One of the strangest, but most distinctive, things about going to University is the way in which you are dropped into Halls to live with other 18-19 year olds who you have never met. Each Halls of Residence is different in it’s own way. Let us tell you about the places you will be calling home for the next year. We’ll show you around in a manner far more benevolent and filled with lazy stereotypes than the Fresher’s Reps ever could. By the end of the first week, you will be convinced of the inherent superiority of the Halls you live in. Unless you’re in Bencraft.
We start off our tour with Montefiore, known as Monte to absolutely everyone and their mums. Claiming to be one of the largest halls of residence in Europe, Monte boasts architecture that will remind you of your crummy secondary school (if you went to private school, the workhouse from Oliver Twist will do) mixed with a Victorian era prison, with living conditions to match. If you’re on the right-hand side of the road, you’ll probably be ok eventually. If you are in the huge ugly block on the left, the reputation for having the wildest parties in Fresher’s will be dead by the end of November and you’ll be stuck in squalor.
Down the road, with the biggest egos and smallest reason for them, is Connaught. Connaught is like Monte but marginally nicer to look at and it’s catered. The food in Connaught infamously contains a few bits of extra protein. Jokes about slugs in lettuce will never be quite as funny again. As you spend more time at Southampton, the 3rd years in ‘Connaught Rangers’ hoodies will become a source of irritation to you, as the size of the collective ego would be impossible to fit in both of the Quads combined.
The other large halls, Glen Eyre, is similarly egotistical. Claiming to be the best in every regard, as well as the ‘original’ halls, one imagines that Glen’s claim to fame would be better if any of the blocks were actually visible from the road. As it is, all outside the Glen bubble have literally no concept of where the place is or what it means. Research missions ended in the scientists being abducted for mediocre pre-drinks.
Next to Glen Eyre is Chamberlain, which is to Halls in Southampton what Belgium is to European politics. The mere mention of the place results in mass headscratching and cries of “Who? Where?” due to an unfortunate location next to a larger and more recognisable neighbour. Someone probably says something like ‘my cousin visited there’, reassuring all that the place is not mythical. Despite having probably the best location of all the Halls, the precise location is a secret known only to those who live there. Their peers have a hazy idea that it’s somewhere in Highfield, you know, the bit near Portswood that’s a bit fancier. Rumour has it that this is a catered hall, similar to Connaught, but on the other end of the ego spectrum, with the average Chamberlain resident happy that somebody knows about them.
In Portswood proper, we have Archer’s Road. Nobody picks Archer’s Road as their first choice. This is because they look at a map of Southampton in relation to campus. This is irrelevant because nobody from Archer’s Road has ever made it to campus. Everybody looks on in envy at how close their halls are to Jester’s, a privilege that most don’t feel until 2nd year, a time when the workload means cutting Jester’s down to once a week instead of four times.
Heading further towards the city centre, we find Mayflower. Mayflower has arguably the best facilities of all the halls – with rents to match. It’s quite hard to find out who your neighbours are when you have few shared facilities, so although you’re probably living somewhere nicer than your family does, you’re missing out on the student squalor that makes up such a huge part of being in Halls in any university. Don’t mention the gym or the shop to any of the previous residents, who we are told spend half their time crying in the shower about lack of a Waitrose within 200 metres or writing snarky comments on the internet about said deprivation.
Finally, it’s grim up North Southampton. Bencraft, with charming views over a crematorium and accessible on a bus that is often like the last helicopter out of Saigon, is an exception to the others. Researchers have yet to find a resident or former resident who took pride in Bencraft. The blandness of the halls and the location next to the crematorium makes Bencraft semi-legendary in grimness. To be fair it’s not quite as run-down as some of the older blocks in Monte or Glen.
Whichever halls you end up in, you wouldn’t have it any other way. Have fun in halls, you only get to do it once!