How to prepare for living in halls

Group of happy friends having fun

Now that your UCAS application is off to the powers that be, your mind might be drifting towards where you’ll be next year. For some, that might mean leaving your family home and heading

As if the thought of moving to a new city and starting university or college isn’t scary enough, along with it comes moving in with a group of complete strangers. Speaking from the point of view of someone who’s lived in halls, I can assure you it isn’t as scary as it seems.

Living in halls is a must if you’re going to leave home when you go to uni or college. Even though it has its lows, the highs are much more frequent and definitely worth it. It gives you the most hands on experience of being a student and teaches you valuable lessons like having to remember when food is about to go out of date cause your mum isn’t there to notice for you. Basically, it’s a trial run at adulthood. And it’s great fun.

Moving 100 miles away from home maybe wasn’t as daunting for me as other people. I was lucky enough to be moving in with a friend from school along with three girls we didn’t know, and had siblings nearby to call on when things went wrong. Despite those facts it was still just as terrifying at first.

The most difficult part of the day you move will undoubtedly be when your family has to leave and you’re left to fend for yourself. Saying that I didn’t cry a little would be lying, bursting into tears in a lift with a rep from my halls maybe wasn’t the most graceful way to do it, but it was bound to happen.

Meeting your new flatmates is important – first impressions count so even if you’re freaking out inside you should definitely try your best to socialise on your first night. These guys could end up being your new best friends and you’ll have to live with them for a year so getting on is essential.

One of my favourite memories from living in halls is the night before my eighteenth birthday. Two of my flatmates and I brought it in making pancakes with Nutella, and immediately eating them, which made our first awkward meeting completely worth it and the fact that any of us had been nervous seem just plain stupid.

dirty dishes

Even if you come to find that your flatmates are all you ever wanted in your friends, there’s definitely going to be stupid fights over even more stupid things. I once had an argument with a flatmate over her not doing her dishes which ended in her accidentally cutting her hand open on a dirty knife. Try and avoid confrontation as much as possible and keep in mind someone using the last of your milk or bread isn’t the end of the world. Assigning each person a shelf in the fridge and freezer is essential for just that. Most halls have social areas with a pool table or TV and these spaces are great for meeting people other than your flatmates, as well as having vending machines for midnight snacks.

Along with making sure you’re social, to get the best halls experience there are practical things to think about too.

If you’re like me and pack your whole life for a holiday, packing for halls is going to be a difficult task. No matter where you book the storage space is going to be dreadful and will probably include a wardrobe that you’re taller than so choose what clothes you want to take carefully. The same goes for kitchen wear. There is only one of you so you probably don’t need six of everything. If you do find there’s nowhere to put anything in your room, try buying plastic storage boxes to keep things like books or socks in under your desk or in the bottom of your wardrobe.

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Most, if not all, halls of residence won’t let you put pins or Blue Tac on the walls which can leave your room looking a bit boring and un-homely if you were planning to decorate. A great alternative that won’t leave holes or marks on your walls is Glu Dots – these are made by Blue Tac and come in a clear semi-permanent version along with being a lot more sticky and long lasting than their counterpart. Alternatively, frame prints and pics and lean them against the wall or on a shelf. If you’re lucky enough to have a pin board in your room like I did be sure to use it to stick up a copy of your schedule and class timetable so that you don’t forget to do anything important.

If you have the option definitely opt for an en-suite room – this might be more pricey but not having to share a bathroom will be a relief especially when you’re avoiding someone after a fight over who ate your last Jaffa Cake.

Halls are expensive as it is, especially if you opt for ones not owned by your uni like I did, but what you don’t think about when organising money is the extras you’ll need to pay for like doing laundry. Mine would cost me nearly £5 a go if I wanted to use a tumble dryer which is something I did not account for before I moved. Having a laundry basket for transporting your fresh clothes is essential because a lot of the time the laundry room is in a completely different building.

Despite the silly arguments, living in halls will probably be one of the best experiences you’ll have while studying. You have freedom to do whatever you want and a chance to get a fresh start and meet new people. One of the biggest positives of living in halls is that they will most likely be a two minute walk from your uni or college allowing you to sleep in for longer or go home between classes if you forgot something important.

The main piece of advice I would give about living in halls is just embrace it. The occasional negative won’t be the thing that you remember in the long run and you would be missing out if you didn’t.

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