So you didn’t get into your first choice of halls. Whether that’s the infamous Glen Eyre, known to be the central hub of all first year life, or Mayflower, the newly built but slightly distant halls, slapped bang in the centre of the city. You find yourself filled with excitement and nerves at the prospect of moving away from home for the first time, but also find yourself disappointed about being located in a small hall, that you’ve never heard of and it’s already tainted your view of your university experience.
But honestly, forget Glen Eyre. Lose all preconceptions of what you think, or what you have been led believe are the ‘best’ halls to be in for first year. Because I’ll let you in on a little secret…
Your halls don’t matter.
When you get to Southampton, you’ll soon realise that actually, the reputation of the halls don’t come from their facilities; whether that’s Glen’s rolling lawn, Monte’s maze of blocks, or Mayflower’s gym. It’s from those living inside its very walls. When my year joined the Southampton cohort, Glen Eyre Halls were sold to us as the place to be. Everyone I ended up meeting in halls applied there, yet only a fraction of those who apply get in. We found that none of us had applied to the halls we eventually ended up in. And most of us had never even heard of Archers Road. Being located half way between the uni and the city centre was prime for first year! With both a Sainsbury’s local and a Co-Op just down the road, we were never going to be short of mixer… or the occasional two litre bottle of Lambrini.
With the overwhelming potential to not enjoy your halls experience, it’s key to find some like-minded people to hang around with, and you’ll be guaranteed to have a great time, no matter where you might live. It’s a given that you won’t get along with all your flatmates, but they’re not the only people you can spend your time with.
In my friends’ and my experience, we all knew that we had scraped the bottom of the barrel with our halls. But we weren’t going to let our position stop us from experiencing university to the full. Archers Road were tiny halls in comparison to the likes of Glen, Monte and Mayflower, but somehow, it’s smaller size made the first year experience just that little bit better. The walk between flats were less than a minute long. The intimacy was overwhelming, but at the same time, a great ploy to get you to spend time with better, and not cooped up in your bedroom alone.
We understand that some of you may not like drinking, going on nights out or just the general laddish behaviour. But people are quite understanding if you’re honest with them about it. Showing your face at pre-drinks and listening to some Year 9 tunes is a great way to get yourself integrated, without having to spend your night regretting your drunken actions. Nights out are a given during freshers, and although you may not find yourself going out every night, you’ll find yourself spending time with those you drank with the previous night. Your night friends become your day friends, and ultimately they just become your friends altogether. You’ll live, drink, and breathe each other until the time comes to leave university for summer.
It’s key to make sure that even though you may be disappointed that you don’t have an en-suite bathroom, a large kitchen, or a certain number of people living in your flat, you are happy with where you are living. That might mean you have to find friends who live in a different flat, or block, or even on your course, meaning that they are more than likely to be spread out all across the city than you’d like. But you make the effort, because otherwise, you may lead a very isolated experience. And after all, university is about stepping outside your comfort zone, being friends with people you probably would never have met if you hadn’t come to university, and sometimes, making decisions you usually wouldn’t.
A good way to cement friends, I hate to say it… is to have a TV in your room. Having a luxury such a Netflix, or even an Xbox, will bring people together like a horse drawn to water. Offering to cook dinner together, or chipping in for a late night Dominoes after a heavy night of boozing are just the kind of things that bring people closer, without you actually realising it. You’ll get to learn their weird habits, learn to love them or hate them, or just tolerate them.
Making sure you’re happy in your home for the next year is honestly, so unbelievably important that I can’t emphasise it enough. Even if that means you find yourself changing flats, or even halls, in the November or January moving period. You are bound to find some people you can enjoy the company of, even if it takes a while. Your comfort and happiness is the most important thing for you to thrive in an environment you’ve been thrown into.
Branch out, meet new people during freshers, it’s the perfect time! Everyone’s buzzing to be at university, and they all just want to have as much fun as you. So join them. Make your way through the hundreds of people than will line the corridor of your flat, crowd your kitchen to the point where you lose the 5 people you actually know, and find those people you’ll just click with. Whether they’re drinking cider out of a Jerry Can around the table playing ‘Never Have I Ever…’ or having a cigarette outside, meeting people they’ll probably never see again.
No matter where you live for the next year, remember, it’s not the end of the world. And that your halls won’t be the best, but that doesn’t matter.