Moving into student accommodation can be a daunting process, especially if it is your first time living away from home or living by yourself. Equally challenging is knowing what to pack. Graduate Christina Vassell has some advice.
Only bring what you need
Generally speaking, the first thing to remember when packing is to only bring what you need and to travel light.
- Health and wellbeing – medication, mini first-aid kit, laundry bags, washing and cleaning products such as antibacterial wipes
- Electronics – laptop and printer, speakers, headphones, adapters, chargers and extension leads
- Bedding – bedsheets, duvets, bed throws, blankets, pillows and pillow cases
- Bathroom and maintenance – toiletries, bath mat, towels, cutlery, mugs, clothing, hangers, (mini) irons, hair-dryers and hot water bottles
- Course materials – stationery, academic diaries or planners and notebooks
- Important documents – personal ID such as driving licence and passport, bank account details including debit or master cards, national insurance details for part-time work, medical details of your GP, dentist and other health/medical services, and any confirmation letters of enrolment and any monetary documents such as student loan information
Tips for making your living space feel more homely
My top tip for making your living space feel more homely is to accessorise. Personalisation is key to transforming your living space into your own by adding your personal style, tastes and touches.
You can fix a DIY lighting system by fitting fairy lights around the window or walls to even placing artworks, inspirational quotes and diffused scents around the room. Anything that makes your room feel like a reflection of who you are will make you feel more at home.
Having pictures of family, friends or meaningful imagery on your walls and tables within reaching distance is also an ever-present comfort. These give reassurance that you are not alone, especially if you begin to feel homesick.
Another tip for making your living space feel inviting, homely and safe is to aim for a minimalistic, uncluttered appearance so that you don’t feel claustrophobic. Remember, your living space will also be the zone in which you may find yourself engaged with demanding work. Having an uncluttered environment will make you think clearly, sleep better and increase your productivity.
Aside from décor, having practical items such as a calendar, notice board and a designated area for books or course materials is an effective way of organising your space. You will be more conscious of deadlines, schedules and other important plans.
Basic rules for accommodation – dos and don’ts
Any guest or visitor that you bring on site will need to sign a visitor’s form. A general rule is that visitors are also allowed to stay for a maximum of two nights out of the week. The only exception is during the first weekend of term as it is not practical to have guests staying over as other flatmates are trying to settle in.
It is also expected that you let your flatmates know, out of courtesy, if a visitor will be staying over. They will be using the same facilities as your flatmates. The same can be said for flat parties. Be mindful of your group and monitor noise levels so that it does not disturb or create a hazardous environment for your flatmates.
Avoiding extra costs
When you move into student accommodation, one of the first things to take note of is obtaining a TV licence. A TV licence is required for anyone who watches live TV broadcasts or BBC programmes on iPlayer (live, catch-up or on demand) even in their room. It doesn’t matter what device you use to watch these programmes. If you are found to not have a licence and are watching TV in your room, you are at risk of being fined up to £1,000 plus court fees.
Other fees to avoid are damage costs. When you move out, it is important that you make sure to leave your room clean and undamaged. You must also make sure that all communal areas are clean and tidy before you leave. You may be charged a minimum of £25 per person if there is any damage or cleaning required once you have left.
How to make meeting your flatmates stress-free and easy
Whether you are new or a returning student, you will find that living in halls offers great opportunities to socialise and relax both during and beyond Freshers. Halls are a home for all students.
Throughout the first few weeks in halls, many students and halls residents attend Freshers events around the city and campuses. So why not connect with your flatmates to find out what is on and potentially make arrangements to go out together sometime. Although this may sound daunting, most students are up for a good time and so another person joining in with the fun will make the outing more memorable.
And, if you find yourself trying to grapple the change in environment, being a part of a diverse and friendly community also means that there are many in-house events at other neighbouring halls to enhance your social life in a casual setting.
You will find that on-site common rooms are great places to meet new people and ease any apprehensions about starting university. Common rooms usually house equipment ranging from pool tables to TVs as a source for entertainment, which are great ways to bond with other students coming in and out.
My favourite place is the kitchen. I always say that a dish tells its own story even if it is a cheap-eat recipe! I have enjoyed many encounters with different people – talking about our backgrounds, cultures and experiences – all while preparing or consuming a meal. And if, like me, you have discovered that leftovers from your dish has gone for “walkies” then at least you know that you have made a future friend and mastered the craft of cooking in one take!
A typical week living as a student
A typical week for me begins catching the bus to the main site for lectures or study sessions in the library. Fortunately, buses are free to all students who present a valid student ID and are conveniently run between the different accommodation buildings, the University sites and city centre. So getting around Derby is quite easy and I find the transport links to be unparalleled.
I do, however, also find walking to be a great way to clear my head, especially if I have little to no errands to do or to even have a breath of fresh air. Fortunately, again, the University sites are within walking distance of each other and the city centre. So sometimes it is worthwhile having a stroll, especially if you want to discover hidden gems such as the wall mural created by Art graduates at Chandos Pole Street.
After lectures, a typical evening can range from further study to watching and streaming a film or show with either flatmates. For me, other aspects of socialising include going out for food, societies, watching a production at Derby Theatre and connecting with other students on the show The Top Floor that airs on BBC Radio Derby.