Living in student accommodation: A survival guide to living away from home  

Niffy is a final year Law student at City who moved to London for university, and is a self confessed BTS fan.

About me

My name is Niffy and when I was 19 I decided to move to London for university. Before starting university I lived in a small town in Ireland where everybody knew each other and I had never lived on my own before.

Having never lived on my own I was nervous about taking on so much responsibility but the idea of finally having my own room and starting a new chapter in my life was both nerve-wracking and exciting.

Kitchen Politics

In first year I lived in an accommodation called Liberty hall which was a six-minute walk from the main campus. (10/10 would recommend waking up at 8.30 for your 9 am lecture!)

At Liberty Hall, I was lucky enough to have my own bathroom and I shared my kitchen with 9 other girls but by the end of the year eleven of us ended up using the kitchen. Although eleven sounds like a lot we were all friendly with each other and we were usually in the kitchen at different times throughout the day. (I’m particularly guilty of cooking meals from midnight onwards).

I was lucky to get along with the girls in my kitchen and some of us would even meet up to make dinner or go explore the city together because none of us had grown up in London.

In second year I was again lucky enough to have my own bathroom but this time I was in a flat with seven people. This year my kitchen situation didn’t start off as smooth as last time and we had many passive-aggressive post-it notes popping up at the beginning of term. Living with strangers meant we all had different habits and expectations of each other. One mistake we made as a flat was that we never formally met up together and that led to a lot of tension but after an impromptu meeting to deal with a missing freezer drawer things were a lot better and we even went out together once or twice afterwards.

Food wars

I can say with confidence that cooking takes up the second spot on my biggest enemies of accommodation list coming second to loneliness and slightly beating laundry by a slim margin. Here are my top tips for cooking at university for students who are starting out their kitchen careers.

  • Have patience

I’ve lost too much garlic bread to the war of forgetting I put something in the oven because I’m too impatient to wait in the kitchen.

  •  Meal Prep. Meal Prep. Meal Prep 

Having a plan of what you’re going to eat makes life so much easier because you know what to buy and you won’t waste time thinking of what to have for dinner. BBC do great student-friendly recipes and there are lots of videos which break down cooking into manageable steps.

  •  Measurements are the key to success 

I’m still trying to grasp the concept of a pinch of salt because no matter what I do I end up with a bowl of salty stir fry or bland bolognese and no in-between which is very frustrating.

Laundry Chronicles

As I mentioned earlier laundry came number three on my list of biggest enemies of accommodation. Back home doing my laundry was no big deal because my washing machine was in my kitchen and more importantly, I could clean my clothes for free.

Most student accommodations use a company called circuit laundry to provide laundry services to students and getting used to carrying my laundry all the way from my room to the laundry room is more than enough to discourage me from washing my clothes by colour and texture like I was used to back home.

You can’t run from responsibility

One of the biggest lessons I learned from living in student accommodation was how to be independent and responsible. If you don’t do it yourself it won’t get done.

If I didn’t do my shopping on time I had no food or if I left the dishes to “soak” overnight they’d still be there tomorrow because they were my responsibility and you can’t run from responsibility (believe me I’ve tried).

Although getting used to being responsible for yourself takes a bit of trial and error it’s a great experience full of fun days, long nights and everything in between.

Student accommodation is a great way to transition to being on your own and if you get the opportunity I hope you can learn something from my experience.

Want to know more about student accommodation? Find out about City’s accommodation offer or look on other university’s websites.

Watch the Unilife video about the living at university.

Read about the student accommodation experience written by a student from the University of Dundee.

You can also read Niffy’s first year survival guides to university here:

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