Moving away from home can be exciting and a bit scary. Not just for the young people, but for their parents, too! This Fresher’s guide to surviving in Halls is based on years of firsthand experience from someone who works in Halls with students year in, year out. He’s given me the inside scoop on what students need to know when they move in and the pitfalls to avoid during the year.
- Get to know your flat
- Learn which key unlocks which door
- Be careful who you let in
The first thing you have to get to grips with is the layout of your flat. Find out where it is, how the heating and water work and what to do with your keys. You could be issued with three keys and it’s important to know which key opens which door! Usually it’s a key to get into the block, one for the flat and the last one is for your bedroom.
The external door to the block will have a security intercom with a buzzer. Remember the security is there for a reason. If you buzz in strangers they could steal from unsecured bedrooms, so make sure you know who you let in.
Also learn how to lock your own bedroom door – very important when there’s a party. Unknown ‘guests’ have been known to steal money, cards and expensive electronics from bedrooms during parties. Keep the party in communal areas and unwanted guests out of your room. If one of your friends causes damage, you may have to pay for it. So, make sure you know the person you invite into the Halls.
Leave These At Home
- Don’t burn anything
- No cooking in bedrooms
- Shut bathroom and kitchen doors
- No pets!
Student safety is clearly a high priority in Halls. Candles, smoking, or anything else you can burn, including chip pans and deep-fat fryers are all forbidden. This also prohibits cooking in bedrooms and using things like sandwich-makers in any room other than the kitchen. As the smoke detectors are sensitive, be careful not to set them off. It’s a good idea to keep the door closed when you’re in the shower or cooking in the kitchen.
While we’re on the subject of forbidden items, you can’t bring any pets into Halls. If you try to smuggle one in you’ll be forced to get rid of it or be evicted. As the rental contract is for a year, you’ll have an early termination fee to pay, which could be around £400. Life in Halls just isn’t for animals, visit them in the holidays instead!
The Boring Stuff
- Speak to staff if you have problems
- Tell them if something’s broken or not working properly
- Register with healthcare professionals
- Get contents’ insurance
Do inform staff if you have any problems that they should know about. If you need a flat on the ground floor, perhaps due to mobility issues, or if you’re anxious, for example. On-site staff are there to help, but you need to tell them your concerns or requirements. You should report any issues with noisy or unreasonable neighbours earlier rather than later. The staff will get it sorted, after all, that’s their job. Maintenance issues are the same – let them know immediately if something in the flat is broken and they’ll fix it.
Register with the local GP and dentist before you need them – this avoids stress if you have an emergency. It also makes sense to get insurance for your belongings, just in case anything gets lost or stolen – better safe than sorry!
- Be drink aware
- Travel in groups
- Lock up when you leave
- Guard your ID
Freshers’ Weeks typically involve a lot of drinking games in Halls. This can be great fun and an effective way to get to know your flatmates, but you have to be smart about it. A hangover is not a pleasant experience when you’re in a new flat. Also, drugs can easily be slipped into drinks you’re not watching and you should be conscious of what to look out for. Enjoy the game, but be aware that you don’t really know the people you’re drinking with.
When you’re out at night it makes sense to travel with others, you’re in a new city and there’s safety in numbers. The university will give you a list of safe areas and you should stay in well-lit streets when you’re making your way home. Don’t use shortcuts through dark, quiet alleys or parks!
Keep your ID safe. You should shred bank statements or other official mail – these could be picked up and used to steal your identity. Shred them before binning. Remember to lock windows and doors before you leave Halls too, most burglars get in through open windows. The N.U.S. website has some useful personal safety tips.
Enjoy Your Freedom
Don’t let all this information put you off having a blast in your first year. This fresher’s guide to surviving in Halls is to help you avoid common mistakes that could cause you grief. Follow the advice, make new friends, discover a new city and even do a bit of studying!
When You Leave
The first year will fly by and suddenly it’ll be time to move out for the summer. Make sure you give any online retailers and Royal Mail your new address. Hall staff will not forward any mail or other items delivered once you’ve left. Get all your belongings moved out in time and have your tickets, boarding passes, etc. printed before you leave.
All you have to do now is get your flat for next year sorted out….