student living, living in halls, halls of residence, student advice
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Living in halls

When it comes to halls of residence, a few things spring to mind. The unsavoury: clinically bare walls, piles of dirty dishes courtesy of the 17 other people that share your kitchen, an oven that only works when the microwave it turned off, etc etc. Then there are the high points: the social life that comes naturally when living with other students, the ease of not having to worry about bills, having lecture theatres and bars and pretty much everything else that you need within easy reach.

Student KitchenStaying in halls, especially as a first year, can be undoubtedly convenient. There is no doubt, though, that living in close quarters with so many new people can create underlying tensions. Read on for a few tips to make your time in halls run a little more smoothly...
  1. Don’t introduce yourself to your new flatmates with the immortal words: ‘Hello, I’m X. I think we need to draw up a recycling rota.’ A good start it will not make.
  2. If going home for the weekend, do not leave your door unlocked. You can probably imagine what might happen. If you can’t, well... don’t test it out.
  3. If you have friends over during the week, at least attempt to bear in mind that your flatmates might be trying to study/ sleep. Noise restrictions are one of the main bugbears of living in halls, but unfortunately it is something that you’ll have to live with. Repeated noise complaints could land you with a fine, which is clearly not something you want. Drinking in the kitchen? Keep it to a few people, or go to a bar instead. It’ll save you a whole load of hassle.
  4. Get out of your room. In halls, which often don’t have a communal area outside of the kitchen, it can be incredibly easy to wake up late, eat a cereal bar, watch Jeremy Kyle, waste time on Twitter, do a bit of work – and suddenly it’s late afternoon and you haven’t left your room, let alone the flat. This has been statistically proven to increase your feelings of lethargy by around 287%. It is dangerous territory; avoid it.
  5. Some universities offer the chance to stay in halls in second and third year. It can be tempting to commit again quickly, since universities often start pushing you to make up your mind about next year’s living arrangements after only a couple of months. At this early stage, the prospect of suggesting a houseshare to people you’re only just embarking on fledgling friendships with can seem daunting. But take time to consider all your options. Do you really want to live in university accommodation again? Would the independence of a house or flat suit you better? The answer may very well be yes.
  6. Halls are expensive, especially of you choose an ensuite room. Be prepared that you might not get a whole lot from your student loan, once rent has been paid –if anything at all. In some cases, you might have to find extra money; your loan might not even cover it. Cost is the main thing that pushes students out of halls, post fresher year.
  7. Don’t leave your alcohol in the kitchen. Common sense, really.
  8. Do your washing up. Seriously. Students are a strange bunch. Whilst some have an inability to notice the mould that’s growing inside their coffee cups, others will throw an unprecedented hissy fit if a single plate is left out overnight. Others will fall ominously silent, and vent their frustration through vaguely threatening post-it notes. I once had a flatmate who would pile up dirty bowls outside the owner’s door if they were left unwashed for more than a couple of days. It’s sad but true. The drama created isn’t worth it. Wash up your pans.
  9. Prop open your doors. It sounds like the simplest thing ever, but the difference it makes to the flat atmosphere cannot be emphasised enough. You are about a million times more likely to get to know your flatmates if they can drop by your room, say hello, and ask how your day has been. If there is a closed door blocking them from doing this the results will be evident.
  10. You’ll probably have cleaners. Don’t expect them to clean though, oh no. You might be paying exorbitant amounts for their services, but starting in Freshers’ Week it becomes very clear that any mess created is your responsibility. A check of your residence handbook is likely to establish the only jobs the cleaners are required to carry out: changing the bins, sweeping the kitchen floor, wiping the tops of the plug sockets (yes, the last one is a requirement). In reality, you’ll be lucky if you even get that. Invest in a bottle of Domestos and some hard wearing cloths, if you’re serious about avoiding potentially life-afflicting airborne diseases.
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