Student Blog

Your parents are used to saving you. Call them!

Your parents are used to saving you. Call them!

Being at University means being independent, sort of

University is supposed to be a time to fly the nest and grow into the independent adult that your parents are proud of. While that’s sort of happening, the image you had in your head of cooking three balanced meals a day from scratch and running your own household is probably slightly detached from the reality.

While we’re building up to that stage of adulthood, our parents are just a phone call away and well equipped to deal with the barrage of questions that come with moving out from home. So here I present the definitive list of things it is still perfectly acceptable to call and ask your parents about, complete with answers if you feel bad about calling them for the 8th time that week.


Your parents cooked and fed you for 18 years, so they have a lot more experience in this than you. Calling to ask them for cooking advice is perfectly acceptable and probably more effective than watching that 13th video of Gordon Ramsey yelling at a chef. You’re just using the resources at your disposal!

A list of acceptable questions includes, but is not limited to:

Q: Can I eat rare chicken/should chicken be pink?

A: No, to both. Don’t eat under-cooked chicken.

Q: Can you reheat *insert food here*? (rice is a common one)

A: Yes, but only reheat food once, and make sure it’s really hot all the way through.

Q: Will *insert questionably old/uncooked/strange smelling food here* give me food poisoning?

A: if you need to ask, then probably, yes.

General House Maintenance

As with cooking, your parents have been running their house for a lot longer than you and have probably picked up tips and tricks to be imparted.

Q: What is a fuse box and where can I find it?

A: A fuse box is like a control panel for the circuits in the house. Faulty appliances or wiring mean a circuit will sometimes trip and outlets/lights on that circuit will stop working. This can be fixed by flipping the switch in the fuse box related to that circuit. The location varies between houses, but under the stairs or near the boiler are common hiding spots.

Q: How do I get rid of mould?

A: Student houses are notorious for growing mould. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to prevent damp and mould. You can buy special mould cleaner to kill and remove it safely. If you’re on a budget, this can be done with a solution of bleach and warm water.

There’s more info on preventing mould, here.

Q: How do I fix a boiler?

A: There are a couple of things that you can fix yourself, like checking the pressure and making sure it’s turned on. But it’s probably best to report a serious fault to your agent/landlord. Lots of things can go wrong with a boiler and you don’t want to cause a gas leak.

You can find a 6-point check list for solving basic boiler problems, here.


The laundry fairy at home that seemed to empty to your hamper and replace it with a pile of clean, folded clothes 2 days later seems not to have followed you to University.

Q: What’s the difference between bio and non-bio washing powder?

A: Biological powder contains enzymes that help to remove stains, you can use this at lower temperatures. Non-biological powder doesn’t contain these enzymes, so you need to wash at a higher temperature but it’s not as irritating for sensitive skin.

Q: Where does the laundry detergent go?

A: As a general rule, if you’re using powder, tablets or capsules they should go in the drum, so they can dissolve effectively. If you’re using liquid detergent it can go in the drawer. However, it’s always worth checking the instructions on the packet.

Q: Do I need fabric softener?

A: In short, no. But if you want your clothes to smell nice or feel that bit cosier, then go ahead.


Q: Why has the dishwasher stopped cleaning my plates properly?

A: You probably need to add rinse aid and / or salts. Unlike the actual detergent tablet, these take longer to deplete. Refills are really cheap to buy and will take several months to run out. If it’s stopped cleaning stuff and started smelling nasty, it sounds like you need to clean the filters.

University is about growth; you’re still growing into that chef/repairman/fully functioning adult. That growth process is always aided by the occasional (or frequent) call to your parents. In between calling them to ask how to unburn food or turn off a smoke alarm, maybe call just to say hi and tell them you love them for answering all your questions and always being there.

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