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Being an adult – what does that even mean?!

“So, how do you work this thing”, I thought looking at the washing machines in my college laundry room. I had absolutely no idea which compartment the detergent went in, how much was necessary and who even knew that softener was a thing?! I ended up just calling my mum and having her talk me through it. That was just one of the many new things I had to learn about being an adult when I moved to Durham, from cooking, doing laundry and ironing to paying bills. Here are some of my tips:


Josephine Butler is one of the self-catered colleges at Durham, meaning I had to learn to cook well for myself quite early. Up until university, my repertoire of dishes consisted of beans on toast and scrambled eggs. Even if you’ve cooked before, having to make all three meals for yourself can feel like a big step. I’d definitely recommend starting off with something simple – one-pot meals are great and have the bonus of less washing up. My go-to meal at uni, especially in my first year, was Jamie Oliver’s veggie chili – easy to prepare, very filling and super cheap to make. I was also a big fan of meal planning – it doesn’t have to be elaborate but knowing what meals you’re having makes a big difference in terms of time management and grocery shopping. Prepping your meals the night before can also be a great tip and helps you to get a few extra minutes in bed before your lectures – for example, make overnight oats for breakfast or making your sandwiches for lunch.

Make an extra portion to freeze

I always like to keep some kind of frozen or ready-to-eat meal like a frozen pizza or fish fingers for the days when you can’t be bothered to make something to eat – it came in handy after many late-night study sessions. Making larger quantities of your meals and freezing a container is also a great way to prepare for more stressful periods like exams. Sometimes it can feel a bit much trying to manage all these tasks on top of your intense studying so it’s little things like this that help to ease the stress.


Cleaning in college is generally not a huge task, thanks to the amazing work of the housekeeping team. However, maintaining a clean kitchen throughout the week is not always an easy task in a shared kitchen. A good starter set of cleaning tools include multi-purpose wipes, sponges, fairy liquid, steel wool and a cleaning spray. In terms of splitting the cleaning responsibilities in a flat/household, open communication is really important. A useful tip is for different people to take responsibility for different areas of the house or different tasks. Allocating a day for cleaning or doing laundry is great in making sure you get these tasks done – I usually chose the day I had the least amount of contact time so I could focus on getting it done. It’s also extremely important to remember to respect other people’s personal boundaries and make sure that yours are being respected too! Dirty dishes are often a point of contention so be clear about your preferences – it might be scary but as long as your nice about it, most people will respect it.

While it’s great to have a few skills up your sleeve, remember that the whole university experience is there for you to grow as an adult. Everyone is learning new things so don’t be scared to ask others for help.

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Leena Munsoor

Hi everyone - my name is Leena. I studied Law at Durham from 2017 to 2020 and belonged to Josephine Butler College. I’ll be talking to you about cooking, cleaning, been an adult while studying. I was involved in volunteering, charity work and art societies.
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