Content Writer | Alex Harper
For most people, the hazy period of your life that is moving into university accommodation will last for only a year until you make enough friends and vague acquaintances to move into a house. However, for the foreseeable future, your life will be skewed eating schedules, staring at an over-spilling bin – that is far too small for six people – and thinking ‘it’s definitely not my turn this week’, and most importantly, leaving things to ‘soak’. While this all sounds in every instance, unappealing, grotesque and definitely not what was pictured in the brochure, there are a lot of things that will tip the ever-waning scales of university accommodation in your favour.
If you haven’t seen this tag-line at least fifteen times over the course of browsing various articles on university life, then either you are lying or you are confident enough to have not tumbled into the gargantuan rabbit hole of university lifestyle articles, if the former, I ardently admire you.
Making friends in university accommodation is, contrary to popular belief, not all about leaving your door wide open on the first day. In my experience, there is always a chat created on social media for the people who have been put into the same halls as you. You can usually find your way into this by trawling through Facebook for a short while. If you haven’t yet found this page for new Royal Holloway students, here is a great place to start: https://www.facebook.com/groups/royalhollowayfreshers2018/
It’s also a good idea to get any friends you make on the first day to introduce you to their friends, or to ask if they’re doing anything later that day. Chances are, it’ll be easier to meet people in the first week of university than it is for the rest of the year, everybody wants to know everybody in the first few weeks!
By this, I do not mean buy five bottle openers, three different types of cheese graters and an expensive water bottle. When people first move into their accommodation, feelings of homesickness can be quite overwhelming at first. It’s important to have things around you that remind you of home, nostalgia isn’t always a bad thing. Make sure you bring some photographs with you, perhaps polaroid’s as they’re small and easy to take places! DON’T pin them or blue tack them to the walls, use whatever cork board the university have provided you with. It’s not a myth that people get fined for leaving marks on the walls. Here are a few things other students have suggested you bring with you.
- A water filter jug, sometimes the water in your area isn’t exactly pristine.
- Fairy lights. Fairy lights can make any room feel a little more comfortable, make sure they’re battery powered and not too clunky.
- A rug, carpets in university rooms aren’t always nice to look at or walk on, the same goes for hardwood floors. Rugs make everything a little more personal and cosy.
- A large shopping bag. There is no specific purpose for this, but you will definitely need one.
- Need I say more.
- An eye mask. University curtains are rarely heavy duty blackout blinds, so if you’re sensitive to light in the mornings, invest in a comfortable eye mask.
Know how to deal with issues
We spoke to some fellow students who came across some issues during their time in university accommodation, and we spoke to them about how it made them feel and what you can do about it without having to worry!
‘It was strange because I was lucky enough to have an ensuite but that also made me feel like I was in a hotel or at a camp sometimes. It didn’t feel like I’d left home until a couple of months later and I’m an international student who had literally moved countries. It was a good atmosphere though, I was lucky to meet all my close friends, it felt like I’d gained a new family’.
Moral of the story: The homesick feeling will pass!
‘One of the girls in my flat immediately got into a relationship with one of the boys, who had a friend in the flat he already knew before university. They went around in a sort of trio which made it hard to do anything with them, they also did a lot of stuff the rest of us weren’t comfortable with and wouldn’t wash up or clean things which caused rifts, they got annoyed if we wouldn’t clean theirareas. But I’d say to people who experience similar things not to even worry about who you live with in first year because you’ll find your people in the end, second year was the best for me!’
Moral of the story: Some people are just plain and simply difficult to get along with. Don’t stress too much about it and stick with the people you do get along with!
‘My room was pretty gross and half the size of the other rooms on my floor – I had been moved in late due to some clerical error or something. It was also really cold with rubbish heating which caused black mould to keep appearing. As a result I ended up living with my girlfriend for most of my first year – who lived far away in Brighton – so the state of my flat really affected my mental health, my studies and my interaction with other students. My university did clean the black mould but I was never able to move rooms, and what made things worse is that there was no communal room either so it was tricky to hang out with flatmates even when I was there. What I would say to people in accommodation that they don’t want to be in (for whatever reason) is to put yourself out there more, grab lunch together with people on your course and try and make connections when you can that way. It made things a lot easier when I was making friends that way!’
Moral of the story: Sometimes university accommodation isn’t up to scratch. Before you head off to university in the summer, make sure you have attended an open day and checked out a vast majority of the halls available to you. If it still isn’t great when you arrive, first of all, contact your university about it and tell them what’s up. Failing this, spend time elsewhere, in your university library or at the accommodation of friends. Invest in a moisture trap in your room, too. University rooms can get pretty cold sometimes which can cause bad air and mould to form – moisture traps can help this. However if you do begin to notice things don’t ease up quickly – your university is obligated to assist you in either moving rooms or removing the problem.
‘I had flatmates who would tell me to turn my music down but towards exam season, who would also be screaming at each other and playing FIFA all morning with no regard for anyone else. But I’d say not to worry about things like this, you’re not in halls with these people forever and you can choose who you live with next year!’
Moral of the story: Annoying loudness (and hypocrisy) is unfortunately an inevitable thing when you’re living with a bunch of other people, try and stay calm to avoid causing rifts in the meantime and definitely invest in some earplugs!
So, there we have it! We thoroughly hope you enjoy your time here, stay safe and always keep in touch with student services such as security and housekeeping throughout your stay in university accommodation. But most of all, make the most of meeting new people and don’t let the downsides of living with a lot of other people get you down too much – it’s not for long and we can assure you, it all makes for great anecdotes at parties.