By Amanda Hudson and Bethanie Short
Deal With Your Flat-Mates, Live With Your Friends
Maybe it’s the unsavoury memory of the offensive smelling shared showers in Kingswood I. Maybe it’s because when I was in halls two years ago, we didn’t have heating or hot water for the three coldest months of the year. Perhaps it was the stone my friend Charlotte found in her scrambled eggs one morning in the KW. Perhaps it was just Kingswood, and all other on campus halls are fine (if we were playing M.A.S.H. I definitely got the shack). All I know is, living on campus was not my cup of tea.
If you play your cards right, living in off campus housing is like having a sleepover every night with your best friends. In my first house off campus, we would regularly host and cook dinners for our friends. You can’t easily do this in a dorm unless you want to lug your groceries a mile uphill and (for catered halls) buy some form of portable cooktop. Not to mention my kitchen in Kingswood I could barely fit two people and the mini fridge that was meant to hold the refrigerated items of all twenty people on our floor was always rancid. In a house, you never have to worry about that kind of stuff. The kitchen is almost always big enough for multiple people, and if you’re worried about the cleanliness and spaciousness of your fridge–or any other area of the house, for that matter—you can politely take it up with your housemates instead of trying to rally your whole floor to do a cleaning session.
Not only this, you feel so much more independent in a house. You get to make the rules, you get to decide what you eat, and you get to decide when things are cleaned. There’s a certain sense of grown up-ness that comes with paying the bills and remembering to take the bins out to the street on Monday nights that you just don’t get when you’re in student halls. You get a taste of what it’s like to remember to do all of these things without actually having to bring home the bacon. You get to have fun while still being (semi) responsible.
Houses are life savers if you don’t want regular early morning sessions of “which flat was drunk and left the toast in the toaster to burn this time?” out on the lawn of your student halls when the fire alarm wakes you up. Everyone has a horror story or two about the one awful flat mate. And houses can save you from this horrible fate. Flat mates, you’re stuck with. House mates, you get to choose. And if that isn’t enough reason to be excited about moving off campus, I don’t know what else would convince you.
Amanda Hudson, Opinon & Debate Editor
Campus Living is Community Living
University was my first real taste of freedom. I had shared a room with my little sister pretty much my whole life, so walking into my room on the first day of fresher’s week was a bit of a shock. It was the first space that was just mine, a feeling that I’m sure is shared by many people. It’s a feeling of pride, and of shock. For the first time in my life, I was alone without the support of my parents, and it wasn’t until my family left that day that I properly realised it. Living on campus, however, made the whole process of settling in seem less lonely. Not only was everyone in my hall in the same position, which was something we could bond over, but living on campus felt like being part of a community. The issue with living in a student home in a residential area is the feeling of being separate from your neighbours, not quite included in the happenings of the street. On campus, settling into university life (or becoming re-accustomed to it) is easier because everyone is going through it together. And as everyone has been in the situation of not being able to work the microwave, or getting lost on the way to Tesco, helping each other through the hard times doesn’t seem like such a hardship.
Early morning lectures are the worst. When everyone on my course found out that one of our lectures was being moved to a nine am spot last year, a collective groan went around the lecture theatre. As second years, most of us weren’t living on campus, so this meant either forfeiting an extra half an hour of sleep, or looking like a dishevelled mess upon arrival. Early morning lectures on campus were much easier in halls. It was possible to wake up twenty minutes before a lecture, pull on whatever clothes were hanging around, and rock up to a lecture right before it started, coffee in hand. After the lecture, if you were so inclined, it would take less than ten minutes to be back in the safety of your room to take a quick nap to recover from the horror of waking up so early.
There’s no denying that living in halls has its fault. The fire alarm that happened the midnight before my first exam springs to mind as one of the lows of living on campus. But, overall, they’re a place where anyone can learn to use a washing machine, somewhere where housemates spend an entire night bonding over crumpets and discussions about everything from family to alcohol. Which is why living on campus is better than living off of it.
Photography by Michele Theil
These articles were published in our September 2016 issue.