If your son, daughter or partner is heading off to university this September, you might want to think about giving them a parting gift. Indeed, having something that they can remember you by when they’re miles away from home can help to reduce homesickness and help them settle in.

Below, we’ve put together some of the best gift ideas to consider; let us know what you think!


A forever rose

If you’re looking for a unique and unusual gift that your daughter or girlfriend will love, then consider a forever rose from Notta & Belle.

These handmade roses, perfect for girls and women, make for a stunning gift and will look great in any bedroom, study or student dormitory.

The best part about this gift is that these roles are kept in a glass dome and will last for at least five years. Thanks to special processing technology, these roses don’t need to be watered and can live anywhere, provided they’re not placed directly in the sun.

What’s more, the rose is not in a vacuum, but rather in a dome, meaning it can be removed to be touched. Available in 18 colours and three sizes, you’re bound to find a forever rose that will last the whole of university.


A photo frame

Another way that you can show your loved ones that you care about them is through a photo frame.

Sure, we all have an Instagram account and we FaceTime our friends and family wherever we end up, but having a physical photo frame can make a room feel more personal and give your loved one something to look at when they’re stressed with exams or coursework.

Of course, you could consider a digital photo frame, that will change and show off a variety of shots, or you could create a montage of your favourite images and put them together in one single frame.

If your girlfriend or boyfriend is off to university, then you could even buy them a cushion with your face on, so that they have something to cuddle when they’re missing you.


A gift voucher

Being a student doesn’t come cheap.

Yes, student loans are great and let young people relax for the first few months of their course, but daily living costs for groceries and eating out can be expensive. If you want to ensure your loved one doesn’t have to worry about their weekly food shop, then you could buy them a gift voucher for a local supermarket to help them stock up.

Alternatively, you could top-up a prepaid credit card to give your loved one the funds they need to have a good night out in town. Facebook Messenger and Apple iMessage also allow you to send payments in seconds, so the chances are you won’t even need a credit card to treat them!


Are you treating your loved one to something special before they head off to uni? Whatever you buy, make sure it’s something personable or useful, and remember that they will likely have limited space in their student accommodation, so be very sensible when purchasing large items.

THE recent increase of online dating sites and rise in people using them poses the question: Is online dating taking over from traditional dating?

Dating sites and apps such as match.comTindergrindr and many more seem to be taking over traditions that many of us are used to.

Online dating and the idea of ‘social media love’ causes a conflict of opinions between many people.

Some welcome this change for the better seeing no problem with and thinking that it is a positive thing for society.

But this is contrasted by others who can not get past the idea of meeting someone online because they fear that it is impossible to really get to know someone that way.

Jack Franks, 22, from Durham met his partner Niamh Donnelly on Tinder. They have been together for more than a year.

He believes that with the technology we have these days online dating is taking over traditional dating.

“I think people might prefer first to meet online and then go on a date,” He said.

“There are very few people who meet in public and start a relationship that way.”

Although he met Niamh online he thinks this increase is a bad thing.

He said: “I don’t know how you can gauge what someone is like over the internet, how can you know what someone is like through text?”

“If you meet someone in person you instantly know because you get a little vibe.”

Like Jack, Natasha Ashby, 19, from Stockton, met her partner Ben Forth online.

She joined Tinder only a couple of months before meeting Ben.

At first she went on looking for a bit of fun after getting out of a long term relationship.

One thing led to another and nearly a year later the pair are still together.

Online dating opens the door for people to pretend to be someone there not.

It can be a way of making themselves look and sound better to get attention.

Natasha said: “One of my friends was getting on really well with a girl.”

“He thought she was extremely pretty – even model material.

But when he turned up to meet her she was nothing like he expected and had to carry on with the date until the end despite feeling no attraction for her.”

Although society is becoming more accepting of online dating many people still feel that they cannot truthfully share where they met there partners.

In the UK one in five relationships starts online but 81% of people lie about their age; height; figure and weight.

Daisy Best, Principle Lecturer of Psychology at Teesside University believes there could be a number of reasons people lie about their physical attributes.

“It is likely that the self-worth of the individual who has lied is relatively low if they feel unable to honestly disclose who they really are,” She said.

“It may be that life experiences have taught them that they will not be accepted if they are to present as themselves so believe that they need to present in another way in order to be accepted.

“They may wish to attract a certain type of person who they believe will only be attracted to them if they fit certain attributes.”

Daisy thinks the risk of meeting someone who  could be potentially lying is the individual’s choice.

She said: “Of course there are risks that people will be dishonest or have ulterior motives but these risks can be present online or offline.”

“Some people have found their soul mates through online dating and others have been significantly harmed.

“I think this reflects the continuum of relationships both online and beyond.

“We have to make our own choices in regard to whether online dating sites are okay or not, with awareness and respect for what we want from this encounter and the ability to recognise and value our own needs; feelings and safety throughout the process.”

What are your thoughts and views about on-line dating, would you take the risk?

The United Kingdom is fast experiencing a surge in the number of marriages and relationships across ethnic divides – according to latest official figures.

Mixed race is an ethnic category that has been used by the United Kingdom’s office for National statistics since 1991 census which colloquially refers to British citizens or residents who are married to people of different ethnic background or people whose  parents are of different race.

New analysis of the census figures shows that the number of people in England and Wales living with or married to someone from another ethnic group has jumped to 2.3 million with an increase of about 35 percent in the last 10 years.

According to a report in The Independent newspaper, one in 10 relationships in UK now cross racial boundaries thereby making the country one of the fastest growing mixed race societies in the world.

The expansion of the EU in 2004 has also contributed to this development. Reports say that the common inter-ethnic relationships today is between people who are white British and a country like Poland. These make up 16 percent of the entire mixed race population.

The prejudice are fading gradually even in major cities like London, Manchester and Birmingham, recording the highest population of mixed race couples. It is common place in such cities that inter-racial couples will no longer catch your eyes as different.

Perceptions and prejudice continues to fizzle even in some parts of Africa. Under the apartheid regime in South Africa, inter- racial marriages and relationships were banned but today it has become a normal practice in the society.

Celebrities such as Jessica Ennis the Olympic star, Lewis Hamilton and Leona Lewis, the British got talent Alesha Dixon are all changing the perceptions on mixed race marriages and relationships in UK.

However, there are things to worry about when getting involved in inter-ethnic marriages or relationships.

In an interview with Benjamin Eamo, a Doctoral student in Sociology, he pointed out “that mixed race relationship is something one has to really think about before going into because of the cultural divide”.

Mr Eamo said: “It demands more effort because people involved will be struggling to adjust or live up to the culture and orientation of his spouse which sometimes creates a kind of cultural friction leading to issues in such marriages and relationships”.

However, Raymond Oliver,  who has been married to his wife from Africa for up to 15 years,  has a different view.

He said: “There is no difference if you marry from any part of the world that the most important thing is compatibility of the couple”.

A marriage councillor Dr Ken Duru notes that the success or failure of relationships is not determined by ethnic, social or other factors, rather it is determined by the individuals in the relationship.

Their ability to tolerate each others excesses because owing to the fact that no one is perfect is what that will determine the Fate of their relationship.

The Early Learning Centre has been criticised recently in a sexism row over an advertising campaign showing girls dressed as princesses and boys as doctors.

The Early Learning Centre was accused of unfair ‘gender stereotyping’ when showcasing the store’s fancy dress range.

As well as this there is another sexist advertising campaign in the toy section of their website where the girls are modelling with  dolls houses while the boys model with the Bosch tools and cars.

Diane Levin, Ph.D, a Professor of Education at Wheelock College,  said: “Preschoolers pick up gender clues from older siblings, teachers, and, perhaps most insidiously, the media.”

“The action figures for boys advertised on TV and seen in TV shows almost invariably have big muscles and are depicted as powerful and active.

“The dolls marketed to girls are pretty, sweet, and sexy. Preschoolers are drawn to these extremes.”

In addition research by Welsh organisation, Chwarae Teg shows that children already have very clear ideas about the jobs that are suitable for boys and girls.

Girls toys are based around glamour and beauty which put a worrying emphasis on outward appearance.

Stereotyped attitudes about boys are equally harmful.

The constant assumption reinforced in toy advertising and packaging that boys are inevitably rough, dirty, rowdy, interested only in action and violence tells calmer, more sensitive or more creative boys that they’re getting this whole ‘boy’ thing a bit wrong, and feeds low expectations of boys that undermine their performance at school.

This is why it is important for retailers to not advertise a product for a specific gender.

They are subconsciously showing children are supposed to act which is then reinforced by their old siblings and parents.

The Let Toys be Toys website was set up to change attitudes towards gender stereotyping.

A spokesperson for Let Toys be Toys said: “Play is absolutely fundamental to children’s learning and development, and putting limits on what kind of play is permitted is putting limits on children’s development.”

“More than ever, toys and games are marketed as being ‘for’ one gender or the other – dolls and ovens are for girls and trucks and construction toys are for boys.“They’re trying to learn how to be a grown-up, and ‘Boys don’t play with dolls’ will be understood by them in just the same way as ‘Hitting is wrong’ – they can’t understand the difference between those kinds of social rules.

“Even things like colouring books are promoted as being for one gender or the other and feature completely different content.

” We all know that men can cook and women can drive – and yet we seem determined to keep these facts from our children.

“When we give boys the idea that they’re not to play with dolls or dressing up we’re taking away opportunities to develop their abilities to nurture, empathise and be creative.

“Failing to offer girls chances to build and construct means they miss out the chance to hone their spatial skills and build and reinforce the stereotype that girls are weaker in technical subjects.”

Most parents  I spoke to think that boys and girls should play with anything they want with only one person saying that boys should play with cars.

One parent said: “stereotyping happens because of society’s influence and teachings of what’s considered as the “norm” for each gender.”

“Most parents, however, think that gender stereotyping happens because of old traditional values that have been passed through generations.

“In the toy industry, it is boys that are demonised. It is starting to become normal to see girls in male-dominated professions but it is not the same for boys.”

The Let Toys Be Toys spokesperson said: “Why has the label “tomboy” lost its ability to insult but “sissy” hasn’t?”

“Why does the sight of a boy playing with a baby doll bring forth a range of indignant complaints of the “It’s political correctness gone mad!”

The Let Toys Be Toys website has now produced a Let Books Be Books campaign where it asked children’s publishers to take the ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ labels off books and allow children the real free choice in the kinds of stories and activity books that interest them.

The campaign has had success with publishers and retailers like Usborne , Parragon, and Paperchase, and seen support from prominent authors.

They have done this because research showed that 18% of boys and 12% of girls think that reading is more for girls than boys, while 19% of boys said they would be embarrassed if their friends saw them reading.

Many people fantasise about meeting that one person who can always tell exactly what you need, when you need it, but is marrying your best friend really all it’s cracked up to be?

If you met them during university, there’s no doubt that they’ve seen you at your worst, your best, and let’s face it – every possible stage in between.

Whether you’re bawling your eyes out an hour before a deadline, or passed out drunk on a football pitch, they can field your mood swings like a pro.

Nobody knows you better, and you both know it.

You could have met them a few months ago, or you could have known them your entire life, either way, the moment your best friend entered your life, things have never been the same.

But is that enough?

Though the idea of marrying your best friend is nothing short of a fairy-tale to some, it’s also become a bit of a clichéd idea – one that is constantly exploited throughout social media to the point where it no longer means what it used to.

I don’t know about you, but my Facebook feed is filled to the brim on the daily with pictures of couples gushing “I get to marry my best friend.”

Despite this being a charming concept, it’s still questionable whether or not these people are actually marrying their best friends or just want to be included within the clichéd subculture created by people who feel the whole world needs to know about their infatuation with their partner.

This insane need for the approval of people we barely know, this need to boast about how good our relationship is, is the main reason for “marrying your best friend” becoming as big of a cliché as it is.

People are no longer marrying for love as they once were, but are now marrying for the security that comes with being with someone who knows you better than you know yourself, essentially someone who can look after you.

Katherine, 22, says of her six-year relationship that the only theoretical downside to marrying the man who was her best friend of eight years before they dated would be that “he knows me too well, sometimes we run out of things to talk about.” If only that were the problem we all had.

Mike, 26, has been married for two years, but his outlook on things is that because his wife was his best friend at university before they were married, they are closer now than before, and it has “maybe even kept us together in the rough periods.”

Of course, this could be more to do with the fact that marriages are more likely to end in divorce by their 20th Anniversary, which people who are in their early to mid-twenties haven’t actually reached yet.

There are case studies that suggest that it is beneficial to marry your best friend, for instance, Dr’s Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz – considered to be “America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts” have discovered over a 30 year research period that: “Loving someone is not enough. If your partner is not your best friend, your relationship will not pass the test of time.”

The Dr’s Schmitz suggest that: “Best friends provide each other with total trust, loyalty, mutual respect, admiration, encouragement, support, care and much more.” All things that are pivotal if one desires a successful marriage.

As a rebuttal, there are of course people who believe you don’t need to be best friends with your significant other to have a successful relationship.

Monica Mendez Leahy, an experienced marriage counsellor does indeed claim that what she calls the ‘Friendship Factor’ is at the root of all long-lasting, happy marriages.

However, she said: “If a couple strives to be best friends, they’re aiming too low. The relationship between spouses is special, sacred even.”

So to Leahy, best friends are too lax in their attitudes towards their relationship with their partner, and they need to aim higher.

But really, despite the fact that marriages seem to end in divorce more often than not, it seems to be a unanimous point that there needs to be friendship within a marriage to work.

Whether you want to call it the ‘Friendship Factor’ or just know you were besties before one of you popped the question, you should probably like your partner as a person before you decide you want to spend your life with them.

“How do you spot a Goth?” the joke starts.

“They’ll swear they’re not a Goth,” is the punchline.

The logic of the witch dunking trials applied: You were damned if you were and damned if you weren’t (and probably a fan of The Damned either way).

A lot of people distance themselves from the label of ‘Goth’.

The Goth scene emerged from the artsy side of post-punk in the 80s, when groups used to dress up in defining features such as big, backcombed hair, heavy eyeliner and lots of black clothing.

This is what is now known as the trad Goth, it was an easy cultural identifier.

But over time the style changed, so that new sub-genres of Goth emerged, such as Cybergoth, Industrial Goth, Nu Goth.

The list goes on and on, so the distinctions between them became so blurred to the untrained eye, that people even have difficulty identifying what is Punk, Goth or Emo.

When something is new or people don’t understand it, the first reaction is often to fear it and this could spark negative reactions.

I personally have been on the receiving end of subculture hate.

Only recently I was confronted by a group of teenage boys in tracksuits hell-bent on causing trouble, shouting things like “You look dead!” and “It’s not Halloween yet” at me.

In cases like this it’s easy to just ignore them and walk away without even batting an eyelid, I have become so accustomed to attitudes like this.

But what would happen if they intended to cause physical harm?

In 2007, a boy called Robert Maltby was brutally assaulted for his Goth fashion choices.

His Goth girlfriend Sophie Lancaster, begged the attackers to stop so they turned on her.

Rob managed to recover, but Sophie died from her injuries.

The Sophie Lancaster Foundation‘ was set up to raise awareness of subculture abuse.

This caused some police forces to take action, recognising the issues as hate crimes.

Laws in England currently have five categories for hate crimes: disability, gender identity, race, religion and sexual orientation.

However, regional forces are allowed to add their own as they see fit.

Subculture abuse was accepted as a hate crime by up to nine police forces in the previous years since the Sophie Lancaster Foundation was set up.

Kate Conboy, Partnership and Development Manager for The Sophie Lancaster Foundation said: “We know that the prejudice faced by people who are alternative is still a huge issue for many, especially young people in school and small communities.”

“We have worked hard for 10 years almost to raise awareness and have a far reach which has been heard by many professionals who can influence change.

“Sylvia Lancaster was awarded an OBE for her work in ‘Community Cohesion – especially in reduction of hate crime’ and she has been an advisor to the government for over 6 years now.

“We feel that it is all about education.

“We work in schools, train primary and secondary teachers, youth workers and the police.

“Raising awareness and challenging prejudice or stereotyping has been an important part of our work and our supporters also do the same.

“We regularly hear from people who say things have gotten better and they feel more accepted.”

If the police are beginning to view Goths and other alternative cultures as victims rather than perpetrators then that can only be a positive step.

Aside from a couple of Whitby weekenders a year, Goths seldom gather in large enough numbers to defend themselves, making them an easy target.

However, the decision to equate subculture with sexual orientation, colour, or religion has provoked some criticism over what is essentially a fashion choice.

People often say, “Why can’t you just change the way you look?”

It’s the simplest solution to the problem of harassment that faces anyone in the Goth subculture.

Imagine spending years being subjected to abuse from complete strangers.

Imagine getting used to the anxiety of using public transport, walking past a busy pub, or even just going to town.

But, is changing your appearance the best defence?

Should we accept that the fault is our own for how we look?

That if we were more like everyone else – like the people who think it’s appropriate to threaten and mock us for not being like them, then we would be more accepted?

As you can imagine, the temptation hasn’t quite seized me.

I believe the debate can be brought down to a simple concept: Is this person in danger because of how they appear?

If so, it’s a motivated attack and should be considered a hate crime.

However, there is still not enough awareness because problems are still occurring.

19-year-old student Eric Vincent Knebel has been into the Goth lifestyle for around four years.

He said: “In the last two years I received a lot of hate and intolerance from people who say things like I must be a drug addict.”

“It happens a lot in the school where I am now, in some cases it really affected my grade in specific subjects.

“Even teachers don’t care about subcultures and don’t do anything to stop abuse.

“They just say ‘Then don’t style yourself like that’, but I’m never going to change the way I dress.

“After a certain amount of time you get used to the looks and bad comments and begin to ignore it.

In more accepting, modern times where racism, homophobia and other forms of hate are looked at with disgust, all forms of hate should be on the same level of severity.

From Emo kids to Metalheads, people should be free to express individuality without fear.

Hopefully, in the future we see more police forces taking action to end the hate crimes, I hope for a brighter future for the Goth subculture (excluding the clothing of course!).

It’s that time of year again, where most people are booking their summer holidays.

But, for us students, this is the time where we sacrifice food for a week in the sun somewhere.

Holidays and students don’t mix. Most holidays can be very costly and for us students, this is simply not an option.

Most students enjoy a cheap week away in Zante or Magaluf but this can still come up a bit pricey, when you think that you need to feed yourself for an entire week

This is where city breaks come in.

City Breaks don’t seem to sound as good as a week away in Zante but, a weekend away in Amsterdam can prove to be a more exciting than a week on a  Greek isle.

You could even go on two possibly three city breaks for the price of one summer holiday, if you book with the right people at the right time.

  • Krakow (Poland) is a very cool, calm and collective city. The huge, open, Old Market Town Square offers an impressive display of bars, restaurants and shops. The has an array of, parks, shopping centres and beauty spots. Student favourite and a personal favourite of mine, is the Wodkabar, situated just off the Old Market Square. Major tourism spots such as Auschwitz and Birkenau and Schindler’s Factory cost as little as £20 (student I.D must be present), with transport included. Meals and Drinks at hot spots such as, The Hard Rock Café come in at £15 per person. One way flights start from £40.00 per person.
  • Budapest (Hungary) is defiantly one of the cheapest cities. You can get some incredibly cheap deals on hotels that are right in the heart of the city. Why not visit the castle? With the national gallery close by, it’s a great way to spend a day. In the evening why not try the world famous Geothermal baths, they are most defiantly worth a visit and price start from only £15! Even just to see the unbelievable architecture and design of the buildings and outside areas. Budapest is littered with different free museums, perfect for gaining knowledge or killing a bit of time! Flights and accommodation are coming in at £150 per person for three nights.
  • Barcelona (Spain) is the place to go to if you are longing for the beach  intertwined with city streets. The beauty of this is city is that you can live the city and beach life. The streets of Barcelona are truly stunning, with local tourist hot spot Las Ramblas in the heart of the city, it’s a must visit. You can stock up on cheap, local, delicacies from the exquisite La Boqueria Market. Tourist hot spots include; Barcelona Catherdal, Sagrada Famillia and Camp Nou. With central Hotels starting at £55 per night-it would be rude not too!
  • Amsterdam (Netherlands)  is one of the most picturesque places in Europe. The combination of the busy city and the stunning canals makes this city so unique. The city has a very young culture and is the perfect sweet spot for students. Tourist hot spots include, Anne Franks House, Canal rides and Rijksmuseum. The Anne Frank museum costs nine Euros.  Some places can be expensive within the city, but what city isn’t expensive? The local delicatessens are the beauty of Amsterdam, you can fill up on the beautiful patisseries from as little as a Euro! You can also save a lot of money on transport by getting the Ferry. Prices start from £70 for two people.
  • Prague (Czech Republic) is a wonderful city to enjoy a long weekend away. Similar to Krakow with it’s Old Town Square, Prague has a wonderful array of cheap bars and restaurants, perfect for all students!  Tourist hot spots include, Prague Castle, The old Jewish Synagogue and the Powder Tower. Again, cities like Prague have a whole host of museums, most of them being free or with a small admission free. Flights start from£54 and central hotels, including breakfast, are coming up at £56 per night, per person!

Top tip for students looking for cheap travel to any of these places- look on Skyscanner.net! The home of all the cheap flights.

So, why not a try a few of these amazing city breaks this summer?

Malaysia located in the continent of Asia where it  covers 328,657 square kilometers of land and 1,190 square kilometers of water, making it the 67th largest nation in the world with a total area of 329,847 square kilometers.

Malaysia is a gastronomic delight with a wide variety of foods and dishes. With citizens from three large ethnic groups namely  Malay, Chinese and Indian, each ethnic has their own food with mix of flavours and outstanding recipes.

Malay Food, Chinese Food, Indian Food and Thai food are all common in Malaysia. Each ethnic group tends to eat foods associated with their group.

Eating out is very common in Malaysia.  The biggest part of the citizens seldom cooks at home. The main reason is that eating out is generally cheaper than buying ingredients at the supermarket and cooking your own dishes. Another reason is that eating outside is part of the Malaysian (and other Asian) culture, there is no better place to get in touch with friends and relatives than during a delicious meal.

Most dishes in Malaysia are either based on rice or noodles.

Malay dishes often contains beef, chicken, mutton or fish; but never pork as Malay food needs to be halal.

Chinese dishes often contains pork.

Indian dishes are often vegetarian; and they never contain beef (though Indians do eat chicken, mutton and fish). Most dishes will be served with some vegetables; either mixed through the dish or served as a side dish.

In Malaysia, you can see hawkers of many different populations right next to each other. This means you can buy Malay food, Chinese food, Indian food and sometimes even western dishes all in the same food court.

Mamak ( Indian Muslims) stalls tend to be popular among Malaysian youth as spots to chill, mainly due to the cheap food and beverages being served 24/7. People of all races, religions and ages frequent Mamak stalls to get-together while enjoying a cup of hot teh tarik (Hot Tea). The quality of the food is very high in Malaysia, mainly because food is prepared fresh before your eyes.

In an attempt to stub out the addiction of smoking new tobacco laws have being gradually filtered into UK society throughout the course of the last year.

As of May 2017, any companies not abiding by these laws could be subject to large fines or worse.

But in an age that promotes equality and freedom of expression, are these Government laws just persecuting a minority? Has this whole thing gone too far?

For many people, having a smoke is as important as the other necessities of life, such as sleeping and eating.

As hard as it may be for non-smokers to understand, most smokers have a love-hate relationship with their habit.Eat, sleep, smoke, repeat, right?

There’s no doubt it’s an addiction, but is it an addiction some people are happy to have?

One of the major changes coming to the UK is the introduction of standardised packaging.

No longer will big brands such as Marlboro offer a range of colourful cigarette boxes.

Instead, all cigarette boxes will be sold in the same colour, known as ‘opaque couche’, a muddy green which has been described as the world’s ugliest colour.

Why? Because the Government’s main aim is to cut the number of people taking up smoking by making it less appealing to children and young people.

According to Cancer Research, two-thirds of smokers start before the age of 18 – the beginning of an addiction which will kill up to two in three long-term smokers.

Whether or not the new law will work remains to be seen, but think about it this way…

From hiding behind the bike sheds at school, trying not to cough as one of the Year 11 kids offered you your first ‘one off’, to hastily spraying your hands with cheap deodorant to stop your parents sniffing out your bad habit.

At that age we are all aware of the bad stigma around smoking, and we know it’s wrong. So we must think, if that cigarette we were offered had come from plain packaging, would we have refused it?

It’s been 13 years since smoking was banned inside public places, which is fair enough.

I mean, smoking is a choice, you shouldn’t be forced to sit amidst other people’s smoke and bad habits. In turn, outside smoking areas have become a breeding ground for social interaction.

Some of the best nights out evolve around been sat on the alcohol swilled pavement outside a club talking to your new best friend for two hours.  I would never have met my wife-to-be if it wasn’t for a chance-happening like this.

But how are these newer changes affecting adult smokers? Many of whom enjoy the pleasure of a social smoke, whether it be in the comfort of their own home or a busy pub’s smoking area?

From now on, smokers will only be able to purchase a 30g pouch of tobacco at least, and ten packs will be taken off the market completely. In many people’s eyes, this will result in them smoking and spending more.

Of course, every argument has two opposing sides, so I contacted some of the UK’s leading smoking organisations.

Amanda Sandford of ASH, (action on smoking and health), said: “ASH is anti-smoking but not anti-smoker. We sympathise with smokers who regret ever starting and wish to stop smoking.”

“We believe that the Government has a duty to do all it can to help smokers to quit and to discourage young people from ever starting.

“It also makes economic sense as smoking imposes a huge cost burden on society.”

ASH‘s website supports this statement, not only does smoking remain one of the biggest causes of preventable death in the UK, but it also costs the NHS an estimated 2 billion pounds a year.

However, this still doesn’t seem to stop people from picking up a cigarette. There’s no wonder there’s such a high death toll, with approximately 1.1 billion smokers in the world, and 4000 chemicals per cigarette, well, you do the maths!

Simon Clarke, director of the pro-smokers group Forest, said: “Standardised packaging is incredibly patronising.”

“It treats adults like children and children like idiots. It’s an attempt to denormalise a legal product and, by association, the consumer, the overwhelming majority of whom are well aware of the health risks of smoking.”

“The suggestion that people start smoking because they’re attracted by the packaging is not born out by evidence. The reason most people start is because of peer pressure or the influence of close family members.

“Standardised packaging is a major attack on the consumer. It will almost certainly fuel illicit trade across Europe because consumers will be driven to buy the cheapest brands, including counterfeit cigarettes.”

Well, there we have it. It’s been proven that 100% of people that smoke die, yet it’s also been proven that 100% of people that don’t smoke die too. The choice is yours, or is it?

Moving into student halls or student accommodation can be tough, especially if you don’t know anyone on campus and you’re shy. The good news is that there are lots of ways to make new friends and get to know your housemates, and below we’ve rounded up some of the very best options.

Prepare a meal

One of the simplest and most exciting ideas is to prepare a meal with your new housemates. Set a budget, all throw in £5, and then head to the supermarket together to do some shopping. Once you’re back, you can decide who’s going to do what, and then sit down and enjoy your meal together. Simple and effective.

Go for a night out

The chances are that you’ll be wanting to spend a lot of your free time going to the pub or the club, so bring along your flatmates so that you can get to know each other a little better. The best part is, once you’ve had enough and want to get back to your student digs, you’ll have someone to walk back with! Win-win.

Join a society

University societies can be great fun and give you a chance to make new friends, so ask your flatmates whether they’re interested in signing up for one together. You don’t necessarily have to stick it out and attend every week, but going along to a couple of beginner’s sessions can give you some ideas as to whether or not it’s right.

Make a joint bucket list

Meeting new people that you’re going to be living with can be awkward, but as soon as you’ve got to know each other and your traits, it’ll become a whole lot more simple. Consider making a bucket list, where you all pitch in an idea or two of things you’d like to get up to before the end of the term. That could include going to a local karaoke night, making your own homemade curry, finding a girlfriend/boyfriend, or simply going for a road trip.

Decorate together

If you’re not happy with the communal spaces in your new shared accommodation, then consider asking everyone to get involved in a decorating session. Paint and pizza parties are a great idea – you order a couple of pizzas and buy a few tins of paint, and within no time at all, you’ll have painted your house and have bonded.

There you have it – five simple ways to bond with your new housemates. Give these ideas a go and see where they take you,  and you might just be surprised by the results!