So you’ve bust out of school and into the wide, adult world. Go you.

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For some of your peers that has meant travel. For others it’s meant joining the workforce. For you it means…further schooling. That’s a brave decision, to forego the opportunity to globe trot, or start raking in regular coin, and instead head straight back into the salt mines. Oh, no doubt you’re excited about it—you’ve got a few easy years of doing nothing more than getting smashed, recovering from getting smashed, and then getting smashed all over again, haven’t you? And there’s no more being told what to do or where to be all the time, eh? Well I won’t tell you otherwise, but I will tell you that you’re not completely free of all shackles. You’ll have to do stuff. You’ll have to hand in the occasional assignment, and turn up to at least the first lecture. It will be hectic.

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There’s more. As grave-looking career advisors and wise-expression-wearing uncles have probably been telling you, you’re about to become more conscious of the value of money than you have ever been before. Aside footing of at least some of your own bills now, there will be more members of your preferred sex to impress than ever, and too many social functions to keep track of. And you’ll have next to no money to spread across all this.

Still, you can have a quality lifestyle in that post-school, pre-having-any-real-money space. In fact, you can enjoy what uni has to offer, keep up with your studies, and all the while live like a boss.

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Here are a few tips for how:

Eat like a media mogul

Rich people eat well. But you can too, and without losing your Austudy payments. Yeah, if you research, buy home-brand and re-heat stuff constantly you can ensure you’ll have a meal each day and change for the uni bar, but you can do better. The key is to forget about trying to be so self-reliant, and do the opposite—engage with others. You’ll never have a better chance to befriend and interact with people from all around the globe than while you’re at uni. Around 230,000 international students were enrolled in an Aussie uni in 2014, for instance—that’s a lot of different people with a lot of knowledge about different foods. Make use of it. 

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Get to know international students—talk, interact, engage. Of course, not every foreign student will be a master chef. But students who’ve shown the initiative to set up camp in a foreign land for a period of time tend to be go-getters and as competent at such life skills as preparing food as anyone, and a lot of it will be taste-bud exploding, perspective-altering foodstuffs that you will never even have thought have trying. See if you can tap into that. It doesn’t mean hang around your dorm kitchen every meal time whimpering for food scraps. It means engage—maybe you have something to exchange for the occasional cooking lesson or meal-sharing. Maybe you can introduce visitors to sports, places or pastimes that you do know about, and they want to know about.

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If you can make use of the fantastic resource you’ll have at uni—a diverse pool of knowledge about food of all kinds—then you might cop a few bad curries, but you’re also going to have a lot of good (and free) food, a lot of new knowledge and a heap of new friends.

Party like a rock star

The gold-watch-owning, polo-playing set do love a party. But just because you’re a povvo student doesn’t mean you can’t get jiggy too, because you don’t always need to go pleading with scar-faced bouncers to get into dazzling soirees. Let the party come to you. All you need is a venue; a backyard, a communal room. More importantly, when you don’t have cash at hand, but fancy a get-together, let the ingredients of a good party come to you. Make attendance dependent on a contribution—from drinks, to food, to fuel for a bonfire. 

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Anyway, the value of harnessing contributors was made apparent. You can party it up without going broke (or broker). And you will probably get some leftovers for the next party. 

Live to excess like a merchant banker

When wealthy people have time on their hands, they have the resources to do things out of the ordinary—to do things us plebeians don’t even think about ‘cause we’re either slaving our guts out or at the pub. They play polo on their yachts, and shoot peasants, probably. But being so random seems like it could be boring, really, particularly when you think about the sorts of fulfilling things you can do if you just give things a go. You’ll have more free time at uni than you’re going to have afterwards (particularly if you’re an Arts student). Do something with that. Yeah, sleep in and drink until late sometimes. But do other stuff too. Give real consideration to doing some volunteer work, maybe. You don’t have to volunteer for the usual suspects like Lions clubs, environmental organisations, charities and the like, though there’s every reason to help them if you want to.

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However give some thought to what it is that you like doing, and see if there’s some volunteering you can do that would enhance your experience of it. Like sport? Become an official, like an umpire or a strapper. Like science? Volunteer at a lab. Like celebrities? See if there’s an internship at a media outlet, or some dogsbody tasks they’d be willing to let you have a crack at. The pay won’t be great, unless you consider no payment to be a good rate, but it will give you experience you can bank. And it will open doors for you in future. 

At the end of it all if you get innovative about your uni lifestyle you can eat well, party hard, and have perspective-altering experiences. That’s what rich living is.

Written by Dave Day

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