Following my previous post with 10 reasons why you should live on Campus, this post balances that perspective with why living on Campus might not be the best idea. As with everything in life, there are pros and cons to choosing a living space and that’s why this post takes a detailed look at the negative aspects of living on the University campus. Shall we?
- You Can’t Choose Who You’ll Live With
Nope. You don’t get to vet and select your flatmates in shared accommodation. Usually, flatmates are assigned by the accommodation office and you get no say in the matter. Some accommodation teams go the extra mile to ask about a preference (perhaps a need for a quiet hall or postgraduate halls) during the application process, and then group people with similar preferences together. But that’s as far as it goes. You’ll be expected to live amicably with your flatmates despite your differences. For this reason, this situation can easily become a real test of your patience. In my UK experience, it is easy to request to change your halls if the situation gets unbearable but whether you get a change is uncertain.
- Questionable Hygiene Standards
As I have explained above, if you are in shared accommodation, you don’t know these people, their culture, background or hygiene habits. From kitchens sinks stacked high with used, dirty and days-old crockery to slimy, mouldy shower curtains or hair in the bathroom drains, the list goes on. What you find absolutely disgusting could be no big deal for your flatmate. My point is, their hygiene standards may be higher or lower than yours and these differences could negatively influence if not destroy your relationship entirely. My Nigerian experience involved my flatmate, visibly upset, notifying me of a maggot in our kitchen sink. I got there to find that it was a strand of spaghetti. By the next day, the whole class heard the story of “the maggots in our sink”. Things got really heated between us but…I digress.
- It Can Feel Like a Trap
In my UK Experience, to get in, you sign a tenancy contract with the Accommodation Office for the duration of the school year. This means that you can’t get your money back if you leave, and even if you haven’t paid in full, you still owe the accommodation office following the terms of your contract. This debt (as with all debts to the school) will need to be paid by graduation to get your certificate. This is why you can’t easily move out if you are uncomfortable or dissatisfied for some reason.
- No Subletting
You could find someone willing to move in and pay you for the room (subletting). However, this is against the accommodation contract and you remain liable should anything go wrong. Occasionally, the Accommodation Office could find you a new room (if say the hall you were allocated was too noisy) but this depends on the availability of an empty room somewhere. Still, this empty room is very rear because the accommodation office works hard to fill up all the rooms at the beginning of the academic year.
- More Rules and Regulations
As you probably already guess, you have to abide by the rules and regulations set. Most of them are fair rules like no smoking or candles in the flat and no noise in the hallway. But the rule on room heaters got me. In addition, there are periodic room inspections which you will be notified about and your room will be accessed whether or not you are around. Items considered to be dangerous are confiscated. In addition, we were all called out by the Hall Representative and warned that making noise in halls during the exam could get us kicked out. I found all these to be invasive and quite childish, but I can understand why. In addition, emails reminding us to turn off the light, recycle properly, stop making noise or fill surveys were sent weekly. The emails are generic, sent out to all students in halls which made it feel like spam.
- Rent is Over before School is Over
This was a surprising discovery is specific to my UK experience. I just assumed my accommodation covered the full period of my study here. Turns out it only covers 41 weeks and exit notifications begin a full 6 weeks before your contract expires. This situation has been quite stressful because finding a house off-campus is a huge challenge at this time because most if not all the flats have already been rented. This is the point at which many students just pack up and return home, opting to submit their dissertation from their home country.
- No Alone Time
As the saying goes, too much of anything is bad. Despite being surrounded by friends sometimes you might crave solitude. This can be challenging. The ability to occasionally communicate your need for solitude is important.
- Distractions and Sleepless Nights
From fire alarms going off at 3am to drunk boys waking you up as they yell at the top of their lungs, staggering past your window and into the halls especially during the holiday season. These, in particular, drive me crazy.
- Missing or Stolen Items
Well, as we discussed earlier, you don’t know who you will be living with. Depending on who and how many people you live with, things could get misplaced or stolen intentionally and unintentionally. I say unintentionally because the other day I was cooking the cover of my pot mysteriously vanished. I searched high and low. The cover I spotted was similar but not mine. I gave up. A few hours later, the cover I had been looking for had reappeared leading me to think someone might have picked it by mistake thinking it was theirs. My advice; be slow to call anyone a thief.
You are very likely to get homesick in halls faster than you expect. You’ll miss your family and your own home. You’ll miss even the things you did not quite like about home. Home will feel so far away and will cost too much to visit even when you want to. Confined to this small room and a single bed, I really miss my room at home and my double bed.
Summarily, these posts are a compilation of my experience living in about 4 different shared accommodations and 2 off-campus locations. My current experience living in Greenow House in the University of Reading has been nothing short of pleasant. We set a happy and friendly tone on arrival and it has been so ever since. We help each other with little things through our WhatsApp group and celebrate our diversity through treats left in the common area. Nothing has been stolen, our kitchen has almost always been impeccable and we won an award for this. There have been no fights or arguments and overall, we’ve all been peaceful neighbours. This isn’t the case with every other flat and I wish you the best of luck in finding yours!
Are you an international student in the UK? What accommodation did you opt for? Let me know what you think in the comments!
As always, thank you for reading!
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