A lot of young adults will be heading to uni next month, which is fairly scary in itself, but for some it’s even scarier – they’ll be moving into halls of residence! I lived in halls for my first year of university. It was honestly one of the best years of my life because I had great friends and life on campus was great. Some halls won’t be on campus, but there’s still a great atmosphere and community. Here are my tips for surviving halls!!
[side note: for you Americans, Halls are the British equivalent to Dorms, except rooms aren’t shared. You have a floor of rooms (sometimes with en-suites) and a shared kitchen. Some lucky people get a living space too.]
1. Don’t let your parents stick around for too long
Obviously, let them help you transport everything from the car to your room, but make sure they don’t stay for hours.You want to meet your flatmates ASAP and tbh it’s a bit embarrassing having your mum sobbing on your shoulder whilst trying to make friends. Let them help you unpack, say your goodbyes and look forward to your new independence!
2. Bring a doorstop
This is always mentioned in every guide, but as soon as you arrive at your room, open your door. It means you can see as soon as anyone else arrives, everyone will know you’ve arrived and you look inviting and friendly. Personally, the only time I didn’t prop my door open is when I was out or asleep.
3. Bring DVDs
DVDs are a great way to spend time with your flatmates without breaking the bank. If you have a TV (rather than a laptop), even better. Suggest a movie night with crisps and popcorn in your room (we could fit 8 people in a room – 4 on the bed, 3 on the floor, 1 on a chair) and you can bond over Ryan Gosling’s abs. One of the guys in our flat had a 42″ TV… we spent almost every night in his room!
4. Bring loads of tablets/medicine
There is a 99% chance you will get Freshers Flu. It’s basically a cold, mixed with a week’s worth of hangovers, so it’s essential that you have loads of Beecham’s and Paracetamol so you don’t have to traipse down the shops when you’re feeling like death. Also, you will get ill all the time, from living with up to 10 other people in one small flat and being around hundreds of students.
5. Get your parents to buy the (food) essentials before you go and when they visit
Essential food items are things like beans, pasta, rice, tins of chopped tomatoes, stock cubes, ketchup, etc. As well as saving you money, it’s a hassle going to the shops on your first or second day for food, especially if you have a long walk and heavy bags. There’s no better feeling than a full fridge (well, a fridge shelf) and cupboard after your parents go home. Don’t abuse the system, but a few times in the year is fine.
6. Don’t say no
There will be a LOT of events going on during throughout the year. Your flatmates are probably going to want to do things you’ve never tried (or wanted to try) before. If they ask you to go, GO. If they ask you to nip to Sainsbury’s with them, GO. It’s great bonding and you’ll try things you’ve probably never done before. Erm, but say no to people you want to say no to. If you know what I mean.
7. Don’t be too noisy
Halls’ walls are paper thin. I could hear my neighbours phone buzzing whenever he got a text. Keep music to headphones or on low volume, don’t watch movies too loud at 1am, keep crying to a minimum and, er, in terms of activities you get up to with a guy who totally gave you a fake name – maybe try and be a bit quieter.
8. Claim your space
Get there early on move-in day and claim the best cupboard and fridge shelf because the last one there will always be stuck with the awkward corner cupboard and the bottom shelf.
9. Go to EVERY event
If you can book tickets to events before you go, do it. Even if you don’t like clubbing, go anyway. If you hate comedy, go to comedy night. Try everything at least ONCE. Even if you’ve tried it before, uni is your fresh start and you may find that when you’re in a different part of the country or with different friends, you enjoy things you never thought you would enjoy. You’ll make friends quicker and easier that way, as no one wants to be friends with the loner stuck in their room all night…
10. Get as much free stuff as you can
You will get handed thousands of leaflets, vouchers, badges, keyrings, etc during your student life, mostly during Freshers Fayre. Take all that you can hold and sort it all out later. During my Freshers Fayre, I got Harvester BBQ Sauce, a free Nando’s meal voucher, loads of discounts for various clubs, pubs, shops and restaurants, a free stressball, a free pint glass, two free badges, free entry to a few clubs, free sweets, and a membership card to a gym. Keep an eye out for offers and events on campus. You’ll be skint, so free stuff = win.
11. Make the most out of pre-drinks
Of course, not everyone will be drinking alcohol and you don’t need to drink to have fun, party or make friends, but if you do drink, get drunk during pre-drinks. It saves you money and makes the night more fun. Going to a club sober is a horrific experience.
12. Plan your meals
This is fairly boring, but it does mean you won’t buy too much or too little food for the week. Think about the meals you want to eat for the week and just buy what you need! It saves money and means you won’t be trying to fix up dinner with a cucumber and some beans. Also, make sure that you’re eating fruit and vegetables as well and not just beans on toast and Domino’s.
13. Save the numbers for taxis, doctors and uni maintenance/IT
Taxis are essential to getting home after a night out, unless the clubs are very close to your flat. Having a saved number means you won’t have to worry about finding a taxi on the street. You should be able to register for a local GP on your move-in day, who will probably give you a leaflet with appointment numbers and so on. It’s a good idea to have these saved on your phone just in case. When you move in, it’s likely that there will be a problem in your room, whether it’s setting up the internet or a leaky tap. You’ll be given a welcome pack with this information in, but save it on your phone as well, for the future.
14. Don’t let your room/kitchen get too messy or dirty
You should be tidying your room as you go along so it stays neat, especially if you’re going to be leaving your door open. If you have a messy room, it’s more difficult to sleep and you won’t be able to invite guests in. Also, if you have an en-suite, it goes without saying that you should make sure you clean that regularly as well. Because… ew. Keep on top of your washing up (otherwise everyone will hate you) and make sure you tidy up if you make a mess on the hob or sideboards.
15. Be nice! But not TOO nice…
Your flatmates will probably become your besties and the people you’ll want to live with again, so avoid arguments! If you have a problem with something or someone, have a quiet word with them and sort it sooner rather than later and don’t bitch about it to the others. Also, there’s a good chance that you’ll find someone attractive in your flat. My number one rule for living together is DO NOT SLEEP WITH YOUR FLATMATE. It’ll be the most awkward thing ever, for you and for the others.
16. Actually do some studying
First year doesn’t usually actually count towards your degree (I know, it’s annoying if you get a good grade) but do as much studying as possible – you need to set yourself goals and stick to them, even if it’s just practice for next year. It can be hard to study when there’s so much going on and so many people living next to you, but university is about the degree at the end of the day, so make sure you put the effort in.
17. Enjoy yourself
You’ll never have as much freedom at university as you do this year. The grades don’t count, you don’t have to worry about travelling to lectures, there’s so many students in one place and you’ll most likely have weekly cleaners. Get drunk, have fun, kiss strangers, dance all night, eat crap food, and make friends.
If you’re moving into Halls soon, let me know and feel free to ask me anything you want about my experience!