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Dealing with Money in Britain

Moving to Britain can mean that you'll be dealing with a lot of new things, and one of the most commonly encountered one is an entirely different currency. Wherever you're from in the world, the British pound will be new to you, and there are some useful things to know when using it.

Exchange Rates

The first and most immediately apparent difference you're likely to notice is that £1 is more valuable than just about any other single unit of currency in the world. This has the effect of making prices for things like groceries appear to be quite low in comparison, simply because the number will be lower, even if the value is actually the same.

In order to make sure that you know how much things actually cost, it's very important that you become familiar with the exchange rate between the pound and whichever currency you're most used to using. When you know this, you'll be able to shop smartly, and will be able to know when something is good value or not. It's a good idea to look at the actual exchange rate to get the best idea, not the prices that the bureau de change is offering.

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Just How Important is Sunlight to Students?!

I was surprised to see that one of the UCL student residences was nominated amongst the worst new buildings in Britain. Being used to the student life, I could imagine peeling walls, dirty lavatories, rusty pipes, hoards of unattended rubbish and so on. But my surprise grew when I realized that the main concern was the lack of sunshine due to the adjacent building. Moreover, it affected only 23 rooms.

In my experience, students usually go to their rooms only if they want to sleep. Often, they get to their bed early in the morning (after a night spent partying or studying) and in that case, the shadow would be an asset. It is hard to sleep when the morning sun knocks at your window.

Student residences in Slovakia, where I did my studies, have different problems - the ones I originally expected at the UK's. But the situation is not so bad, compared to the price. The monthly prices in the UK might run so high that in some residences in Slovakia you could live for the whole academic year.

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Two Student Residences Nominated for Worst New Building in UK

UCL and Oxford University student residences have been nominated as some of the worst new buildings in the UK. Both make a shortlist of just six nominees after facing huge opposition.

465 Caledonian Road

The UCL building is a 350-room block of flats (pictured above) on Caledonian Road near King's Cross in London and rooms cost up to £730 a month. Despite the cost, 23 of the rooms face directly onto the brick wall of the building next door, meaning they get less sunlight than the legal minimum.

Indeed, planning permission was originally denied by the local council in 2010, only for a successful appeal to give the green light. During the appeal process, it was argued that the "student lifestyle" meant that the rooms would only be used for sleeping in and therefore didn't need the legal quota of natural light.

The problem arose due to the fact that the adjacent building was listed and therefore could not be altered. The photo below is of the first scaffolding going up for the student flats, showing just how close the two buildings are.

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Tips for Moving into Your First Student Flat

Moving into your first student flat can seem both extremely exciting as well as slightly intimidating, whether you're moving straight out of your parents' place or from student halls.

The prospect of slumming it out with other people your age is something to look forward to, but you should ensure that you secure a flat in the most advantageous way possible, from choosing what kind of flatmates you want to live with, to which of the many broadband packages you should opt for to suit your needs the best.

Start looking early!

A critical error most students commit is failing to start their flat hunt early enough. You'll encounter these unfortunate individuals by the truckload at university. The last thing you want is to have to desperately choose from the last few remaining flats which, unsurprisingly, are not likely to be the best of the bunch.

The secret to snagging a good place quickly is to indulge in some high-intensity viewings. Instead of seeing one place every few days, try and fit in 5 to 6 viewings per day. This way, you'll be able to compare the flats you're seeing much better and come to a more informed decision, ultimately.

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Sorting Out Your Finances after Graduation

After you graduate from university, you will have a lot to think about and a lot to sort out. One of the many key things you will have to give some thought to is your financial situation. As a university graduate, it is now time to stand on your own two feet, which means looking at ways to get your financial situation off to a good start.

While you might not have had a huge amount of experience when it comes to finances - after all, for most students finances are pretty limited - the sooner you start planning the better. Some of the things that you will need to think about in order to start life in the real world on an even footing include:

Earning some money

In order to sort out your finances you actually need to have some finances to sort. This means getting a job sorted out so that you have some money coming in. You should avoid the mistake of waiting for the ideal job to come along, as you could be waiting for some time in the current economic climate. Instead, get yourself any job that pays a decent wage and start earning some money while you wait for the perfect job to come up.

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