Written by Victoria Skala, studying Human Sciences BSc
Moving into halls can be a daunting experience. Not only are you starting a new degree, at a new university, but it’s your first time living away from home. While everything may seem very overwhelming at first, do not worry! With time, things will fall into place.
To put your mind at ease, here are my 10 top tips on how to survive life in halls, taken from my experience staying at Schafer House in first year.
Get to know your surroundings
UCL accommodation blocks are spread all throughout the heart of London, so take time to get to know the area you’ll be living in. It never hurts to know where your nearest Lidl and Aldi are, especially if you’re trying to save money – and your nearest Pret, of course. With this also comes your journey to UCL, which you will become very familiar with – find out the cheapest travel option to make your journeys more efficient.
Get to know your flatmates
If you are in an accommodation where you will be sharing a kitchen and/or bathroom, introduce yourself to your flatmates! This is definitely an easy way to make friends, and will make living together a lot easier. It’s worth making a WhatsApp/Facebook Messenger group just with these people in for ease of communication.
Remember you are not living alone
Whilst you are now an independent adult living away from home, keep in mind that you are in a shared space with others. This may mean compromising shower/cooking times and cleaning up after yourself, so prepare for this. Remember this is a common living space.
Divide up space
When you move in, make sure to divide up cupboards and fridge shelves with your flatmates, so that everyone feels comfortable and has access to what they need. Some halls have lockable cupboards, too, if you’re worried about someone nicking your peanut butter.
It’s also important to branch out of your flat! Living in halls is one of the most socially stimulating experiences, so definitely make the most of it. It may feel scary not knowing anyone, but remember everyone is in the same boat. Who knows, you could make friends for life!
Decorate your room
Inevitably, your social battery will need recharging at some points, and being away from home at these times isn’t always easy. We all have certain things that give us comfort and remind us of home, whether that’s photos, a pillow, or a stuffed animal. Make your room your own, this is your space, so use it!
Keep track of your laundry days
We’ve all run out of clean socks before – but this is something you should not make a habit. Try to keep track of which days are best to do your laundry and just get it done; you will thank yourself later.
Learn to cook
Cooking isn’t everyone’s strong suit, however it is a vital skill to have when surviving life away from home. You don’t have to make complicated meals, but knowing how to boil pasta and not burning your toast will make life a lot easier. Plus, it can be a fun way to bond with friends.
Keep track of your expenses
Freshers is such an exciting time, and you should definitely enjoy it. However, all the going out can be very expensive and leave a big dent in your bank account. Make sure you are aware of how much you are spending to avoid having to reach into your overdraft (we’ve all been there!).
Don’t feel pressured!
Finally, don’t feel pressured to attend every single social gathering and event. I remember having FOMO when I would occasionally skip a party or gathering, especially being able to hear music and people all around me. But remember that time for yourself is very important, too, and you will have many more opportunities to socialise.
Hopefully reading this has given you some insight into what to expect from your first year in halls. My biggest piece of advice is to relax and not worry too much. UCL is an exciting place filled with so many great people, and with time you will find friends with whom you click. Put yourself out there, you won’t regret it, and enjoy your time in halls – it will be over before you know it!