Oh the joys of student accommodation! Last year I wrote an article talking about the sense of belonging and familiarity that comes with opting to live in halls at university. It was something of a love letter to my wonderful corridor friends and our chaotic nights of fun. Now I am back, a year later, with the same subject but a slightly different perspective.
I remember the mad rush for housing applications last year: students frantically filling in forms and phoning parents, bustling from house viewing to house viewing as they tried to secure the perfect spot for the year ahead. I was no stranger to this; I filled in multiple forms, received letters of recommendation, and scrawled through pages of properties to find the home that would become me in second year. However, as time went on I began to question certain things: why was I so averse to returning to student accommodation? Many people I met in halls had groaned about the regimented meal times, or the dreaded, monthly room checks; some loathed the early morning fire drills or the mandatory meetings, with Wardens keeping an eye on you most of the time. But was it really that bad? Were we truly watched like a hawk? Perhaps not.
Needless to say, here I am again – my glorious student accommodation bedroom, sitting on a (slightly uncomfortable) bed in a (not so pretty) building full of other students. Don’t even get me started on the Fresher’s Flu epidemic…
As all of my friends moved into houses at the end of the summer, I must admit that I felt a slight tinge of regret. How fun it would be, I thought, to sit in pyjamas in a cosy living room, sipping wine with friends and watching Gilmore Girls reruns long into the night. These thoughts tugged at my mind as I trundled suitcases into my new bedroom: a dark cave hidden from the outside world of real and proper adults. Having been here for a few weeks, however, I like to think that this decision was right. Perhaps halls are not for everyone, but there are a few, undeniable advantages to returning to those student-filled hallways after first year.
Foremost and probably most importantly, halls are a safe place. Only you have the key to your room, and there is little chance of losing this key, since for many it is the same card you use to access the library, or use as a form of identification. Doors are kept locked all the time, and, in my small abode, I feel undeniably safe.
Despite being a relatively organised person, I am not good at budgeting. I spend far too much on coffee, on lunch dates, and anything pretty that catches my eye. It is refreshing to not have to worry about how much internet I use, or how much hot water, or heating, or electricity. Of course, this comes out of the rent I pay, but at the end of the day, I can take a two hour shower if I want (as long as someone doesn’t come banging on the door.)
3. A Retreat from the World
Finally, I think the most important aspect of halls for me is that it is somewhere to get away. At first, this daunted me. While all my friends were constantly socialising in their real homes, I had to trudge back from town every day, the long, cold, lonely trek and be alone in my room. Although the experience of living in halls can be isolating, in a way this is a good thing – at least that is what I tell myself. After a long day of busy lectures, stressing in the library, and bumping into old faces on the street, it feels quite nice to have a calm and quiet place to retreat to. Perhaps this makes me a grandma, but there is a certain charm to alone time to relax and wind down from a hectic day.
My experience with halls has definitely been a mixed one. At times student accommodation infuriates me. Being awoken for the 6 am fire alarm and standing bleary-eyed in the cold Fife drizzle is never fun, nor is hearing the torrent of footsteps of students above me in the early hours, clearly having a wilder night than my own.
But, all the same, I am happy to be here, most of the time.