Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Let's talk halls | Guest post by Jodie reads


Hi! I’m Jodie and I’m a second year English Literature student at the University of Plymouth. Last week, Kelly invited me to write a guest post on my experience living in halls as a part of her Freshers Week series, and I jumped at the chance. I loved my time in halls and I hope this little insight into my first year either re-ignites your love for halls or gets you excited for your first year in them! Living in halls gives you your first taste of independence in a really safe and secure way with millions of opportunities right at your fingertips, and if you get flatmates like mine, you’ll make some of the best friends you’ll ever have.

So, before I get into all the nitty-gritty juicy stuff, I’ll go over the general basics: in my foundation year of my degree, I lived in Beckley Point in Plymouth city centre. I lived in a mixed gender four person flat, where I had a twin sized bed and an ensuite bathroom. We all shared a kitchen and had full amenities as we were self-catered. We had a cleaner who came once a week which acted as a much-needed fairy godmother after a night out.

Let's get this one out of the way, because it is a stinger. One of the most severe cons of living in halls is the price. I paid £139 a week, and whilst it did include all of my bills (gas, electric and water), it didn’t include things like laundry and food, as our accommodation was self-catered. We had an on-site laundry facility, which was really handy as it meant we didn’t have to haul our laundry baskets to the closest laundrette, about a 15-minute walk away at the time. But, that also meant that it was super expensive, and a big chunk of my weekly budget did literally go down the drain. This is to be expected with most halls, but if you did want a cheaper alternative then definitely shop around, there’s so many options with student accommodation to fit almost any price point. The most important thing to keep in mind is that living in student accommodation is what you make of it, and really, as long as you have somewhere that feels like home, it doesn’t matter how much you pay for it. 

Much like what you’ll find when you’re hunting for houses in your second or third years, student accommodation is really all about location, location, location. Will you live in a rat-infested kitchen because the house is literally thirty seconds away from campus? Or will you take the attic room in an eight-bedroom house and regret the long, hard journey to your room as you climb the Everest that is your stairs every day? (Spoiler alert: I did both of these last year, don’t do it.) Thankfully, my halls were located in a really great spot of the city, where I could literally see campus from my bedroom window and had a beautiful view of the sea from the other side of the building. I was really close to a local supermarket, and conveniently, my building had a coffee shop underneath it too - wonderful for those 9am seminars. As I opted for a halls off-campus, I really lucked out with the location of Beckley Point, which was great. If you’re able to, visit your campus for an open day and attend a couple of tours of accommodations and see what one fits your needs the most. 

Another large part of your halls experience is majorly influenced by your flatmates. Living in halls gives you loads of chances to be super social with the other people in your building, but don’t get too bogged down if you can’t or don’t want to make everything; sometimes you just want to snuggle up on the sofa with a hot chocolate and watch some Game of Thrones, and, thankfully, my flatmates were up for that just as much as we were for a night out at the SU. That being said, one of the most important things you’ll learn when living in halls is to try and be accepting of others. It’s so important to keep in mind that the people you’re living with may not live in the exact same way as you, and that’s ok - actually, it’s really great. The flat will get messy, there will be nights where all you want to do is sleep the night before your early morning lecture and your neighbours are going out (remember, you will probably be making just as much noise every other night of the year), and your flatmates will definitely eat your food at least once. Trying not to let everything get on top of you is key and embracing that some things can’t be changed will help tremendously. Sometimes the sink will be overflowing with noodles and the bins won’t have been taken out for over a week. Cleaning charts will become the glue that holds the flat together.

One of my favourite things about living in halls was decorating my room the first week I moved in and adding my photos and little trinkets really made it feel like home. Familiarity with my surroundings is something that really calms any nerves so making my flat feel like mine felt almost ritualistic and really helped me settle in a lot easier, too. Filling your room with reminders of your most loved memories really go on a long way to make your room a safe haven from looming deadlines and weekly reading, so go all out with it.

Finally, I wanted to touch on the maintenance of my building. We had some really great facilities to make us feel safe and secure at all times, like a 24 hour reception and key fobs for the entrance and each section of the building. This was a great feature that I’m sure is universal across all halls; it makes you feel looked after, and really eases you into living on your own and gives your parents or carers some much needed peace of mind that you’re safe. Myself and my flatmates had some issues over some of the general upkeep of our building, but most issues were sorted out in a timely manner, which is one of the advantages of having a dedicated team downstairs at all times. Letting agencies, not so much on the dedicated front. Count your blessings in first year!

I hope everyone who has been moving into halls this past week has a wonderful time, and makes the most of it, it’s one of the best times of your whole university career. Soak everything up and enjoy freshers week, you’re about to have the ride of your life!

Thank you so much for reading, and you can find me over on my blog, jodiereads.weebly.com, or at @altjodie on Instagram for more.

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