity such as Student Minds, it’s important to speak to someone about how you are feeling.

To find out more about World Mental Health Day visit here

The Host Environmental Pledge

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We’re excited to announce that we’re launching the #HostEnvironmentalPledge campaign for the 2018/19 academic year.

We’re aiming to become more environmentally friendly by reducing our overall utilities (gas, electric and water) consumption to save energy. We want to encourage responsible behaviour and drive sustainability at not only One Penrhyn Road, but at all of our Host sites in the UK and Ireland.

3 x pledge images

The campaign will encourage both our students and staff to take small actions to save energy such as turning off lights when leaving a room and unplugging chargers which aren’t being used. And it’s not only the environment that will benefit from this campaign – with less greenhouse gas emissions being released into the air, but in return for saving energy, we will be donating money to charity.

If we can reduce our overall energy consumption at Host by 1% then we will donate £10,000 to charity. A 2% reduction will see a donation of £20,000. 3% is £30,000, and so on. The 3 charities we’ve chosen to donate the money to at the end of the campaign are LandAidStudent Minds and Just A Drop.

So, it’s time to get involved and go green! It’s so easy to get stuck in. 

Keep an eye out throughout the year for more information on the campaign, the charities we’ll be supporting and some top energy saving tips! 

5 things to do in Fresher’s Week

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Starting university this September? You’ve probably heard about Fresher’s Week and all the hype that goes along with it. However, it can be overwhelming at times, so we’ve pulled together some top tips on how to make the most out of your experience.

1. Meet new people

Students-Relaxing-In-Lounge

Starting university and not knowing anyone can be quite terrifying. But you shouldn’t let this worry you too much – remember, most students will be in exactly the same boat as you and will be hoping to make friends quickly too.

So, whether it’s people on your course, in your accommodation, at university events or even whilst you’re in a queue, don’t be afraid to start up random conversation with others. They’re probably be feeling just as nervous as you and will be grateful of the chat!

2. Sign up to societies

students-stretching-in-yoga

Joining societies is a great way to meet new people and if you’re all part of the same society, you know you’ll have at least one thing in common with each other! And Fresher’s Week is the perfect opportunity to sign up to a whole host of different societies and clubs.

Don’t just stick to something you’ve tried before or are good at, try something different or unusual, push out of your comfort zone. Sign up for as many things as you fancy and then after a few sessions you’ll soon know which ones you prefer and want to stick with.

Having an activity to get involved with is also a great way to relax and unwind after working hard at university.

3. Get out and about

london-tower-bridge

During your first few weeks at university it’s important to get out and explore the city. Don’t worry if you’re a bit nervous about going out, it’s only natural. It can be a scary time for any fresher because you’re in a new place and are still getting to know people. So, try to familiarise yourself with the new area and get to know your away around.

Travel the route to university, find the nearest food shops and sample some of the local restaurants and bars. You’ll soon realise there was no need to worry and you’ll know the place off the back of your hand!

And whilst you’ve got the time, why not be a real tourist? Check out some of the city’s top attractions and landmarks and really get to know the place that will be your home for the next few years.

4. Be organised

notes-macbook-study-lecture

Fresher’s week will be pretty chaotic but it’s not all about societies, partying and drinking. They’ll be some important introductory things for you to do at university such as registering and collecting your student ID, receiving module timetables and reading lists, attending subject-specific introductory talks and meeting your personal tutor.

It’s a good idea to get these things done and dusted with as soon as possible so that you haven’t got to worry about them for the rest of the week. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have everything ready for when lectures and the hard work starts – from stationary and books, to laptops and lunch boxes, because it won’t look good when you turn up for your first day of lectures unprepared and having to borrow a pen!

5. Find out what support is available

female-student-needing-help

Although you may not need any support right now, it’s worth finding out what help is available to you throughout the year – and the entirety of your time at university, should you need it.

Universities have a variety of different departments and staff on hand to help offer support and advice on things such as money, careers, mental health and wellbeing, learning difficulties and religion, should you ever need it.

It’s important to remember that you’re not alone and if you’re experience a problem or have something on your mind that is worrying you, you should always speak to someone.

We hope that you enjoy Fresher’s Week and life at university. Remember to enjoy yourself and make the most of your time as a student!

3 top day trips outside of London

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Whether you’re new to London or you’ve come to call it home, there’s always something to do in the city in your free time. But if you fancy a change of scenery, then why not head further afield and explore some of its neighbouring counties?

London is surrounded by beautiful places waiting to be discovered – all of which are within a short drive or train ride from the capital. So, escape the hustle and bustle of city life and start exploring this summer…

1. Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead

Windsor-Castle-And-The-Long-Walk

Home to the historic market town of Windsor – most recently famous as the place where Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle got married and where the royal wedding was celebrated, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is a beautiful and historic destination for a unique day out.

Walk the ‘Long Walk’ – a beautiful 2.65 mile tree-lined avenue, where you’ll be taken to the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world and the Queen’s second home; Windsor Castle. And if you time it right, you can catch a glimpse of the guards marching through the streets of Windsor for the Changing of the Guard ceremony.

If you fancy a flutter on the horses, be sure to visit the world-famous Ascot Racecourse. Although most commonly known as the home of Royal Ascot in June, you’ll find races and events taking place all year round.

And of course, when it’s time to refuel, you won’t be disappointed with the range of restaurants, bars, cafes and pubs to enjoy – including some renowned Michelin-starred restaurants!

2. Buckinghamshire

Waddesdon-Manor-Country-House-

If you’ve not visited Buckinghamshire before, then you might be surprised at how familiar it looks. That’s because it’s home to the famous Pinewood Studios – one of Britain’s largest TV and film studios, and has been the backdrop for many films including Bond, Harry Potter and Bridget Jones’ Diary. You can visit the studios and even sign up for free tickets to be in the audience of live shows filmed there!

You can also visit the village of Missenden – the home of the world-famous author Roald Dahl. Walk through the countryside and take in the sights that inspired some of the late author’s greatest stories.

And how does a cellar stocked with over 10,000 bottles of wine sound? Don’t believe us? Check it out for yourself and sample some fine wines in the cellars of the magnificent Waddesdon Manor.

The Grade I listed house was built in the Neo-Renaissance style of a French chateau by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild between 1874 and 1885. The building opened to the public in 1959 and now displays the Rothschild Collections of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts. It’s the perfect place to soak up some culture, admire the beautiful manor grounds and take some time out.

3. Kent

Beautiful-Sunrise-At-Dungeness-Beach-Kent

Kent; also known as the ‘Garden of England’ for its abundance of orchards and hop gardens, and often referred to as the ‘Gateway to England’ because of its close proximity to mainland Europe.

But we like to know it as a great day out. Why? Because there’s so much to see and do. Located right on the south-east coast of England, and packed with some of the best beaches in Europe and the most Blue Flag beaches in the UK, it’s the perfect place to escape to on a sunny day!

For those not so sunny days, you can shop till you drop at Ashford Designer Outlet where you’ll find top designer brands under one roof. Or head to Bluewater – the largest shopping destination in the south east of England outside of London, where there’s over 330 shops, 40 cafes, bars and restaurants plus a 13-screen cinema to keep you occupied.

And if it’s history and culture you’re after, Kent is a treasure trove of historic attractions so you won’t be disappointed. From beautiful castles steeped in history such as Hever Castle, Leeds Castle and Dover Castle and historic dockyards, to the magnificent Canterbury Cathedral they’re all waiting to be explored.

If you’re visiting London and its surrounding counties, why not stay with us at One Penrhyn Road? Summer accommodation available until 2nd September with rooms available from just £215 per week. Contact us for more information on summer bookings. 

Leaving your student accommodation

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For many students, university has finished for another year and it’s almost time to move out of your student accommodation. But as you pack up your belongings and get ready to leave, you might be wondering what to do with some of your things. Below we have some helpful information and suggestions for moving out.

Your belongings
Pinglocker logoIf you’re off travelling, staying with family or are visiting friends for a few months before you move into a new home, you might not know what to do with your possessions as you move out. That’s where Pinglocker can help; they provide convenient and affordable student storage in the UK. Not only can they store your items, but they can collect them and deliver them back to you as well. And with exclusive resident offers including free boxes and free insurance, it’s storage made simple.

Leftover food
Host Pause Logo Donation BoxAs you clear out your accommodation and rummage to the back of the kitchen cupboard, you might find some unopened tins of beans, packets of instant noodles and the like – which you didn’t get around to enjoying. If that’s the case, and you’re not going to bother taking them with you, then don’t let them go to waste; donate them to a local food bank. Here at Host, we’re supporting the Trussell Trust who provide emergency food for people in crisis. So, when you move out, donate any non-perishable food that you don’t want to people in need. You’ll find boxes near Reception where you can drop any unopened food in, and we’ll deliver it to the local foodbank on your behalf.

Non-perishable foods include: Cereal, tinned foods (soup, fruit, vegetable etc) pasta, rice, lentils, beans and pulses, tea/coffee, biscuits, UHT milk.

Unwanted clothes
cancer research collectionIt’s surprising how much can change in a year; trends, fashions and styles all pass as quickly as they arrived. What once suited you might not anymore, and what you feel comfortable in now might not be the same as what you did a few months ago. And as you pack, you might come across clothing you arrived at uni with in September and wonder what were you thinking wearing that? But if you no longer want items, don’t bin them; donate them to charity. We have a clothes collection basket here at One Penrhyn Road with all donations going to Cancer Research UK. Providing the clothing is clean and in a good condition, your donations would be greatly appreciated.

Foreign Currency
If you’ve travelled to another country in the last year and have any foreign currency lying loose and you’re not sure what to do with it, then we have a collection jar in Reception which you can drop any change into. We’ll then donate all the collected money to a local charity.

If your current contract has ended, if you’re studying over summer or you’re arriving in London early before the new term starts in September, we have summer accommodation available here at One Penrhyn Road. Contact us on +44(0)203 770 9119 or at kingston@host-students.com for more information or to book.

Affordable student accommodation in London this summer

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Whether you’re visiting on vacation, you’re here on an internship or as part of a summer language course, or you’ve arrived in the city early ahead of the new academic year starting in September, there are many reasons why you may be in London this summer.

And although you might have your reason for being in the city, you might not know where you’re going to stay during your time here yet. You could stay in a hotel which can be a lovely luxury for a night or two, but if you’re staying for a longer period of time, it probably isn’t the most practical option as it can soon become very expensive. You could instead stay at a hostel. There are lots of hostels available in the city and it’s a much cheaper option and certainly won’t break the bank. However, sharing with others and staying in a hostel isn’t for everyone.

So, what if there was another option? One that offered the comfort, quality and privacy of a hotel, but didn’t burn your budget in the process? Well, if you’re visiting London, you’ll be pleased to hear there is; student accommodation.

Here at One Penrhyn Road, we provide accommodation to students during term time while they study at the local universities and colleges. But when the summer term ends, the majority of our students vacate in June, and our rooms become available through July and August for students like you to stay in before our new residents move in for the start of the new academic year in September.

So, what’s it like living at our student accommodation at One Penrhyn Road?

1. Location

Nestled in the heart of the beautiful Kingston upon Thames, One Penrhyn Road is ideally located for anyone who needs to be in and around London this summer. It’s just a stone’s throw away from the popular bars, restaurants and shopping districts of this bustling market town, and the town’s riverside location with meandering tow paths and its Royal Parks provide plenty of outdoor places to escape to when the sun’s shining. And with Kingston station only a short walk from our accommodation, you can jump on the train and be in Central London within 30 minutes.

2. Cost

Staying with us at One Penrhyn Road is the perfect solution for affordable London living throughout the summer months. We have private, self-catering studio rooms available starting at £215 per week – that’s less than £31.00 a night; which makes it’s much cheaper than a hotel, and can even be cheaper than a hostel in London. The less money you spend on accommodation, the more you’ll have to go out and experience the city!

3. Choice

Not every student’s reasons for staying in London are the same, and neither are their requirements for accommodation. That’s why we offer a variety of options to suit your needs. From Premium or Deluxe, to Deluxe Plus Studios, we have a number of room types available for you to choose from. And if you don’t have it with you, we can even provide bedding for a small cost, so you haven’t got to worry about bringing it with you.

And whether you’re visiting for a short period of time or the whole of summer, we have flexible contracts available so you can stay with us for as long as you need to (1 week minimum stay applies).

4. Facilities

At One Penrhyn Road, we offer much more than just a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. We have a 24/7 staff presence on-site, free 100Mb Wi-Fi and we also offer a variety of on-site facilities for you to use throughout your stay including a games area with pool table, and communal lounge area with a large TV and comfy seating. You’ll also find an on-site laundry room with washing and drying facilities available for a small cost.

So, no matter your reason for visiting London this summer, make yourself at home with Host at One Penrhyn Road in Kingston. Learn more about living at One Penrhyn Road and our summer accommodation, or contact us on +44(0)20 3770 9119 or at kingston@host-students.com to make a summer booking.

Easter traditions and why we have them

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Easter weekend is almost here, and every year around Easter you’ll see supermarkets, shops, websites and events all using the same things to symbolise the occasion; Easter eggs, Easter Bunny and Hot Cross Buns. But why are these used to represent Easter? To find out this, were going to have to go back in time…

The Easter egg

Easter eggs go back a long time, even before Jesus! It’s believed eggs represent the meaning of a new life, which is often used as a symbol during the spring season. Also from a Christian’s point of view, the egg is believed to symbolise the new life of when Jesus was resurrected from the tomb on Easter Sunday.

Ever wondered why people decorate the eggs? This tradition goes way back to the 13th century. People were not allowed to eat the eggs during the time of Lent, so they would decorate them instead. And then when Easter finally arrived, they ate the eggs as a form of Celebration.

The first chocolate Easter eggs were made in France and Germany in the 19th century, but were very bitter and hard. As chocolate making techniques improved overtime hollow eggs were then developed. These are the ones we have all become accustom to, with many brand such as Cadbury, Nestle, Mars and Lindt bringing out new and exciting chocolate variations of the egg each year.

The Easter Bunny

The Easter bunny also goes way back – right to the 13th Century in fact. Back then, people would worship gods and goddesses and one Goddess was called “Eostra”; known as the goddess of spring and fertility. Her symbol was the rabbit, as she believed rabbits had a high reproduction rate. So, with spring symbolising new life, the bunny and the egg eventually become connected.

And if you believe in the Easter bunny, you’ll know that he or she brings baskets filled with chocolate eggs on the night before Easter. The Easter bunny will either put the eggs in a certain spot, or the bunny will hide the eggs in the house or garden for people to find in the morning of Easter, commonly known as an Easter egg hunt.

Hot Cross Buns

On Good Friday, it’s become traditional in the Christian religion to eat warm hot cross buns. The reason these sweet, spicy and fruity buns are eaten, is because the cross on top of the buns symbolises the cross that Jesus was killed on.

So, now you know why we have these things, you can get ready to indulge in your favourite Easter treats this weekend.

Easter hot cross bun recipe

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Whether you’ve already finished university or you’re finishing up this week, the Easter holidays are upon us and Easter weekend starts this Friday – which is Good Friday. And on Good Friday, it’s become traditional in the Christian religion to eat warm hot cross buns. The reason for this is because the cross on top of the buns symbolises the cross that Jesus was killed on.

If you’d like to try the spicy, sweet and fruity buns for yourself, you can easily make them in no time at all. Follow the simple recipe below from BBC Good Food and enjoy some traditional, home-made hot cross buns.

Ingredients

For the buns:

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 heaped tsp mixed spice
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 200g mixed dried fruit
  • 7g sachet easy-blend dried yeast
  • 200ml milk
  • 2 eggs

For the crosses & glaze:

  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • Honey or golden syrup for brushing.

The Method

  • Put the flour into a bowl and stir in the salt, mixed spice and sugar.
  • Rub in the butter with your fingertips. Stir in the dried fruit, then sprinkle over the yeast and stir in. Gently warm the milk so it is hot, but still cool enough to put your finger in for a couple of seconds. Beat with the eggs, then pour into the dried ingredients.
  • Using a blunt knife, mix the ingredients to a moist dough, then leave to soak for 5 mins. Take out of the bowl and cut the dough into 8 equal pieces.
  • Shape the dough into buns on a floured surface. Space apart on a baking sheet, cover loosely with cling film, then leave in a warm place until half again in size. This will take 45 mins-1 hr 15 mins, depending on how warm the room is.
  • When the buns are risen, heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Mix the flour with 2 tbsp water to make a paste. Pour into a plastic food bag and make a nick in one of the corners. Pipe crosses on top of each bun.
  • Bake for 12-15 mins until risen and golden. Trim the excess cross mixture from the buns, then brush all over with honey or golden syrup. The buns will keep fresh for a day. After that they are best toasted and served with butter.

Fancy a twist on the classic hot cross bun? Take a look at the BBC Good Food website for this recipe as well as different flavoured buns and savoury versions.