An Ode to Student Accommodation

There’s nowhere I’d rather be.

Halls are an integral part of university life. Amongst the crazy buzz of school, sports, and social life, they’re a place to destress – or perhaps to cram maniacally – and attempt to catch up on inevitable hours of lost sleep. But do university halls make you grow up? A stepping stone between staying at home and renting a flat, you cook your own food, keep your place tidy, manage your time, and, God forbid, do your own laundry. But, simultaneously, there will always be those watching out for you; a Wardennial team that answers every call; flatmates who will sit with you at 2 am, crying and eating Coco Pops; friends and new faces around every corner. Though halls can be a pain, they’re undoubtedly an important part of your life that can shape you for years to come.

Photo: St Andrews University

One view may be that halls are too restricting. People are always watching out for you – the wardens at our hall get strict on who enters the building, particularly around infamous Raisin time. Weekly updates from the cleaning staff to tell you that your kitchen has fallen below standard – again – become a habit, and the frantic hoovering up of glitter-covered floors the evening before room checks says it all.

However, halls simultaneously force you to grow up. Where some would argue that you are still stuck in the confines of rows upon rows of labyrinthine hallways, I’d disagree. Having lived in a hostel type arrangement, the difference between the two is perfect. Where before we were plagued with curfews, sanctions, and rotas of times to study, get up, and eat dinner (we were indeed unlucky residents it seems), now, halls simply force you to discipline yourself. Whether this means saying no to the fourth Indian takeout of the week – more difficult than it seems – or simply sitting down to write out three essays late into the night, decision making plays a big part.

You learn to cooperate with people and take responsibilities. If you’re lucky enough to have a neighbour like mine, she’ll write a list of all our hallway-mates and tick us off as we reappear, cold, tired, and drenched in God knows what, from a long Raisin Sunday. We’ve gone out for hallway meals and attended pier walks together, and the photos from the Opening Ball capture this friendly, team-like feeling.

Halls force you to be sociable, in the best ways. Many a time it has seemed far more agreeable to stay in bed wrapped in blankets, cook some nice food, and binge on Gilmore Girls, but the buzzing group of people excitedly preparing for a night of fun often pulls you from your warm duvet. Maybe it is regrettable in the morning as you drag yourself in the pouring rain along the congested Market Street, or when you’re sat, eyes furiously blinking to remain open, in your 9 am tutorial, but the group mentality in halls is unbeatable. There are always events going on: pub quizzes, wine and cheese nights, board games, films, music, or simply socialising on the sofas downstairs are a familiar constant that makes you want to be there. Halls give you your own space, but there are never people far away.

Photo: University of St Andrews

While we complain about the size of our kitchen for all twelve of us true chefs, or the sparse number of working laundry machines, or, like me, getting up early to trudge to the other end of town on time, nobody will deny that halls remain a place to go after a long night. Stumbling in the front doors in the early hours and fumbling for your beloved key-card, you know that you always have a bed to sleep in, friends to make sure you’re okay, and food in the cupboard – even if it is just pasta, crackers, and old take-aways. For these reasons, halls are an important love-hate relationship in every university student’s life.

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