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What is living in halls really like?

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You’ve heard it a thousand times before; the best years of your life are when you’re at university. More specifically, your first year, when you’re living in halls of residence.

Having only seen portrayals of life in halls through the lens of cheesy American movies, I really had no idea what to expect when I arrived. Considering that most of us have never lived alone before (or cooked a meal for ourselves, in a surprising amount of cases), the idea of leaving your creature comforts and living in halls of residence for a whole year can be a pretty terrifying prospect. But fear not – here’s all you need to know about the good and the bad of life in halls.

Remember everyone’s the same

Let me first calm your worries about the most pressing question most of us have about moving into halls. Will I make friends? The answer is yes, yes and yes. Remember, everyone is in the same boat and is wanting to find like-minded people. Never in my life have I found teenagers be so friendly and forthcoming than in my first term living in halls. It’s completely normal to be stood outside a lecture hall and start chatting with a complete stranger waiting to go into your lecture. Meeting this way can easily – and in my case, has – lead to a long-lasting friendship. Forget the haughty glances high school and college taught you to throw at your peers, just smile, and remember that everyone else is in your position.

Getting to grips with independence

Living in halls is most likely the first time in your life that you’ll be able to be completely independent. For most, this sense of freedom is exhilarating; shall I sleep in until 2pm? Shall I spend all day binge-watching Netflix? Shall I eat two packets of biscuits for dinner? Shall I do my clothes washing at 3am? You can (and most likely will) do all of these things, and you’ll have no nagging parent to tell you that you’re not allowed. Granted, after a term or two you’ll probably realise that you should actually cook a decent meal for yourself, and when you do, you’ll have the amazing realisation that you’re actually all grown up and stuff and haven’t killed yourself by accident already. Because that’s all adulthood is, right?

The problems

Depending on your halls of residence, there’ll be a plethora of nuisances which you could never have expected, and which become the main topic of those whining conversations you have with your friends (squeezed in there among that girl/guy in your seminar you really like, how many times per week you’re going out, and how many lectures you’ve definitely not attended). An almost universal one of these halls-related annoyances is the fire alarm. In my halls, we were subjected to a 10am fire alarm every Tuesday. Now this was not your normal alarm; it was an ear-bursting shrill that made me jump awake and wonder whether the world was ending.

This is just one among the many that will become a significant source of exasperation at your time in halls – think along the lines of a sink that’s continuously clogged with food, maybe the fact that you can hear the conversations of everyone in a 50 foot radius because your walls are so thin, or perhaps your window only opens 10 centimetres because you’re on the ground floor and “it’s for your own safety” (yes, safety is definitely my concern when it’s the middle of summer and you could fry an egg on my bedroom desk).

But in all honesty, however easy it for me to complain about living in halls, I’m just trying to assuage the nostalgia that rises every time I think of my time there. If you’re not far from living in halls of residence, all you have to do is go in with an open mind, and a smile on your face. If you do, it probably will be the best year of your life. Just remember to use strong cleaning products…

Any more advice on living in halls? Tell us below!

Photo: University of Exeter / Flickr

Bethan McGrathWhat is living in halls really like?

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