Top tips for living in halls

I remember results day like it was yesterday. I set an alarm the night before, for 6 o'clock, in the hope that UCAS would have published my results by then. Like many students I'm sure, I struggled to get to sleep and when I did, I kept waking up with anticipation. My alarm went off and I signed into UCAS as quickly as I could. I was so happy to find out that I was going to be attending my first choice of university, Reading (I cried).

I had so many thoughts going through my head at the time, that I don’t think I actually digested the reality that I was to attend university in a couple of weeks. I was relieved to discover that I was to be living in my first choice of accommodation too. I think most students are in the dark about how to sort out accommodation and what to take (well I was at least). I decided to create a list of top tips that would hopefully help you with some accommodation concerns and confusions. You must take into consideration that every university is different and some of these tips might not apply to your university.
1. You will not be told what accommodation you have got until you have received your confirmation email from your university.
2. Ikea is your best friend. It took me one trip to this wonderful store to buy most things that I needed for the kitchen and bathroom. Don’t get me wrong, I am that typical girl that likes picking up little bits and bobs for my room from independent shops, however, the main bulk of my university shopping was completed in Ikea.
3. Buy storage boxes as soon as you have got your accommodation acceptance email. This way, you can start popping little bits into the boxes rather than cluttering up your bedroom or house. You can pick these up from most supermarkets or budget retailers.
4. Check what hob your halls has. My accommodation was pretty new and had induction hobs, which mean that only induction pans would work on them. Quite a few of my friends bought normal pans that did not work.
5. You will need two of everything in your kitchen, well not everything. For example, I bought two forks, knives, plates, cups, mugs etc. This will be useful if a friend decides to visit or if you break an item.
6. Buy a doorstop. Keeping your door open when you move in is an easy way to make friends with the people in your flat. Also, it will allow air to let into your room as it can sometimes be quite stuffy.
7. Socialise with your flatmates, as you are all in the same position. You will not make friends if you shut yourself away in your room believing no one will want to bother or be your friend.
8. Put up some photos on your pinboard or if you have frames, put them on your desk. This will remind you of home and the people you miss and love.
9. I always used to keep a tin or a packet of biscuits or sweets in my room. This was just convenient if I fancied a snack.
10. Plants and candles (if allowed) add a freshness to your room.
11. Air freshener is your best friend. I think I went through like 4 cans of air freshener, not for the reason you think. It can get stuffy in your small room, so having air freshener at hand will give your room the fresh scent it needs.
12. Buy two sets of bedding so when you wash one set, you can put your spare set on whilst the other is drying.
13. Speakers are a must, especially during pres.
14. Learn to cook. This is a MUST. Admittedly, I have a wide knowledge of food however, I am aware that many students aren’t. Although microwave meals, super noodles and pasta are quick, they are not healthy and you will get bored with them throughout the year. I cooked a lot of chicken in the first year and used the ‘So Juicy’ marinade packs to make meals different. Also, my flat agreed to cook a communal meal now and again in order to get everyone in the flat talking and to have a catch-up.
15. Hangers! I didn’t realise that you had to take clothes hangers with you and only bought a few when I moved to Reading. I ended up hanging clothes on top of other clothes because I didn’t have enough hangers and lots of clothes got creased.
16. Tupperware, food boxes and freezer bags are useful if you make some food and want to keep some for the next day.
17. One way to save money is to buy a drying rack. Admittedly you may have a lot of washing that needs drying and you might not have space on a drying rack, however, it will save you some money over the course of the year.
18. I was that girl who thought they would be all Tumblr and buy some fairy lights to decorate my room. I had about two weeks of enjoyment out of them before the batteries ran out and I couldn’t be bothered to spend the money and effort going to buy them. So only buy them if you really want them.
19. Always do your washing up. If you decide that you really cannot be bothered to wash up and say “I’ll do it later”, let’s be honest – you will not do it. Dirty dishes will just annoy your flatmates.
20. Some universities offer a cleaning service (monthly, weekly) and the cleaners politely ask that the kitchen is in a suitable state to be cleaned. Make sure you do this as they can refuse to clean your kitchen if it is in no fit state to clean. On the other hand, if you do not have a cleaner then you will need to deep clean your kitchen as often as you can. This will prevent ants, bugs or rats in from entering.
21. Pack only essential clothes (I learnt this the hard way). I thought that I needed to pack my entire wardrobe because I didn’t know what students dressed like. It turns out they dress the same as everyone else. Literally anything goes! I haven’t personally seen this but I have heard stories from friends that some students turned up in pyjamas. So you really do not need to worry about looking your best for lectures.

22. Remember: When your parents wave goodbye, it is ok to cry. I think I balled my eyes out with my mum for a good twenty minutes before we both realised that I was going to be going home in a couple of weeks.

With this set-aside, I hope you have fun shopping for university and manage to settle in ok- I did! If you have any questions feel free to comment or email me.
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