Tens of thousands of college students will be flocking the University Belt this June. The U-Belt, one of the busiest areas in Metro Manila, is home to more than 27 universities, colleges, and vocational schools. The congestion and bustle can be overwhelming for young men and women, especially those not used to the organized chaos of the capital.

Life in college is like riding the rollercoaster. It can be horrifying at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's nothing short of exhilarating. Don't just survive this chapter of your life. Grow and reach your full potential. Make the most of your college life in the U-Belt with this guide.

Coffee, good food, and a comfy place for readings

In choosing your accommodation for the duration of your college program, take note of the safety and security, convenience and comfort. It's tough to focus on your readings when you're uneasy in your living space. Consider a DMCI condo in Manila. Visit Sorrel Residences on Sociego Street in Sampaloc, Torre de Manila in Ermita, The Camden Place in Malate, and Illumina Residences Manila in Sta. Mesa. Live in a resort-style condo community near your school.

Do your outlines in the comfort of your condo space or hit a cozy coffee shop near your school. The Coffee Habit is a budget-friendly joint where you can get a boost of caffeine in a relaxing ambiance. This popular hangout place also serves mouthwatering meals and sinfully good desserts. Try the Chocolate Oreo Milkshake for a dose of happy feelings!

The Coffee Habit: 1558 E. Remigio St. Cor. Anacleto St., Sta. Cruz, Manila

Mouthwatering burgers on a budget

In college, you'll build a new network of mentors and friends. You'll find people with whom you share the same interests and aspirations. Be smart about choosing the right people to hang out with. You may be older but you're not immune to bad company. Remind yourself of your main purpose of entering the university, and your family's sacrifices to afford your education. Stay with people who will inspire you to succeed in your studies.

Make the most of condo living by holding your brainstorming sessions in your home. You can also discuss assignments in the sky lounge or roof deck at a DMCI condo. For cheap yet good snacks, head on to Yvan Navy Burger and Kebab House near UST. College students come for the budget meals, they stay for the festive vibe. Try their legendary quarter pounder and double quarter pounder burgers grilled on volcanic rocks. Other choices include kebabs, tacos, nachos, and quesadillas.

Yvan Navy Burger and Kebab House: Honradez St., Sampaloc District, Manila

The popular street foods of U-Belt

Prepare your own meals in your condo space. You can cook adobo, menudo, and beef steak, and store them in microwavable containers in the fridge. Heat them up for your lunch or dinner. Stock up vegetables and fruits. Instead of salty potato chips, you can have carrot sticks, apple cubes or oranges for snacks. Bring these healthy treats to school.

The U-Belt is a food haven. There are fast food chains, tapsilogan and karinderia joints, and an almost endless row of street food carts. Students and workers flock to these carts where you can buy all-time favorite tusok-tusok treats such as fish balls, kikiam, kwek-kwek, and calamari. There are also banana and camote cue, ensaymada, and other Filipino merienda choices. Be warned, however, of the possible health risk of consuming these snacks. There's a reason why they're endearingly called “Hepa A.”

Where to find these tusok-tusok joints? Right outside your school premises!

Cheap second-hand books and vintage goodies

The U-Belt has everything a student needs. There are affordable food choices, school supplies, and secondhand books. Those who want to save on reference materials head on to Lerma Street for cheap photocopying and Morayta Street for books. However, keep in mind the provisions of the Intellectual Property Law. Books, pamphlets, articles, and other writings are copyrightable objects. An exception is when the importation of a copy of a work is for your personal purposes only. Be law-abiding and respect the economic and moral rights of authors and publishers.

Inside Cartimar Building Shopping Center in CM Recto is a quaint stall that sells second-hand books, CDs, vinyls and lots of vintage goodies. Mang Greg, the well-loved owner of Stall 31, has an impressive collection of fiction and non-fiction books for amazingly low prices.

Stall 31: Cartimar Building Shopping Center, Severino St., CM Recto, Quiapo, Manila

Literary treasures on sidewalks

U-Belt is a paradise for book lovers. You can find bookstores everywhere — inside shopping centers, in standalone stores, and sidewalks. Visit Alikabooks in several sidewalks in Manila including along Padre Faura. You’ll be surprised at the selection of hard-to-find titles that will make a bookworm’s heart flutter. Indulge in rare fictions, Pablo Neruda’s love poems, and Nietzsche’s thought-provoking philosophies.

Alikabooks: check out the sidewalks in Manila

Frozen desserts and sparkling ades

The heat is extra burdensome in congested areas such as the U-Belt because of air pollution. Hydrate yourself throughout the day. It doesn't matter if you're feeling thirsty or not. Just drink up. Your brain also needs lots of liquid when it’s under stress.

Beat the heat with a water jug or tumbler in tow. You can also treat yourself to frozen desserts. Yelo: A Taste Of Snow is an oasis in the middle of the blistering city. Surprise your tastebuds with Korean shaved ice desserts available in mango, strawberry, milk, chocolate, and melon. If you prefer something to quench your thirst, there are sparkling ades with soda water. Have a refreshing Lychee Grapefruit Ade before you head to your next class.

Yelo: A Taste Of Snow: Food Court, Gordi Plaza, 2125 Legarda St., Quiapo, Manila

Quick snacks for busy bees

When you’re busy and got a lot of things in your mind, quick snacks are your saving grace. Always have crackers or bread in your bag. Never go to class hungry. Remember that your brain needs a source of energy to function.

No time for a full meal? You can drop by the food stalls outside your school for banana cue or shawarma. One of the go-to’s in U-Belt for quick grub is Potato Giant on Concepcion Aguila. Satisfy your cravings for crispy potato snacks by trying out the iconic Potpots, french fries, and hash browns. You can have your fries topped with cheese and bacon bits. Also, don’t miss the chicken nuggets served with hickory BBQ sauce

Potato Giant: Concepcion Aguila, 1st Street, San Miguel, Manila

Casual dining + gorgeous interiors

After a grueling exam, treat yourself to a delectable dinner. There’s no shortage of casual dining joints in U-Belt. Craving for Filipino dishes? What about sushi and tempura? Have you been dreaming about Korean BBQ lately? The U-Belt got you covered.

Troika Resto and Art Gallery is a charming food hub near UST. This is where good food and hip interior collide: a true Instagrammable destination. Have a get-together with your college friends. Try out the bestselling Troika Sardines, Troika Burger, Mozzarella Bacon Bomb, and Paella ala Valenciana.

Troika Resto and Art Gallery: 823 Extremadura St., Sampaloc, Manila

Unlimited Internet and overflowing coffee

Need a place to study and chill but don’t want to head to the library? Go to a co-working space. Plug It - Coworking Space & Study Hub, near UST, offers unlimited Internet, overflowing coffee, outlets for your gadgets, and lots of comfy cushions. Like most co-working spaces, Plug-It offers a nook for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and students to get productive and collaborate. This is a perfect place to get things done while having the opportunity to meet new people.

Plug It - Coworking Space & Study Hub: 902 Eloisa St., Cor. Espana Blvd., Sampaloc, Manila

A cafe and underground theater

Stress is a cause of many physical and mental problems among college students. Take a break as often as necessary. Never allow yourself to get burnt out. Exercise regularly even if it’s only 30 minutes of stretching and breathing exercises. Watch Netflix sometimes. Go out with family and friends.

Head on to IChill Theater Cafe near UST after your errands and duties for the week. Enjoy a selection of frappes, smoothies, hot drinks, and chillers with pasta or pizza. IChill isn’t just a dining spot. There are film screenings, acoustic concerts, theater and spoken poetry performances, stand-up comedy, board games, and more. Got a joke or a political speech? Take the stage and get free snacks!

IChill Theater Cafe: 1125 Dos Castillas St., Sampaloc, Manila

College life is an exciting chapter. Be open to new experiences. Explore but never lose your focus. You have your life ahead of you.