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Practical advice: skills you’ll need

In this article you'll look at the skills you'll need when you move away from home.

It’s worth building a solid foundation of practical skills before you start uni life. Think of this foundation as made up of all the necessary life-skills. Each life-skill is one brick in the foundation. Make sure you have them properly ‘cemented in’ prior to arriving so you’re set to study well and enjoy your time at uni.

  • Laundry: Learn how to use the washing machine. Ask the main laundry-person in your house to show you and then practise. Find out how to dry your clothes thoroughly before putting them away.
  • Shopping: It might be an idea to ask what’s needed at home and go food shopping for your current household a few times. This will help you get used to prices and how/what time of day/where to find bargains.
  • Cooking: Learn about food safety and ask for recipes to take with you from whoever does the cooking at home. Join in the preparation at home to get some practice, then have a go at cooking unassisted before you rely entirely on your own skills.
  • Microwave: If you don’t use one at home, ask a friend who does have one to show you a basic programme for heating food up and defrosting frozen food.
  • Getting up in time: Who usually makes sure you get out of bed and out of the house on time in the morning? Start taking that responsibility so it becomes second nature and you’re on time for classes.
  • Medication: Make sure you have enough of any regular medication with you to last till you go home again or until you’re registered with a local GP practice. If you’ve never managed your own medication, make sure you know how often to take it and how long it’ll be before you need to order a new prescription.
  • Public transport: Find out how to take the bus, train or a taxi if you’ve never done so.
  • Washing-up: There might not be a dishwasher in your halls so it’s useful to learn this simple, practical task.
  • Decision making: Are you good at making your own decisions? Talk to someone you trust about possible scenarios that might arise and how you might react. Will you choose passive, assertive, or aggressive ways of relating to others? There’s a further resource on decision making in the Downloads section below.
Article adapted from the University of Reading’s Counselling and Wellbeing blog post ‘Practical skills to have in place before coming to Reading Uni’

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Which skills do you feel you have little or no knowledge of? Make a note of those you need to practice in your Action Plan. Over the next few days take at least one, no matter how big or small, learn how to do it and practise a few times.

© University of Reading
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