This month lets discuss accommodation!
For a lot of you starting university will also mean living away from home for the first time. Independence! Both exciting and terrifying. If you come from abroad, the move will be even more significant, with the added twist of a new culture. Whether you’re moving across the country or across a border, accommodation is a new feat inevitably tied to uni. So, let us break down the options.
Broadly speaking, there are two paths: residences/halls or private renting.
The most obvious option, reinforced by every cliché university film ever made, are student halls. We’ve all imagined ourselves in a frat house on an American campus, cycling through the streets lined with student houses, having BBQs in the back garden… Unfortunately, British reality is a little different, but not without charm.
In the UK student accommodation is divided into two types, university-specific halls (in our case King’s halls) or Intercollegiate halls. Both the same concept but run a little different.
King’s halls are residences owned by the university and offered exclusively to King’s students. There are 12 different residences spread throughout the city. To check them out click here. The advantages of King’s halls are their prime location, most of them very close to campus, and social life. You’re constantly surrounded by King’s students which makes it easy to join societies with flatmates, commute together, etc. However, there are a couple of downsides, for example, they’re not catered, meaning you have to cook for yourself (pot noodles anyone?) and depending on your budget they can be a bit expensive.
Then there are intercollegiate halls. These are residences open to students from any London university. They tend to be cheaper as the majority are non-ensuite. Most of them are also catered, so one less thing to worry about in that aspect! The wider pool of potential flatmates also means you’re likely to meet a wider range of people. However, they won’t be as conveniently located in relation to King’s campuses (although they still tend to be central). For more on intercollegiate halls, check out here.
The final option, private renting, is pretty much what it sounds like, finding a flat/house and renting from a landlord. The perks of this are potentially nicer facilities, more flexibility in location, the option of non-student flatmates, and greater freedom (no night guards to stumble into after a night out). On the other hand, it lacks the social life of student halls and it may be harder to find affordable renting close to campus. Good websites if you’re considering renting your own place are Zoopla, SpareRoom, and RightMove.
Both of us are international students and chose King’s halls mainly based on the social aspect, wanting to be surrounded by students and university staff to make the transition easier. We each stayed in different halls, so here’s a lil recap of our experiences:
Marta: During my first year I stayed at Stratford One. I lived with 8 other students from different courses at King’s, which was a great first step to meet people in a new country! Living in student residences was a really important milestone in my life as I had to learn a lot about myself while I became more independent. There was a lot of managing things like housekeeping chores, figuring out my own routine, and finding ways to push through homesickness with many cups of tea and great late-night talks with my little flat family! The most helpful thing for me was to put myself out there and attend the events that were being held by my residence or other university groups to get to know new people. I’m really grateful for the experience of having lived in residences as I felt really supported by the university in what could have been a more challenging time.
Liv: I decided to go for King’s halls as I figured it would be easier to get to uni. Luckily I got Wolfson House which turned out to be the perfect combination of both location and price! It’s the cheapest accommodation offered by Kings and being right next to guys hospital it’s basically ON CAMPUS. It took me literally 3 minutes to walk to lectures every morning (although that didn’t stop me from being late…). The downside was non-ensuite rooms, which meant I was sharing toilets and showers with my 11 flatmates (not as bad as it sounds I promise). The building has 15 floors each divided into two flats, one for post-grad students and the other of undergrads. Each undergrad flat has 12 rooms (all non-ensuite), 3 toilets, 3 showers, and a kitchen. This may not sound like a lot, but I must admit I didn’t have to wait to use the toilet or shower once. Everyone in my flat was doing a different degree so we all had different timetables and routines. The kitchen got a bit crowded in the evenings and there was a bit of a war for fridge shelves, but it’s all part of the halls’ experience! The building is located right behind the shard so if you were lucky and got a room in the top flats (I was in flat 14!) then you also have an amazing view! I met so many different people who studied different degrees, from all over the world, and the atmosphere was amazing.
Once you finally decide on a choice of accommodation, the way you settle in is very important in determining your experience. Our advice is: Firstly, in the months leading up to university, try out some student-friendly recipes! It can be so easy to get caught in the hype and excitement of it all, and the first few months can be a lot easier if you are feeding yourself properly and healthily. Secondly, Skype is your best friend! Try to find a time to talk to your family or friends from home to keep them updated, it will be a great way to adapt to the newness of the situation and they may also have some great tips. Lastly, while it can be quite daunting to move in on your own, everyone is on the same confused boat trying to figure out adult life, so might as well have a blast while you’re doing it!