When most students start looking at universities, the flurry of excitement can often mean that they forget about the distance between home and their uni of choice. For lots of people, the opportunity to move away to uni is the chance to be independent from their parents and live in a new city.
Research shows that on average students tend to opt for unis about 91 miles away – or an hour and a half’s drive. For me, when I was applying for uni I drew a line above London that I didn’t want to cross. And, as it was, I ended up going to Southampton, less than 30 miles away, and a 25 minute drive from my home town of Portsmouth.
For lots of people being this close might seem claustrophobic, or make them feel as if they aren’t doing uni ‘properly’. But it’s nowhere near as bad as people might believe, and more than that, being close to home has some serious benefits.
First of all, independence isn’t really an issue. Just because you live close enough to your parents to pop home for coffee doesn’t mean they’re going to be intruding on your new found freedom. I’m lucky in that my parents would never want to stop me having fun, and wanted me to go off and enjoy my independence, whether that was half an hour away or on the other side of the world.
Secondly, going to uni so close to home doesn’t mean you miss out any of the fun. On the contrary, you still get to go out with your friends and join in with all the opportunities available, but you can still pop home for a roast on Sunday if you really can’t cure your hangover. For me, a big part of not missing out was living in halls as it meant I still got to make lots of friends, look after myself and immerse myself in the uni experience, whilst still being able to go home if the kitchen got too disgusting to step foot in!
Some of the bonuses that come from not straying too far from your home can be seriously handy. Being able to pop home for unlimited heating and free food is something all uni students living in freezing cold houses with mouldy food in the fridge can appreciate. If you’re lucky, your parents might even let you take back your dirty washing! So far the only downside I’ve found is that a 25 minute distance between my uni and my home town means it’s hardly worth putting ‘Portsmouth//Southampton’ in my Twitter bio.
Something that might not be perfect for everyone – but definitely feels like a bonus for me – is that going to uni close to home meant I had some prior knowledge of Southampton, such as the wonders of West Quay and the best bars in Bedford Place. However this didn’t stop me learning about Southampton’s hidden treasures – I’m looking at you Jesters.
Also, being close to home means it’s easier to maintain relationships with friends from home, something that can be a godsend when you’re drowning in uni work and need to get some head space away from it all.
Going to uni close to home definitely isn’t an option for everyone. A lack of choice in their surrounding area or a tense relationship with people at home can leave some students desperate to fly the nest. However going to uni on your doorstep really isn’t as bad as people would assume – in fact it can be the best of both worlds.