By Jason Laryea
In an alternate universe, university halls are like a hotel; you have your own cleaners, fresh sheets and towels whenever you want, and the most exquisite selection of Michelin starred food for you to feast on. Did I paint the picture right?
Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be the reality for you. In fact, my experience of being a resident of university halls was the exact opposite of this. For context, I am a first-year student at the University of Southampton, and I have been living in student accommodation for 3 weeks.
I have learnt first-hand just how thin the walls and ceilings are - you can hear EVERYTHING your roommates do. So, invest in a good pair of headphones or be prepared to listen to thumping at 3 in the morning. That’s just the reality, mentally prepare yourself!
When I was picking my accommodation, I knew that I wanted my own bathroom, because I didn’t feel comfortable sharing a bathroom with complete strangers (and I also take an unnecessary amount of time to get ready and to be honest I didn’t feel like fighting with roommates over time in the bathroom). My friends that share a bathroom have mixed experiences. Like marmite, some hate it and some love it. My advice would be, if you can afford to spend the extra money, then invest in your own bathroom because when you’re late for a lecture and you need to get ready quickly, the last thing you need is to wait for your roommates to get out of the bathroom.
My university had a lot of options when it came to picking your student halls, and if you stayed at certain halls you would get a free bus pass for the academic year. This is a huge money saver because, aside from travelling to campus, you’ll want to go shopping and go out – and those daily £1.50s add up. That’s something that definitely drew me into choosing my accommodation, besides having my own bathroom.
In addition to this, there were halls that suited a range of budgets with the shared bathroom options being the cheapest, and the city-centre ones with their own kitchens being the most expensive. I was quite spoilt for choice between catered and self-catered halls as the difference in price and quality of the rooms was not too big between them. The only thing that switched me off from catered halls was the fact that the kitchens in those halls were really small – what if I didn’t want the catered food on a certain night? I personally felt too restricted with it, but I will say that the catered options were very diverse, and most students enjoy the food. So, if you don’t feel like cooking in your first year then this is the way to go.
All in all, university halls are the best way to meet loads of new people and to become an adult (especially if you learn to cook in a catered hall). It also teaches you to manage all the hurdles that undeniably come with living in university halls. No matter how much advice I give you, it’s unlikely that all of it will apply to you as everyone’s experience is different. So, just remember to take every experience as a learning experience, study hard, and have fun.