Student accommodation: make the most of it

Originally published by the now defunct UK site Byline in December 2011.

For me, moving into student accommodation was a daunting but exciting prospect.

Breaking away from the parents was at first difficult but I soon felt at home. Before I knew it, the tiny kitchen felt cosy and snug, and the appalling heating system – it’s either too hot or too cold, never in the middle – was nothing but the norm.

Most student residences I’ve seen will have the kitchen and living area as one room. One half will be devoted to chairs and a coffee table that will inevitably be used as a card table, while the other half will have a fridge, a microwave and an oven, as well as some other items you would expect in a basic kitchen.

However, unless you’re paying an obscene amount of money a week, there will, in all likelihood, be just one oven and one microwave. This causes problems because the majority of students will probably want to use these things at a similar time and, unless you have some sort of rota whereby one person cooks for everyone each day (which is asking an awful lot, especially for first year students), there simply isn’t enough room for everyone to ‘cook’ their microwaveable meals or oven chips.

My guide to preparing yourself for student accommodation:

  1. It isn’t too much to ask that everyone simply takes it turns to cook. But being honest, the takeaway around the corner is always more appealing than the microwaveable mashed potato.
  2. The living space is for everyone. The rule here should be: if you make the mess, you clean it up. But this rule is very rarely followed!
  3. Your room, on the other hand, is your space. You can do whatever you want in and with this space (within reason). The temperature of the room might not be perfect but you’ll get used to this, just as you’ll get used to the windows not shutting properly and the people below, across and above you making too much noise.
Living in student halls is the best way to meet new people – not only those in your flat, but also those in the flats around you. You can count on the course mates of everyone around you to spend a reasonable amount of time in your flat, too.

If you’re living in paradise, you’re not living – as a student – in the right away.

You’ll soon turn the flaws into some sort of twisted positive. Not having the heating on means you’re better braced for the cold when you get outside. The clothes sprayed across your bedroom floor mask the horrible colour of the carpet. And who really needs milk anyway?

Student accommodation is far from perfect, but you may as well make the most of it.

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