A student's financial stability can be a flimsy gossamer of uncertainties and hypotheticals; you are fortunate enough to be studying for a degree, but you struggle to pay bills. You are on the path to your dream career, but you are racking up unthinkable debt in the process. You have £3,000 in student loan payments arriving soon, but you have eaten nothing but porridge for the last six days.
This numeric tightrope grows thinner still when you study in central London, where rented accommodation can cost almost double the national average and everything from taxis to groceries cost more, despite sharing the same minimum wage as the rest of the country.
Being poor at university offers many life lessons- some of the best memories that you will ever make will be fueled by discounted bottles of wine and funded with coins that you find behind the sofa cushions. It is definitely fair to say that there is a genuine romanticism to the broke student life.
Sustaining yourself for a week on a loaf of bread and an array of stolen condiment sachets is nothing if not character building, but - all romance aside - it is unrealistic to survive for three years on the cusp of bankruptcy.
It is without doubt that struggling financially has a detrimental impact upon your physical and mental health and as a result, your studies. There is no point on living in poverty throughout your degree if you allow your career to suffer in the meantime.
This is a dilemma that Olivia had foreseen before enrolling at university.
Olivia has maintained her part-time job in a Somerset supermarket throughout her first year at university, enduring a 3.5 hour commute each weekend. "At first, I thought I would just stay at my job until I was sick of travelling home", she explains, 'but now I've realised how expensive it is to support myself in London and I've not really wanted to stop'.
You may think that a weekly commute of 134 miles would be far from economically sensible, but the aspiring graphic designer explains that long distance coach companies can cost as little as £6 each way, when you book in advance.
Olivia offers some extra clarification: "It isn't just a wage thing (although I do get paid time-and-a-half on Sundays). The three nights that I spend at home each week mean I am not spending money on meals and I'm going out a lot less than other students."
Having seven hours of guaranteed study time each week must ease some of the pressure of a looming deadline, and it is needless to say that having staff discount at a supermarket would be the holy grail to many uni students, but what additional costs has Olivia endured through this unique arrangement?
"I have only really spent one or two weekends in London since my lectures started, I return to my halls on Mondays to hear all of the things that I missed out on, which is a bit crap."
Although she enjoys a great relationship within her flat in halls, Olivia has been absent for many opportunities- both socially and educationally. The 19-year-old claims that her friends in London often visit galleries on the weekends and enjoy an ever-increasing social circle that doesn't necessarily feature her.
"I have a few good friends that I intend to live with next year, but I came to university with the intension of meeting a lot of new people, so I plan to leave my job around Easter time- so that I can focus on starting my life in London. I would recommend commuting home to work for a little while - I've saved up a couple thousand pounds since September - but it's important to know when to quit!"
We were all warned about the financial troubles that university can thrust upon us, but very little is said about the identity crisis that we all face in one way or another. As students, we live a double life between the routines and surroundings that once shaped us, and a new life; in which we are overwhelmed with freedom and possibility.
Olivia's decision to travel home in order to work has been financially rewarding, and is definitely worth considering on a short term or holiday basis; but we only get one attempt at making uni memories. While you must prioritise financial stability, for the good of your health and degree, you must also squeeze every bit of fun and potential that you can out of your time at university- and besides, six days of porridge doesn't taste so bad when you're eating it with friends.