I’ve just done half an hours yoga, I’m sat drinking a coffee & watching Jeremy Kyle before I have to be at work for half 12… It’s an easy life, isn’t it? 😉
Now, you probably didn’t know this but, I used to live in university halls for all of about 3 months between October and December last year. I’d moved back up to Surrey but the boyfriend and I couldn’t necessarily afford anywhere at that time (it’s amazing what you realise you can actually afford when you put your mind to it…) and so halls seemed like the obvious choice. I applied, got given a lovely little room in a floor of 14 right in the heart of campus and everyone told me how amazing and fun it would be. Except I didn’t necessarily believe them. I thought I’d feel massively out of place as an ancient 23 year old compared to their young and exuberant 18 year old youth. I’d been out, worked full time, got drunk, done all the usual 18 year old things but now I was having to go back and decide whether I was going to be a youth again or be the “mum” figure – it was always going to be the “mum” figure. Anyway, I lasted a month and a half before I essentially moved in part time with my boyfriend and his amazing parents. I’m a wimp, leave me be haha! However, during my time in halls I learnt a few things thanks to these amazing freshers, things I feel are quite interesting to know, whether you’re 18 and about to start uni, never ever want to go to uni ever or someone who thinks they might be too old for university…
1. 18 is still 18. Trust me, I know there’s only 5 years difference between 18 & 23 but it feels like miles. They have strange dramas that you don’t understand anymore, they don’t always understand the concept of work (generalisation I know, but in my flat of 14 only 3 of us worked), there’s a lot of screaming and cleaning is not always something that’s fully understood. You just have to constantly remind yourself that you were like that once too and they will get better. Hopefully.
2. Not all halls are nightmares. We’ve all heard the horror stories. Yes, some halls are hideous and horrifying. Most really aren’t and are actually quite nice.
3. Freshers lulls everyone into a false sense of security. Everyone gets on in freshers week. You have to – you know no-one and you’ll be living with these people for the next year. However, once that first month is done it all goes to pot. We started off having pre drinks on floor one, and now we barely say hello when we pass each other on the stairs. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I think people miss that camaraderie we had in freshers week.
4. Fire alarms. They will go off. People will make them go off. You will hate them.
5. “Haven’t seen her in weeks.” Some people see the people they live with everyday. I know that the boyfriend always told me how he loved the fact he just had to walk along a corridor to see his best friends. Some people don’t. I wasn’t a good example of this, but I know other people in halls say they will go a good week or so without seeing other members of their flat. Not unusual.
6. There will be cliques. Yes, it’s not high school but even so, there will be groups of people who click and go off together. In my flat there were a group of five who just got on and seemed to be the “popular”, better than everyone else group. It’s sad but just a fact of life I guess…
7. People will steal your food. We had a condiment thief. Whoever you are, just ask. I will lend you my ketchup. But not if you steal the whole damn bottle.
8. You will cook chicken nuggets and chips. You’ll try to be healthy, you really will. First month of uni I actually lost weight. Then lectures started getting harder, I had more work and reading and boom – potato wedges and fish fingers are always in the freezer for those “I cannot be bothered” nights.
9. You overestimated what you needed to bring. This isn’t necessarily me, in fact if anything I underestimated what clothes and stuff I needed to bring, but I know a lot of people stated that they shouldn’t have brought as much as they did. You will go home. You will bring back more stuff. Don’t sweat it.
10. People go home/have their parents visit a lot more than you will. I went home twice. Once was a flying visit to have a roast and say hi, the other was to see my friends and have another roast. In my flat, by the end of term one guy had been home 12 times. Seriously. Others have their parents to visit at least every other week. And they’ll do their shopping for them. I admit, I don’t get it. At all.
11. Halls is convenient and more fun than you think. A little added bonus here – if you’re a mature student you will worry. You’ll worry about fitting in and not being young enough and feeling too old. That’s okay. You just do you. I was seen as the mum of the flat, offering cooking and life advice to any that ask. And they’re cool with that. They always try and include me and I try and get involved to an extent. Make your boundaries clear – I would not go to the SU, but I’d pre drink if they’re all going out. If they woke me up at 3am once, I was accepting. More than that I would go batshit crazy at them. Not that I was ever there. But don’t be afraid. Chances are nobody will even care after freshers week. They’ll be too busy with their own stuff.