5 Easy & Practical Healthy Eating Tips for Busy College Students

Going away to college can be both an exciting, and very busy time for the new student. However, all that time burning in the midnight oil in the library – not to mention attending daily lectures and the need to blow off a little steam in the student bar every now and then can seriously take its toll.

This is why it’s especially important that students do their best to maintain their health and fitness. After all, you don’t want to fall behind in your studies by spending too much time tucked up in bed nursing the flu or other common illnesses that can easily be prevented by having a healthy and strong immune system.

One of the easiest ways to help your body to manage the day-to-day stresses when you’re in college or university is by ensuring that your body gets the proper nutrition. This means not only knowing how to cook, but also what to cook.

So, to make it easier for you to do so, here are my practical tips to you maintain a healthy diet as a student:

Bring (or Buy) the Right Tools

First things first, you are going to struggle to cook delicious healthy meals without the right kit! You also can’t assume that your student accommodation will come equipped with everything you need. In fact, if you end up only with a working refrigerator and an oven or stove –  you’ll be ok.

It will, therefore, stand you in good stead going forward if you arrive with the right tools for your kitchen. As the very basics we’re talking:

Two non-stick skillets – one small, one large. Yes, non-stick is not perfect for every meal but it is the most versatile and easy to use a skillet. Just clean it carefully – give it a gentle cleanse in warm water (with soap). Note that you shouldn’t don’t scrub it so that it will last longer.
A Chef’s knife – Invest in one good quality Chef’s knife. It is designed as a utility knife, making it ideal for everything from shredding herbs, chopping beg even de-boning a chicken. Don’t buy the cheapest, but you also probably don’t need to blow hundreds of dollars in it. Find a good middle ground and you’ll have a knife that will see you through your whole degree.
Saucepans – at least two, one deep and large enough to cook pasta or a big old pan of soup, another smaller for making sauces or reheating single portions of, for example, soup.
Other things, like peelers, weighing scales, graters etc – you can pick up as you go along, but the above is the bare minimum for a useable kitchen.

Build a Repertoire of Basic Recipes

So what are you going to do with all that equipment? Well, you’re going to put them to good use!

If you’ve not got much experience then pick up a few simple recipe books. Fast Food, by the British author Nigel Slater, is the perfect starter recipe book. Everything is easily explained, almost all the ingredients are very easy to source and, best of all, it all tastes great!

Beyond that, there are some easy classics that you should learn to master. A simple tomato sauce, made with chopped onions and canned tomatoes, can be the basis for an easy to make and nourishing pasta dish.

Soup, for example, makes a great student meal. It can turn healthy and cost-efficient vegetables and the cheaper cuts of meat like Chicken Thighs into healthy and nutritious meals. Make it in bulk (which is why we suggested the large size pot above) and, after you’ve eaten your evening meal you can freeze the rest of it in Tupperware boxes and you will have lunches and dinners to get you through the rest of the week.

A slow cooker, or a crock-pot, can be a great investment too. You can make great soups and stews with this wonderful little machine, except that you simply pour everything inside, give a good stir, close the lid and turn it on. You come back 5 or 6 hours later and – voila – you have a big bowl of beautiful soup ready to eat- a godsend when you are too occupied with your studies to cook.

Learn Complex Recipes (Great For Stress Relief)

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you might even decide that you enjoy cooking. After all, many people cook not only because they enjoy it,  they also believe that it’s an effective way to relieve stress.

This then could be seen as another healthy advantage to cooking your own food. When it’s coming up to exam time and you’re stuck hunched over your laptop for hours and hours, it can be great to know that you have an easy way to release that pressure – and cooking can be it!

If you can devote a little more of your time to it, then you can start practising more and more complex recipes. You could, for example, make simple flatbreads in your skillet to go with your soups and stews. Just 180grams bread flour, a teaspoon (each) of salt and dried oregano, a tablespoon of olive oil and 110ml warm water. Mix, form a ball and knead for five minutes. Divide into 4, roll flat and throw into a hot skillet. Perhaps, with consistent efforts, you’ll be able to gain cooking skills that would rival professional chefs!

There aren’t many problems in the word that can’t be solved with warm fresh bread dripping in butter.

Hey, if you really catch the baking bug you could even impress your Physics Tutor by baking her a batch of homemade cookies!

Order a Veggie Box

Remember we said that good nutrition means knowing what to cook as much as how to cook it? Well, it’s true what Mom said – fruits and especially veggies are the key to a nutritious diet. Veggies are also great for students as they are both cheap and filling, meaning they are easy on both your waistline and your bank account!

It can sometimes be hard to plan in advance for using them, so it could be an idea to invest in a vegetable box delivery if such a service exists in your city. For just a few bucks, these subscription services will deliver a box of delicious, fresh – often organic – vegetables to your door every week!

You can ask for a random selection to be delivered, and it can be fun opening up the box every week, unpacking your lovely veggies and setting out figuring all the meals for the week you can take advantage of your newly arrived bounty.

Learn Some Useful Cooking ‘Hacks’

Finally, we come to the downfall of many students – the lack of time. With so much to do and so little time, there is going to come a time during the academic year when cooking is just the last thing on your mind.When the pressure is on it can be tempting to turn to your local pizza joint or to defrost a frozen dinner in the microwave to relieve the pressure. You must, however, try to resist!

Whenever possible, anticipate your busy school periods and bulk cook lots of soups and stews in advance. Store them in the freezer so you have a supply of healthy food to simply pull out, defrost and quickly whip up when time is especially tight.

There are also lots of cooking hacks that you can learn that will save you a whole lot of time when preparing a hearty, delicious, and nutritious meal. This cover everything from chopping techniques to making the dishes you prepare last longer. We recommend Cooking Light’s helpful kitchen tips to get you started on the right foot!

There you have it! Hope the healthy eating tips I shared above will be as useful for you as it has been for me. Remember what I said about cooking being an effective stress reliever. When you feel the pressure is adding up, step back, and take 30 minutes out to cook and eat something both delicious and healthy. You will feel so much happier when you are done and can go back to your work refreshed and ready to tackle whatever task, project, or test that comes your way. Best of luck!

By Clare, writer contributor in BookCulinaryVacations.com. She is part of the Content and Community team at SmileTutor, sharing valuable content to their own community and beyond. Clare’s passion is connecting parents & children who are looking for English tuition in Singapore.


Busting the Myths About Expat Life in Dubai

Dubai skyline

Dubai no doubt exudes a vibe of exuberance, especially to outsiders, which is why expats from multiple nations have been flocking here for the last century. This makes for a diverse living experience, but for most expats here, getting from A to B doesn’t necessarily involve a ride in a Maserati.

As more and more expats alight on the sunny shores of Dubai, we thought we’d take a look at some of the most common misconceptions about the emirate, hopefully setting the record straight!

1. You Can’t Practise Any Other Religion Than Islam

While Dubai is an Islamic emirate, it welcomes people from all faiths, cultures, and backgrounds. Other religions are allowed to be practised here, and you’ll find places of worship in all parts of the UAE – from churches for the Catholics to gurdwaras for the Sikh community. Although you should beware that proselytising is not tolerated anywhere in the country.

2. There is No Nightlife

As an expat, your free time is more likely to be spent catching up on lost sleep than partying on a yacht. During the weekends, most expats would rather have a cosy catch-up over a coffee with friends and family rather than downing shots at pubs and clubs.

That’s not to say that people live a boring life here. With so many clubs around and events happening almost every night, if you want to stay out till the wee hours in the night – you can!

3. Everyone Drives a Ferrari or a Rolls-Royce

Dubai is known for having one of the highest concentrations of supercars in the world, but the reality is that not everyone can afford one. Most expats here can be seen cruising around in their pre-loved Toyotas or Nissans, or making use of the public transport – taxis are everywhere, and they are clean and reasonably priced too. If you want to escape the rush hour on the roads, there is also the Dubai Metro, which is relatively affordable and fast.

4. Drinking is Prohibited

To an extent, this is true: carrying alcohol, drinking, or being found intoxicated in public is a punishable offence in Dubai and across the emirates. However, as we mentioned above, the city has a bustling nightlife with vibrant and busy weekends where alcohol is allowed in designated premises like hotels and specified venues.

Hold your horses! That doesn’t mean anyone can just walk up to a bar and order a pint! You need to make sure you have your liquor licence, which is available to residents for AED 170 (roughly £35 or $46 USD).

5. The Lifestyle Is Restrictive

As we’re sure you could tell, life in Dubai is not as restrictive as the news and papers make it out to be. If anything, the Dubai lifestyle is the one thing you won’t hear expats complaining about!

Dubai is one of the most tolerant cities in the region and it doesn’t strictly impose a dress code on residents, but by no means are we saying that this is the Marbella of the Middle East either. A certain standard of behaviour is to be expected: always make sure you’re covered up from shoulders to knees before you walk out the door, and while you’re out and about, refrain from swearing, making rude hand gestures, picking fights, and showing PDAs.

Come and Experience Life in Dubai

Thinking of moving to Dubai? You can find more information on what lies ahead for you here. Perhaps you’re pondering the possibilities of studying in Dubai? If so, then we have a blog post to help prepare you for your uni experience abroad.

If you wish to chat to a member of the Uninest team, do get in touch!

What to Do When You’re Homesick

Everyone gets a little homesick from time to time, especially if they’re living abroad. If you start to miss home, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Read through our key advice below, and you’ll start feeling better in no time!

Get Involved in University Life

First and foremost, if you’re feeling blue about being so far away from home, try to distract yourself by keeping busy. Investing plenty of time into your studies, getting involved in as many social groups as you can, and getting to know your neighbours will help you to feel much more settled in Dubai.

Your first week is a key time to get involved in social activities. This is when university groups and societies see influxes of new members, and there will be plenty of new people living in your building, too! So make sure you push yourself out there during the first week, even if you’re feeling a little down.

Touch Base with Home (But Not Too Much!)

When you feel like you’re missing home, give your family a call or a Skype – but not too often! Touching base and catching up with your friends and relatives is important, but it shouldn’t form the basis of your life at university. Put your studies, meeting new people, and social events first. This way, you will miss home less, but keep a close connection with your loved ones back in your home country.

Get Some Home Comforts

It might sound a bit silly, but if you have certain home comforts, make sure you bring them to university with you. Whether you just want to hang a few fun pics of your friends on your wall, or you feel the urge to pack up your Bisto gravy before you fly to Dubai, make sure you do it! This way, you’ll be able to take full advantage of your home comforts whenever you need to.

Stay Healthy

Your health is the most important thing, so if you’re feeling down, make sure you talk to somebody about it. There’s no shame in speaking to a friend or a support worker at university about your feelings. They will provide you with a sounding board for your problems and will help you see things differently.

Part of staying happy and healthy at university is also making sure you have a clean, comfortable place to live. Find out more about our accommodation options so you can find your ideal “home from home” in Dubai.

Enjoy Your Time at University!

Even if you are feeling homesick, try your hardest to make sure it doesn’t take over your life and put a dampener on your time at university. Remember, you won’t be a student for long, so you need to make the most of it!

By keeping your health in check, making sure you find the right place to live, and throwing yourself into student life, you will overcome homesickness and feel better in yourself. Check out all of the amazing things you could be doing in Dubai right now!

Amazing Ways to Enjoy Christmas in Dubai

snowman on beach

Spending Christmas in the tropical desert climate of Dubai? Fear not, because there are still plenty of ways that you can get into the festive spirit – even if you’re still reaching for the SPF50 sun cream come Christmas Eve.

Visit the Dubai Winter Festival

There are a lot of things that you can expect when living in Dubai, but snow isn’t usually one of them. Thanks to some Christmas magic, Dubai’s Winter Festival makes snow in the desert more than just a mirage. Aside from snowball fights in the play area, you can also visit Santa’s grotto, learn how to make gingerbread houses, or enjoy a pantomime show – this festival really does have it all! If markets are your thing when it comes to festive fun, then you’re in luck because there are plenty of stalls for you to browse.

Take to the Slopes at Ski Dubai

Skiing in Dubai? It might sound like someone’s left us out in the sun for too long, but you really can take to the slopes at Ski Dubai. Located in the Mall of the Emirates, the indoor area has a snowpark with over 3,000 square metres of real snow. Snow and skiing not festive enough for you? Ski Dubai also houses live penguins that you can meet, or even go for a swim with!

Enjoy a Christmas Dinner at the Irish Village

Proving that the Irish have plenty more to offer besides the festive classic that is “Fairytale of New York”, the Al Garhoud Irish Village has more celebrations than you can shake a candy cane at. There will be mulled cider and homemade pies at the tree lighting, and a traditional roast with all the trimmings to countdown the 12 days of Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, you can enjoy a free night of music courtesy of DJ Marky Mark, whilst Christmas Day will bring a festive buffet where you can eat your fill of turkey and festive trimmings.

Browse the Dubai Shopping Festival Sales

It wouldn’t be Christmas without some festive shopping. But Dubai doesn’t just have a day dedicated to shopping during the festive season, it has a month-long festival! The holidays are definitely a time for going over-the-top, and the Shopping Festival ticks all of the boxes when it comes to extravagance. The highlight of the festival is the 12-hour super-sale happening on 26th December – perfect if you’ve got Boxing Day blues – and you can enjoy discounts of up to 90%.

Relax with a Festive Treatment

With all the festive fun you’ll be having, you’ll surely need some pampering. Once you’ve had your fill of shopping and skiing, treat yourself to a break at The Heavenly Spa for an afternoon of pure bliss. To help you relax during the most wonderful time of the year, the spa is offering a “Peppermint and Hot Chocolate Escape” where you can indulge in a 50-minute peppermint-infused massage (the perfect gift to yourself). After you’ve finished floating on a peppermint-scented cloud of bliss, you can cosy up in one of the relaxation rooms with a mug of homemade hot chocolate. Where do we sign up?

Rock a Dubai-Themed Christmas Jumper

Granted that Dubai isn’t ideal sweater weather, and throwing on a Christmas jumper doesn’t sound like a stellar idea – but nothing screams “festive” quite like a seasonal knitted number. Walid Claus’ range has a Dubai-themed twist because everyone needs to own a Christmas jumper, even where Santa’s sleigh is being pulled by camels. If you don’t fancy the idea of braving the Dubai heat in a jumper, you can also opt for a festive t-shirt instead.

If you’re staying with us over the festive period take a look at the top student events happening in Dubai – there are plenty of things going on, including the Beach Polo Cup in December!

5 Reasons Why You Should Study Abroad

Make no mistake, studying abroad is a serious undertaking – one that will challenge you on a personal and professional level. Even the most adventurous students can feel nervous about moving overseas to study.

Perhaps you’re a really family-oriented person or maybe you’ve settled into your own little circle of friends that you can’t bear to leave behind, but here’s the thing: all that will still be there when you get back. So push your FOMO to the back of your mind and take a look at these five reasons why we think every student should try to incorporate some world travel into their university lives.

1. You Get to See the World!

If it’s not obvious enough, travelling abroad means you get to experience new things that the world has to offer. Sure, your focus when you’re there is – first and foremost – to study, but most courses will give you the weekends off so you can plan day trips to nearby towns and cities.

So if you’ve always dreamed of travelling somewhere, be it the United States or the United Arab Emirates, this is your chance! Opportunities like this are hard to come by, so seize it while it’s there – and get more souks and sunshine in your life!

2. You Can Hone Your Language Skills

One of the major draws of studying abroad is the opportunity to learn a foreign language. Whether you’re learning the language from scratch or have been studying it for years, living abroad is the key to actually becoming fluent in that language, because it provides an immersive environment for language learning.

In addition, your host university will likely offer language courses, taught by native-speaking tutors, so you will get a more formal education on top of the practice you’ll get just from living your day-to-day life.

3. You Open Doors to Career Opportunities

Many international students fall in love with their host countries so much that they decide to seek work there. If you ever find yourself in that situation, you will soon learn that a local education will be very valuable when job-hunting in that country.

On the other hand, if you wish to return home after your studies overseas, you’ll go back with a new perspective on culture, as well as language skills and a willingness to learn. All of these qualities will be very appealing to your potential employers. The opportunity to explore a foreign country and a boost to help you earn a decent graduate job can’t be bad going.

4. You Will Make Lifelong Friends

One of the biggest benefits of studying abroad is the opportunity to meet people from different walks of life. While studying abroad, you’ll be attending classes and living in close proximity with local and other international students, and the chances are that you’ll make a lifelong friend or two!

Studying abroad will allow you to really get to know your fellow students and create lasting friendships with them. You never know when these rewarding relationships may come in handy when you’re out there living your working life or when you need to pull a few strings. Just make sure you make an effort to stay in touch with them!

5. You Will Grow as a Person

As cheesy as it may sound, living abroad is really not quite the same as your average holiday. You’ll need to do your own life admin and figure everything out by yourself, and to paraphrase Destiny’s Child, “it’s not easy being independent”. It’s true, being in a new place and away from your friends and family can be tough at times, but if you’re willing to stick it out, you’ll eventually learn to adapt to diverse situations while being able to problem-solve – and you’ll realise that it’s all worth it in the end.

Are You Ready for an Adventure?

If you’re up for the challenge, then you’ll be glad to hear that Dubai is an excitement-filled and education-driven city that welcomes students from all the over the world. Don’t take our word for it, check out these exciting student events that take place annually in Dubai.

If you’re thinking of studying here, why not take a look at Dubailand, our all-inclusive student residence, which will put you at the heart of the emirate and right at the doorstep of Dubai International Academic City.

How to Stay Focused When You’re Studying

Work for a bit, scroll through Instagram for a bit, do a little more work, then visit the website of your favourite store to browse the half-price sale. A little more work, then it’s time for the sixth coffee of the day (it’s only 11 AM).

If this sounds a bit like you, don’t beat yourself up too much. We’re all guilty of it, in one way or another. In fact, recent studies by Microsoft found that people now lose concentration after just eight seconds (which is one second later than the infamously scatter-brained goldfish).

Now, far from writing a treatise on the effects of digital life on our now-weakling attention spans, we wanted to do something a little more constructive.

So, with that in mind, we’ve put together some tried-and-tested strategies that should help you maintain concentration and build discipline. If that sounds a little stern, don’t worry – we’ve made it fun.

Meditation helps

Mediation has now entered the mainstream and is more accessible than you might think. With apps like Headspace and Calm, you can channel your easily-distracted energy from the comfort of your front room.

A leading academic study by the Association for Psychological Science found that just a week or two of light mindfulness training can improve cognitive function. Its results showed a definite decrease in mind-wandering, and a boost in memory capacity.

It’s time to get zen, is what we’re saying. Having to hold concentration, and focusing on the rise and fall of your breath, will prepare you for that revision you’ve been putting off.

Take a break

Contrary to what we said about scrolling through social media, having regular breaks is important. It’s how you schedule those breaks that matters the most.

Whether it’s taking your dog for a walk, watching funny cat videos or just making some food, taking a little time away from your work will give you perspective and prevent you from getting worn-out.

Let’s say, for example, that you work solidly for an hour – you deserve a 15-minute break. In this example, the ratio is still weighted towards study, but you’re allowing yourself a break now and then.

What’s more, Science Daily tells us that brief diversions from your work will vastly improve focus. So, there’s that.

Find a perfect study spot

Define what exactly it is you need from your study space. If you need complete and utter silence, your library will accommodate. Can’t you study without an array of snacks at arm’s reach? Do a supermarket sweep before studying, so that you don’t have to go out later.

Your environment really is important when studying. The smallest distraction could irk your already-dwindling attention span and, before you know it, you’ve packed your stuff up and are out of the library.

Work offline

This has a lot to do with the distractions of social media, and being online in general. We’ve all been down various YouTube rabbit holes, and having an open tab for your Twitter feed is asking for trouble.

Instead, try going under the radar. Ensure you have all the resources you need, shut down your computer and work like our grandparents did back in the day.

Admittedly, this might not suit everyone. If your discipline is digital-reliant then we’d suggest signing out of all social media. Basically, get rid of anything you think would distract you.

Create mental associations

If you like mind-maps, this one is for you. By summarising your study in a mind-map or spider-diagram, you’ll come to form meaningful connections while working. Your understanding will become far more comprehensive, and you’ll find studying the stuff easier.

This is especially good if you’ve been having difficulty getting to grips with your work. Exasperation and defeat are distraction’s nasty little cousins, so don’t let them get the better of you.

If you have some cool stationery, too, then you’re onto a winner.

Try to get some sleep

Those caffeine-fuelled all-nighters may be tempting, but it’s scientifically proven that a sleep-deprived brain is a dysfunctional brain.

When you’re not getting the required 7-8 hours, your brain works on a short-term memory basis, rather than retaining information long-term.

Try not to cram a semester’s worth of work into a few long-haul nights, is what we’re saying.

Anticipate your physical needs

It’s annoying when you need to go to the toilet halfway through an intense study session. Or if your stomach is a rumbling, cavernous distraction all of a sudden.

Your yogi-like concentration breaks, and you’re forced to submit to whatever bodily whim that comes your way. The secret to this is to anticipate your physical needs before it’s too late.

So, if you know you have a slog ahead of you, then just make sure you eat a little something. Or go to the toilet before setting down to work.

Yes, this probably sounds very obvious, but it’s the thinking behind it that counts. If you know your body, you can pip it to the post.

You’ll soon become immune to distraction. It’s not a student issue as much as it’s a symptom of modern living, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

If you found this interesting, there’s more where this came from. Take a look over at our blog, or alternatively, you can get in touch.