Early May marked the end of my first year at Staffs, and subsequently the end of my student accommodation experience. It was interesting to say the very least and not without its ups and downs. But what can you expect from shared accommodation, particularly when everyone living there has probably left home behind for the very first time?
Before I go any further, I’d just like to point out that I lived in a flat on the top floor of Clarice Cliff Court, so I can only speak for the experience I had there and not for the Leek Road accommodation blocks nor Liberty Court. But, even if you’re planning to live in any of the latter, I’m sure at least some of the following will come in useful.
Here are a few things I wish I’d known before moving into student accommodation.
As you may know, I am a self-confessed country bumpkin. I understand the struggle that comes with living in the countryside and wanting to stream box sets on Netflix. But nothing could have prepared me for this one true life struggle – StudentCom. This is a name that will haunt you throughout your student accommodation experience. No matter where you are or what you do, your internet connection will be unpredictable and unsalvageable. My advice for this one is simple and perhaps the only reason why I met any of my deadlines – if your laptop has an Ethernet port, make sure you buy yourself a cable. Relying on the strength of the Wi-Fi will be your ultimate downfall.
- Plug sockets
As I’ve said, I’m not sure how much of this will apply if you are not living in Clarice Cliff Court, but a very annoying trait about my student halls was the location of plug sockets. Above my desk, there were three pairs of sockets within about 30cm of each other, but absolutely none anywhere else. Where can I charge my phone, my iPad? I accepted that there was no space for a bedside table, but this? No, I found a solution to this one very quickly.
Myself and my neighbour in the flat decided that the best way to get around this was to buy 10 metre wind-up extension cables (around £10 at Argos in case you were wondering) and trail them around the skirting boards, under the bed and up to the headboard, where all phone and tablet charging worries would promptly disappear.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I quite enjoy a shower. A toasty bath with a Lush bath bomb is the ideal, but a shower does the job and is very refreshing in the process. If you share these sentiments, I’m sorry to tell you that you will no longer enjoy your showers when you move into student accommodation. Why, I hear you ask? Well, it’s due to a little something I like to call fire fear. This is when the fear that the fire alarms will be set off by someone burning their toast or other such food items is all encompassing and stops you enjoying your shower. Instead, you will most likely find yourself rushing to get out just so you can at least get into your pyjamas slowly before you are forced out of your warm flat into the sub-zero temperatures of British winter at 1am. No advice for this one I’m afraid, other than make sure you know where your shoes and coat are before you pop in the shower…and don’t forget your key!
One of the first things I noticed about my room in student halls was that the mattress, whilst not as uncomfortable as I had been led to believe, never stayed aligned with the dire metal bed frame. After just one night’s sleep, there would be a gap where my pillow should have been against the headboard, but was instead falling down a great trench.
Annoyingly, I later discovered this was not just something I had experienced in my own halls nor my own university, as a friend studying in York had exactly the same problem and solved it by entangling her camera’s gorilla pod (a type of tripod with shapeable legs) to the end of the bed frame. It worked as a kind of buffer and solved the problem for her instantly. Shame I didn’t hear about this until June…
- Leaving it all behind
Unsurprisingly, my experience of living in student halls was not smooth sailing. Spoiler alert: you may think initially that yours is going to be, but I promise you, this is the norm. There are ups (possibly in the first few weeks when you’re bonding with your flatmates to make it easier to live with them and share a kitchen) but there are also downs (like when a person gets comfortable and their true colours begin to shine through). No one I shared a flat with for my first year was awful – shoutout to fellow student blogger Gee for being one of the best flatmates I had – but as the second semester was coming to a close, I was looking forward to leaving it and that kind of communal living behind.
What shocked me in the end was that I was genuinely sad when the time finally came. I had a moment of reflection, remembering all the good memories I’d had in student accommodation, and letting the bad ones fall away. Sure, I may have been kept awake by ignorant neighbours blasting their music through the walls after midnight on the night before my 9am lecture, or cleaned the kitchen 100 times a day just to keep it sanitary, but I celebrated Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas and Easter with some incredible people that I didn’t know before September but couldn’t imagine my life without by May. Some you miss, some you don’t, but that kind of bond would never have been made without us all living in student accommodation.
I suppose what you can take from all of this is that living in student accommodation is definitely an experience worth having, and although at times you may wish you could just go home or live in a log cabin miles away from civilisation in the woods, you will not regret your first year at university and your time in student halls. Your memories will last a lifetime – so get excited and look forward to the future!