October has arrived. This means that uni freshers is over and the reality of living and surviving on their own is finally settling in for a majority of the worlds young adults. The whirlwind of travelling from your childhood home to a new and exciting place, followed by getting absolutely hammered as soon as your parents leave your new gaff can whisk freshers through the first 2 weeks of uni without allowing them a second for self doubt. However, after this initial excitement fades, it’s perfectly normal to be left feeling a little…deflated? Now, I’m not saying this occurs for everyone so if you’ve just moved to uni and are now dreading this ‘moment’, please don’t. Some people may just find it harder to settle in to a new and unusual environment than others, and thats ok.
When I first moved to university last year I found my biggest problem was where I lived – halls. It’s very difficult to make uni accommodation feel like your own because, it’s not. They shuffle new students in year in, year out and sometimes there’s the stains to prove it. I wanted to centre this post around this feeling, the inability to settle in because you don’t feel at home. Like visiting an old relative you’ve almost forgotten, perching on the edge of the sofa, uncomfortable taking a beverage, shuffling your gaze around the room at the abundance of photos and recognising your own smile staring back but having no idea when that photo was taken, never mind who’s arm is around your shoulder.
Usually uni accommodation have a lot of rules about what you can and can’t do, which is a bit anti climatic compared to the ‘rock and roll’ lifestyle you were prepared to live as soon as you stepped out of your parents house. But these rules don’t mean you can’t create a small safe haven for yourself, even if it’s just for a year. Here is my short guide to surviving halls, enjoy…
Halls are completely lacking in personality and diversity. Every room is the same, just with a different view, so injecting some personality into your decor is vital if you don’t want to end up feeling like a chicken in a battery farm. This should occur very naturally as the things you own will all make up bit’s of your personality; sewing kits, instruments, posters, paintings, pictures. Once you’ve finished moving your things in, you’re room will look and feel different to your flatmates. If you’re struggling however, just think about what you want to do with the space you’re given? Are you going to be focusing on uni work? Or using it as an escape from the library? If you’ve chosen to live with other people your bedroom will be your only place to have time for yourself so make sure it’s somewhere you enjoy spending your time. You will always find fashion books and magazines scattered around mine and Sam’s flat, and Sam’s cameras are always displayed nicely on our shelf. Surrounding yourself with things you love is an easy way to help make the space feel a bit more, you.
Plants are such an easy way to give your room some colour and a bit of life, which you’ll need after that 2nd bottle of wine you drank at pre’s. Markets are my favourite places to wander in search for a new leafy friend, and the prices are amazing for students on budget; Sam and I picked up 7 different plants from the market for under £20 and they immediately added some personality to our bay windowsills. We plan to fill ours to the brim but if you’re not as plant crazy as us, just a couple on your desk will work a treat. Cacti and succulents are, of course, less high maintenance than other plants you’ll find, so if you know you’ll forget to water them I’d just stick to those spiky little suckers.
This tip is a bit out of the box compared to the others I’ll give. Writing things in a journal may seem a little high school to a lot of people, but I’m not talking about ‘Dear Diary’. Your new timetable, along with your sport socials, Harry Potter Society meetings and nights out, will come together to make a very busy schedule and you’ll need somewhere to write everything down. If you’re struggling getting out of your room and socialising with your flatmates write down the dates of freshers nights or flat parties you can all go to, if it’s on paper you won’t forget and you’ll have to go, because you know, it’s wrote down…it’s law. Diaries give you the chance to express yourself, even just by writing down a couple of goals for the day or my favourite, lists. Just having a journal nearby can relax me when I’m feeling bogged down with chores or stressed about deadlines. There are so many different types of journals, diaries and planners that it would be virtually impossible not to find one that suits your needs and aesthetics.
It’s ok to indulge in some pieces when you need that extra quality and know you’re going to get a lot of use out of them. For me, items I am more willing to spend a little more on are things such as bedding, jewellery boxes and electronics. If you like to keep your room minimal, spending money on lots of cheap items can result in an overload of stuff you don’t particularly need or want. Spending a little bit more on key decor pieces that you adore will leave you with a space that looks simple yet chic. For example, my vanity is where I spend a lot of my time, so I have used it to display some of my more pricey items – jewellery box, makeup products etc..
With that being said, I do not advise you to throw you’re entire student loan away on £300 bedding and a new coffee table for your shared living room. Everything is better in moderation. Halls usually have strict rules on burning candles, irritating I know, but there is no point spending a pretty penny on that Diptique candle you’ve been lusting over when you can’t even burn it. Instead, opt for some that will go with the rest of your room but don’t cost that much. Sam and I got both of ours from Primark and just leave them sat there, wick unlit…cry. If you’re spending more than usually would on one item, compensate by sacrificing overspending on another.
Bringing sentimental or important items with you is probably the easiest way to help transform your flat from an unoriginal and unforgiving space into a place you can take comfort and relax in. A majority of students will fill their walls with pictures of their family and friends from back home, leaving spaces to fill with new memories. If you know your going to miss home make sure you bring a piece of it with you, in any form you can. My mum, who’s a dab hand at sewing actually made me some pillow cases to take to uni, which was not only really cheap, but comforted me somewhat when I felt a bit homesick.
I hope this post has given some of you hope and inspiration while living in halls. If you require a little more scroll for some sneak peaks into mine and Sam’s humble abode and feel free to leave any suggestions you have to help liven up uni living spaces.