Surviving University Halls
Don’t get me wrong – student halls are great. It’s the easiest way to make new friends in this strange, scary place called university that you’re supposed to go to for at least three years. Moreover, once you have gotten used to the idea of sharing a flat with complete strangers and staying in a room that – by the look of it – has accommodated at least 100 people before you, halls can actually give you a weird sense of comfort and affiliation. If you’re lucky halls might be the closest any place has ever gotten to being a second home for you. But, as fun as they may seem, there are some downsides to everything that promises adventure.
Even though this might seem obvious, you will quickly learn to appreciate your mum’s cleanliness, that you once thought was completely overrated. Unless you’re part of a very rare species that doesn’t mind cleaning up the mess of others and mopping the floor 24/7, you’re going to have to get used to being surrounded by dirt a lot. And I mean it. Whether it’s just dirty pans; left-overs of some weirdly coloured pasta sauce or rice spread all over the kitchen floor – you’ll soon find out how dirty people-that-appear-to-be-clean actually are. It is always easy to spot mummy’s little darling who has never been told to clean up after themselves. It may be useful to discuss and implement some form of cleaning system as soon as you move in just to ensure you’re starting as you mean to go on. But luckily, most student halls have cleaners, so the communal spaces will at least be routinely clean. I would advise just taking a deep breath and cooking your meals in advance – preferably all at once as soon as the cleaner has left the kitchen and everything is back to normal for a few minutes.
Disappearance of food.
Adding to the fact that some people seem unable to prepare meals without spreading half of it on the kitchen floor is that a lot of them also have little to zero energy to go to the supermarket themselves. Once they run out of milk they’ll be more than happy to simply use yours – so prepare yourself for running out of groceries way faster than you’re expecting to. Survival tip number one: find spots to hide your food, whether it’s behind a loose kitchen tile or in your own room doesn’t really matter. You could also encourage your flatmates to do their grocery shopping online! A great opportunity to save money, and have groceries brought to you.
Now this might seem a bit odd – surely everyone loves a good party? You might have been to house parties before and thought that dancing on the kitchen table at 3am wasn’t the worst idea you’ve ever had? Let me tell you, this is not always enjoyable. As soon as uni has gone through all the induction-this-is-what-we’re-going-to-do-this-term-lectures, most people will find lecturers and seminar leaders expect you to do more than just turn up to their classes and sit there whilst still being slightly drunk from the night before. You’re going to have a lot of work to do, especially when the end of term is near. You better get used to being able to sleep whilst your flatmates are bawling and jumping around in your kitchen or you could just go and buy a good pair of earplugs.
The why-am-I-paying-this-much-rent-for-such-an-awful-place moment.
I know a lot of people that have definitely been there – the moment the first thing in your flat breaks, you normally contact your university and they’ll fix it for you. It’s as simple as that. However, sometimes you just can’t help but wonder why they ask you to pay such a tremendous amount of money for a place that looks like the Queen’s grandmother might have lived in it before she moved into Buckingham Palace. But don’t worry – once you move out and rent your own place you’ll realise how cheap renting student halls is compared to the real world out there. So just have some biscuits and a cup of tea and lean back whilst you’re waiting for the mechanic to finally come and fix your broken radiator.
Finally: the fact that no one seems to feel responsible for anything.
This kind of sums up all the points made above, but living in uni halls means accepting the idea that you’re just going to have to learn to deal with things happening without anyone doing anything. You might find your favourite mug broken into pieces on the kitchen floor – it must have been the ghost of a previous resident hovering through the kitchen at night. You find your shampoo bottle empty in the bins even though you bought it three days ago? The bottle must have been leaking. Don’t despair, we’ve all been there. Try to stay collected and enjoy your university halls experience!
- By Pia Schumacher