As some of you know, I’m currently studying politics at QMUL. Being in London makes the process of housing slightly different but, as Queen Mary is a campus university, my experience has probably been very similar to universities that aren’t in London. I chose the mid-range accommodation and got a place easily and now this is where I live.
I share my flat with 5 other people. Before I came to uni, I was expecting my flat-mates to be my best friends. I’d planned out in my mind that we’d have pizza nights and always pre-drink together, but this literally has never happened. I don’t dislike my flat-mates (apart from one but I won’t tell that story until the year’s over), we just don’t have a lot in common and so we’ve made other friendship groups and the only contact I have with them is if we’re making dinner at the same time or passing on the stairs. It’s fine, just not what I expected.
While I’m not friends with the people in my flat, having the friends I’ve made on my course so close by living in a student village makes socialising a dream. A text of ‘does anyone want to come over for drinks?’ can have your kitchen brimming with life in minutes. Most of my friends live within a minutes walk away. It means that you’re never too far away from home so if you die at pres you can quickly make it back to your own flat to vomit. (Can confirm this has happened to me before.)
I have some friends who commute to uni everyday, either from home or off-campus accommodation and they hate not living in halls. They feel like they’re missing out and want to be in on the action which is something I empathise with. Even people who live in Stratford (one tube stop from Mile End) feel like they’re missing out, that the grass is greener on the other side. They might be right – but they might also be very wrong.
Halls are definitely an eye-opener to how disgusting human beings can be. Whether it’s breaking a glass and not picking it up, leaving it on the ground for anyone to step on, or leaving their mouldy tupper-wear on the microwave some of my flat-mates have made me realise this. I’m not an overly OCD person but I do like things to be clean. Sure, I might leave my washing up out for a day or two but I’ve never left the sink blocked with peppers and water over-flowing onto the floor. Luckily, we don’t have to share a bathroom but I’ve heard horror stories of gammy plasters that have made my stomach churn.
And in my halls it’s not just humans you have to worry about… Yeah, that’s right… We have vermin. One night, I was relaxing on my bed after a hard day of doing nothing and out of the corner of my eye I saw something move. I turned my head and that’s when I saw it… a little brown mouse running across the floor. Obviously I panicked and messaged my friends immediately asking them what I should do. They were really helpful and suggested naming it (I named him Tim) but Housing Services were so unhelpful and asked me why I was scared of something so small – which is what they did again when we found one in the kitchen.
Halls are also LOUD. I probably get two nights uninterrupted sleep a week due to the sheer amount of noise that comes from the smoking shelter that’s right next to my window, as well as the noise from the rooms of one of my less considerate flatmates and his rowdy friends. I suggest getting ear plugs. Our housing hub gives them away for free and they are honestly life-saving. As soon as it gets a little loud outside, I pop them in and sleep like a baby.
People also steal your stuff – like all the time. I’ve been at uni for just over 6 months. I started with 6 glasses and I now have 2. Where have they gone? Who knows… Someone probably used them and forgot to return them or broke them and didn’t want to owe someone £1. That’s student life. Luckily my fridge is in my room so people don’t really steal my food and most of my flatmates don’t actually cook (half of them are pretty wealthy so eat out constantly) so food theft isn’t an issue but utensil-gate is real and it is happening.
Halls are expensive. I pay around £150 a week for basically a bed, desk, bathroom and use of a basic, communal kitchen. However, private accommodation is more expensive and other than that in London, there isn’t much choice for students.
With all these negatives, you’d think I hate living in halls. I actually don’t. I think it’s been quite the experience and will oddly miss my little room when I have to move out. I am glad I will be moving into a flat with Johnny though and not into student housing – at least I know he won’t be stealing my stuff. However, we’re renting in London so we might still have vermin…
So, if you’re looking to go to uni in September, I would definitely recommend halls. They’re really fun and who knows, you might have the cleanest, un-klepto-like flatmates ever and live in halls without vermin – but if not, I still guarantee you’d have the best time.