Protests, partying and perfect hangover cures: an alternative student survival guide

Want to win at uni? Our panel of experts including Owen Jones, Years & Years, Lady Leshurr and Julie Adenuga show you how


By Ted Loveday, University Challenge winner, 2015

Memorise your US states. Prepare some sassy comebacks for Paxman’s insults. Practise saying “Rachmaninov” in the mirror until it rolls off your tongue. Buzzer reaction speeds are key! Learn from Russia’s Olympians by doping up on six espressos before going on air. Or try adopting a longer surname, like “Drnovsek-Zorko”. You’ll gain crucial seconds to think. Finally, stock up on knitwear. It’ll itch, but granny will be so proud when her cardigan’s trending on Twitter.


By Gemma Cairney, radio presenter

Jaguar And Jack Russell Are Best Friends
Gemma Cairney.
Gemma Cairney. Photograph: Rhodri Jones

It’s hideous isn’t it, the yearning to be liked? No matter how many people thumbed hearts on your recent Insta-selfie, it still feels hard to make new actual real-life mates. If you are feeling like it’s a hopeless mission to find someone like you, someone that’s into what you’re into, someone that will accept your every quirk, it’s time to shake a little. So hunt like you are searching for Pokémon and sniff out your flavour of ‘freaks’ in every corner, whether it’s signing up to the Fencing Society, or galvanising everyone in your halls to start watching a Scrubs boxset. You never know, you might end up being best mates with that person who keeps leaving their pubes in the shower.
Gemma presents The Surgery on BBC Radio 1, Wednesdays, 9pm. Her book, Open, A Toolkit To How Magic And Messed Up Life Can Be, is available to pre-order now on Amazon (


By Priya Elan, writer

Look, none of us saw this one coming: dressing for now is about looking like a football fan from the 80s. The trend of athleisure shows no sign of letting up and has even gone into its second iteration: splicing up bits of a smart look with a posh jogging bottom or a high-end-look hoodie with some sensible pants. There’s also a market for retro tracksuits (think: Ray Liotta in Goodfellas) paired with, say, some reissued Gazelles. Just don’t let anyone tell you you look like Loadsamoney.


By Yotam Ottolenghi, chef

Mmm. Shakshuka.
Mmm. Shakshuka. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian
ottolenghi box set
Yotam Ottolenghi. Photograph: The Guardian

Hangover food is all about eggs. Braised, if possible, in a tomato sauce. Shakshuka is the ultimate for mopping up sore heads. Make a big batch of the sauce in advance: diced red pepper and onions in a pan for a long slow cook with a couple of cans of tomatoes, some ground cumin, a pinch of cayenne or some chopped red chilli – and then you are all set to go. Add the sauce to your pan, make however many wells you want for the eggs (four or five works well for two people) and use a fork to whirl the white of the egg through the sauce. Braise on a low heat with the pan covered until the whites are just set and the yolk still has a wobble. Serve as it is, with some crusty white bread. You can also tailor the sauce on the day with whatever you have around: the salt from some chunks of fried bacon are sometimes a must. Chopped parsley or coriander also adds requisite green if your body is crying out for it.


By Laura Snapes, writer

University is not always the time of your life – and that’s OK. Lowered expectations are generally a decent survival technique, though it’s vital to recognise when everyday crapness becomes untenable: a disappointing course, crushing mental health or hunger for life beyond nursing off Wetherspoons’ midweek drinks deals at 9am lectures. Your parents will freak when you quit, but tell them that companies are increasingly dropping degree requirements for job applicants. And, besides, you can always go back as a mature student (when it’ll be so expensive, you’ll make better choices anyway).


By Owen Jones, writer

Robert Lindsay as Citizen Smith hi000580493.jpg
Owen Jones.
Owen Jones. Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

Starting a revolution is both an excellent hangover cure and a convenient distraction from the library. It doesn’t mean spending the afternoon shelling the Palace of Westminster. But joining a living wage campaign for university cleaners, getting involved in a single-issue group on, say, tax justice or racism, or signing up to a political party (cough, except the Tories or Ukip, cough) – these can all help create a peaceful revolution to change society. A skilfully crafted placard – featuring such classics as “I wish my boyfriend was as dirty as your policies” or “What do we want? Things to be better! When do we want it? Within a reasonable timeframe!” – is a must. Politicians think they can screw over young people because they won’t fight back, so remember to shout very loudly so that they get the point. Bring a determined scowl and a sage nod. Radical change – and nobody gets shot.


By Joe Bish, writer

WOMBCORE Heads up: goth is back, but it’s now really sad and feminist, and let me tell you, being sad and feminist is very in vogue now. Think Jenny Hval and Julia Holter having a tea watching the rain. That moody person you fancy will love it.
DRUG SINGING It’s like Gregorian chanting, but instead of monks it’s the Weeknd and Future crooning about their purple drank addictions.
GRIME You’ve seen Stormzy on about three Subway adverts and now it’s time to find out who he is. Get some AJ Tracey and un-Googleable rapper Dave down you to stay ahead of the curve.
TROPICAL GLOOM The new kings of house like Duke Dumont will have you weeping at your desk as their sunny upbeat dance hits remind you of the holiday you’ll never have.


By Lady Leshurr, rapper

VARIOUSMandatory Credit: Photo by Image Broker/REX (2251024a) Pile of dishes in a kitchen, Germany
At your Leshurr.
Lady Leshurr. Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

Tell them to brush their teeth! I’d give someone three chances. If they’re still messing around or being loud too much, not cleaning up or leaving their dirty underwear all over the place, I’d just tell them: “You’re on your bike!” I’m obsessed with salmon, and if I came back and someone had my salmon out of the fridge, I’d go mad. There wouldn’t be no fun and games if you can’t behave when it comes to salmon.


By Owen Todd, secretary of the Viking Society, University of Plymouth

Make sure there’s enough interest in what you’re doing, but no matter how out-there your idea seems, a few people will be into it. And check that the society doesn’t already exist. Try to grab people’s attention. At Freshers’ Fair, we have costumes, swords and walk around campus “hassling” people. As for running the society, I’d say having regular meetings with the committee is a must. If you aren’t all on the same page, things fall apart pretty quickly.


By Nish Kumar, comedian

Nish market: Nish Kumar.
Nish Kumar. Photograph: Martin Godwin/The Guardian

I started doing comedy at university, in the Durham Revue. In 2006 we did a show at the Edinburgh Fringe which one critic described as “not as bad as I’d expected”. This led me to take up stand-up comedy, which is now my job. Here are five tips on getting started as a student.

1. Audition – if there is a group, then great! Go along to auditions. If you don’t get in, go again. Refuse to take a hint.
2. If there isn’t a group, set one up. My friends started a night at a local pub, which is where I did my first standup gig. So if you hate my comedy it’s their fault.
3. Experiment. Feel free to be terrible. Due to the vast quantities of alcohol students consume, no one will remember.
4. Get yourself to the fringe. It’s the best place to learn.
5. DO IT.
Nish Kumar’s Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Unless You Shout The Words Real Loud tour starts 1 Oct


By Tarek and Pete from Spring King

Spring King
Spring King Photograph: Richard Isaac/REX/Shutterstock

Always bribe the judges with alcohol. Once they’ve had a few beers and your guitars are tuned, practice blaming the bass player for anyone else’s mistakes. You’ve got to look the part, so wear tons of leather and be sure to get matching haircuts. If all else fails, learn the arts of distraction and sabotage. Keep puns to a minimum and keep your clothes on. Finish on an Oasis song.

By Theo from Wolf Alice

Solely rely on your bands look. In our Instagram reliant age, your “swag” is elementary. Skechers are a great starting point as they’re a timeless shoe. Some spray on skinnies are another “indie essential”essential. Yellow or red are my legging of choice. Your torso should always be adorned by either a draping faux retro shirt and or band t-shirt (doesn’t matter if you don’t listen to the band you’re representing). Finish the look with a classique Jack Sparrow fedora. This will signify you as a musical era crossing vagabond. If you follow these effective and concise style tips you will be snapped up by every indie A&R for at least a three-month contract.


By Tom Rosenthal, comedian

Tom Rosenthal.
Tom Rosenthal. Photograph: Idil Sukan

Make sure to turn up any music or television you are listening to so your neighbours can enjoy it, too. Likewise, it’s always good to make as much noise when walking around your flat just to let them know you are in; nobody likes to be lonely, after all! If they have pets, take them and house them for a fortnight or so: after grieving over their assumed deaths, they’ll get a wonderful feeling when you give them back. This ideal neighbourly system of entertainment, inspiration and surprise has left many of mine desperate to share it with others by moving out immediately.

Tom performs at Knock2Bag at Rich Mix, Saturday. Details here


By Alexi Duggins, writer

As Rihanna once sang, if you want a cheap night out, you have to “work, work, work, work, work, work”. Or, at least, you have to pretend to. Set up an Insta/Snapchat for culture/food/drink containing a few artsy photos of your dinner, cuppa or pet pug and – hey presto! – you’re in for evenings spent blagging freebie drinks/gig tickets/pointlessly trendy meals of avocado on toast. Soon you’ll be swimming in so much complementary booze that all you’ll be capable of is slurring incomprehensibly. For which, you may also see the lyrics of Rihanna’s Work.


By Daniel Avery, DJ-producer

STOCKMandatory Credit: Photo by Sarah Ginn/PYMCA/REX/Shutterstock (3608813a) Crowd at Fabric nightclub, Farringdon, London STOCK
Daniel Avery
Daniel Avery. Photograph: PR Company Handout

The best advice I ever received on this was: make a club that you and your closest mates would love and consider every minute detail of what that means. Be as niche as you want to be and think small. Work on getting an amazing poster rather than a finding a DJ who can mix. If you make something that is true to you then like-minded people will naturally find it. Don’t worry about appealing to the masses on campus; most of them are idiots who want to roll about to the Baywatch theme tune. If the lads in the pub golf costumes hate it, then you’re probably on to something.


By Luke Holland, writer

The odd apple – as opposed to a Pringle and a fag – will prevent your immune system moving back home to your parents’. Making a brew with a teaspoon so rank it looks like a dog’s foot will make you ill. Use condoms, otherwise STIs will basically cause your personal contemplation area to explode. Oh, and don’t become a daredevil drunk. Imagine your family, weeping before a gravestone that reads: “Died as they lived: acting like an arse.”


By Paris Lees, journalist and presenter

A courting couple of gannets Morus bassanus display gentle affection during the courtship ritual,summer, Bass rock,Scotland,UK,
Paris Lees.
Paris Lees. Photograph: Ryan Harding/Rex

1. Don’t rely on dating apps
Tinder, Happn, Grindr: all great ways to avoid your dissertation, sure, but don’t forget The Real World. You’ve only got a few years to make the most of uni, so save the apps for later. Think of campus as one giant Tinder!

2. Do date someone who cooks
…because date night may be the best meal you get all week. And don’t forget to demonstrate your own value. Throw parties. Decorate your communal space with vibrant colours (and if you take that to mean dyeing your pubic hair lavender, so be it). Basically, be a person that people want to be around, and you’ll never want for admirers.

3. Do be aware of proximity
If you live in a shared house, it’s best not to fall for the person in the room directly beneath yours. If things go wrong between you, you’ll have to spend the next few terms playing Adele to drown out the sound of them having sex with better-looking people. No one wants a year of Adele on full blast. See also: don’t date your housemate’s exes. Seriously, what are you, a masochist?

4. Do be careful sharing photos on phone apps
There isn’t a Snapchat filter on Earth that’ll make you feel better when your private parts end up the subject of a WhatsApp group discussion with the bellends from media studies. You may not care that much now, but spare a thought for future you. Spoiler: Future you is not impressed.

5. Don’t settle down too quickly
Love is lovely, but don’t stress about meeting The One. If you’re ever going to have a wild phase, this is it. Uni is for experimenting and having fun and finding yourself, sometimes in other people’s beds. Just try not to get a disease? They’re called “condoms”.


By Emre Turkmen from Years And Years

Fresh Meat Series 4: Episode 5 - Fresh Meat Series 4: Episode 1 (FULL CAST: Zawe Ashton as Vod, Greg McHugh as Howard, Kimberley Nixon as Josie, Charlotte Ritchie as Oregon, Joe Thomas as Kingsley, Jack Whitehall as J.P.) - Vod, Howard, Kingsley, Josie and JP
Emre Turkmen.
Emre Turkmen. Photograph: Katja Ogrin/Getty

Freshers week is chaos. I didn’t make many friends in the halls I was staying in, I made friends with some people who lived in another halls of residence, so I decided to move to that one with them. For the rest of my time in university they became my best friends and housemates. The only downside was they all happened to be English lit students and I was an architecture student. Two very different endeavours! English students tend to binge-write before deadlines whereas architecture requires constant legwork and concentration. So try to find people to live with who might keep the same hours as you and share the same work ethic. Given how the Tory Baby Boomers have messed up your future, you’re gonna need that 2:1.


By Julie Adenuga, radio presenter

Red Carpet fence pole with red ropes Fashion show event background
G2 FIRST USE British DJ Julie Adenuga, shot at the Guardian Studio on 27/8/15
Julie Adenuga. Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Guardian

I find networking quite cringey. People feel like they need to sell themselves and it’s not about selling yourself. If you bump into whoever – a massive DJ that you’re a fan of – you don’t have to sell themselves to them. We call it bred: a word you say when you’re bredding something; you don’t have to beg to be a part of something. Your confidence in who you are will get you to that place you want to be. It’s about being confident that you’re proficient enough to get what you want and those people around you all the time will see that. But also, be a good representation of yourself. I bump into people and think: “You’re the guy that’s always vomiting outside the club at six o’clock in the morning.” Carrying yourself well, especially as a female, is important. Be everywhere, be comfortable everywhere, and be you everywhere. Don’t go to certain places and feel like you have to put on an image or vibe to fit in. Be cool being who you are.
Julie is on Beats 1/Apple Music, Mon to Thu 8pm


By Anna Fabric, writer

You might not have slept for days and be living off tinned fry-ups but you can still fool the fam that, yes, you are attending even the boring lectures and, no, you haven’t contracted scurvy. Don’t WhatsApp them at 3am. Send emails that are longer than two lines and include a question; feign interest. As long as you get a haircut and hide any unsightly sexual partners before they come to visit, you’ll have no problem convincing them you are a functioning human making excellent life choices.


By Jamie Demetriou, comedian

Cash savings
Jamie Demetriou.
Jamie Demetriou. Photograph: press image

Student jobs can be v v yawn, so here are a few that are v v yeah!:

Cool job Student cookbook writer.
Describe it, yo! Write a funky Cook-B for your fellow studes! Students like it weird and topsy-turvy so bung a couple of left steers in there (feel free to funk up your type styles too!). Examples: ToAzT oN BeAnZ! or CRISPZ & WATER! or ChiCk£n & SweEtcorN & poo sarnie!

Cool job Getting the alcohol out of students’ mouths.
Describe it, yo! Students are paid £40 an hour by the university to steal the alcohol out of their brightest students’ mouths to ensure they stay focused on their subject of study! Eg Maths.

Cool job Cafe.
Describe it, yo! Work in a cafe as a chef or a waiter!!!


By Harriet Gibsone, writer

Learn the local lingo: bus phrases like “single to south square please”. Do the local limbo: when a local walks by, shimmy aggressively to show approval. Don’t wear gratuitous fancy dress in public unless you’re volunteering as the gratuitous local mascot. If you’re sick in a park call the police so locals don’t step on it. Two key sayings regarding student cliches: road signs remain, bog roll belongs. Don’t steal their stuff. Work so hard you pass your degree two years early. Leave.


By Lias Saoudi from Fat White Family

Gig posters on The Jailh
Lias Saoudi of Fat White Family.
Lias Saoudi of Fat White Family. Photograph: Kieran Frost/Redferns

Lower people’s expectations In order to impress your peers sufficiently enough for them to want to “take part” in your “scene”, they must first be convinced of your all-encompassing irrelevance, at which point singing vaguely in tune or being able to organise a “night” suddenly seem like minor miracles. The lower they think of you, the better you are.

Establish a common source of villainy This will encourage people to step beyond the tepid narrative of constructive argument: listening, dialogue, tolerance, etc. These things are old hat. What folks are after now is somewhere convenient to store all of the hatred they can’t quite take out on their families and “loved ones”.

Find a suitably despicable location You’ve spent enough time banging on about the evils of gentrification to know how it works. For those with limited means but cumbersome levels of social ambition, the only option is the colonisation of
some misspent part of town where folks will let you plough your crappy wares for nothing out of sheer boredom. Affordability and integrity walk hand in hand.

Recruit followers For a scene to work, you need a “group” or “team” or “gang”. Should you have the requisite intelligence to bother embarking on this quest in the first place then have faith in your abilities, and that those around you will soak up your vision. You need the hopeless, the washed-up or the utterly naive to be your pawns. The more putty-like their minds, the easier their loyalty is to inspire.

Spread the word Even if your message is rooted in nothing but self-aggrandisement and nihilism, your “scene” must make those who partake in it feel “active’” If that involves throwing a spontaneous street party to celebrate the death of an old woman [as the Fat Whites were pictured doing in 2013 when Margaret Thatcher died], so be it. It’s impossible for people to write about inaction.
Fat White Family play O2 Academy Brixton, SW9, Sat


By Doctors Chris and Xand van Tulleken

Alexi Duggins testing hangover cures. Photograph; Graham Turner.
Drs Chris & Xand van Tulleken.
Drs Chris & Xand van Tulleken. Photograph: David Langan/BBC

The causes of hangovers are poorly understood, despite the number of scientists and doctors that begin the working day with one. There seem to be a few things at work: gastric irritation; the effects of the acetaldehyde (the main breakdown product of alcohol), which is extremely toxic; tiredness. Perhaps least understood is how much alcohol is lovely and soothing for your brain – like it’s having a soak in a nice hot bath with candles and rose petals. Because it’s relaxing in the booze, your brain seems to make a lot less of the chemicals that it usually makes to help soothe itself. This is a problem, because when the alcohol goes away, it’s like you’re suddenly taken out of a hot bath and plunged into a freezing lake of sewage. There’s none of those nice calming neurotransmitters around. They’re taking a break. All the sweaty, anxious, paranoid, palpitations, dry mouth dry eyes stuff – that’s probably all happening in your brain. It’s not dehydration. Unless you did a lot of dancing. So by all means have a pint of squash and take some painkillers, but what you really need for your jangled brain is pleasure. Sex, food, TV, or ideally a combination of all three. Ideally in large quantities.
The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs’ Fronted by Chris van Tulleken airs Thursday, 9pm BBC1


By a selection of top UK standups

fridge note
Blank TO DO post-it note on a red fridge door
Photograph: mrPliskin/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Elis James
Hey!!! For some reason people think leaving notes in the kitchen is passive aggressive, so I just wanted you to know that taking food from the fridge you definitely haven’t paid for is totally fine!!!

Ivo Graham
Dearest housemates,

Enjoying your young romantic lives is all well and good, but if it could be a little bit more of the whispering missionaries and a little bit less of the barking dogs, that would be greatly appreciated over on this side of the wall.

Yours jealously, Ivo.

Dane Baptiste
GENERAL MESSAGE TO HOUSEMATES NOTICE: As well as enjoying my orange juice without bits, I also enjoy crushing horse laxatives into my drinks as a theft deterrent. But you’ll learn that soon enough. Enjoy.

Joel Dommett
To the person who keeps stealing my passive aggressive fridge notes – please continue to do so because I bloody love writing passive aggressive fridge notes.

Joel Dommett is touring to 11 Nov; The Elis James & John Robins Experience is touring to 14th Nov; Dane Baptiste is touring to 11 Mar; Ivo Graham is touring to 18 Nov


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