So you’re heading off to university… first of all, a congratulations is in order!
No doubt you’ll be a mixed bag of nerves and anticipation, but hopefully you’ll be excited more than anything else. Regardless of where you’ve chosen to study, you’re probably in for some of the best years of your life.
To make your transition into independence as smooth as possible, we’ve compiled five tips for living out your first year in student halls.
1. Check whether your possessions are insured
Although some halls of residence do include contents insurance in the rent, many don’t, so it’s important to look into this before you move in. If your student halls does include contents insurance, it’s most likely very basic and may only cover fixed belongings like televisions and computers.
Because of this; laptops, mobile phones and tablets are unlikely to be covered by your halls’ standard contents insurance. This is why you should look to taking out your own insurance policy so your gadgets are protected. Before you do, it is worth asking your parent(s) to check if you are covered under the “possessions away from home” section of their home contents policy.
Some halls of residence won’t cover any of your belongings, but there are insurance providers who offer student contents policies, so it’s well worth checking. Should the worst happen and someone break it into your room, you want to make sure that you’re covered.
2. Don’t neglect to fill in your inventory when you first move in
When you first move into your flat, you’ll undoubtedly want to start getting to know your new flatmates and head out for a few drinks. This can be a great way to ease yourself into the university lifestyle, but when you have a spare ten minutes, it’s important to turn your attention to your inventory.
You should be given an inventory when you arrive at your student halls, and with it you’re requested to fill in any damage or marks in the communal areas and your bedroom. This prevents the blame for these damages falling to you once you move out, so don’t be afraid to list anything and everything you find. Even if it seems like a tiny, unimportant mark, write it down.
Taking photos of your flat at this stage is also a good idea, as you’ll be able to prove the condition it was in prior to you moving there. This way you should be able to get all of your deposit back should you run into any disagreements.
3. Check what you can and can’t do
Before you move into your halls you should receive a contract, and within this you’ll likely be told what you can and can’t do while you’re staying there. Things like sub-letting are almost always a no-go, but whether you can stick posters on the walls or have friends over to stay may depend on the halls of residence you’re living at.
It’s quite common to stick posters up on your walls at university to express your interests, but doing so could be breaching your contract, so it’s important to check this otherwise you risk losing some of your deposit. Blu-tack often stains walls, but you might be able to use white-tack as it leaves much less of a mark.
Most student halls should allow you to have friends to stay, but some may frown upon it and some could even forbid it outright. This is why it’s really important to check you know what exactly you’re allowed to do beforehand.
4. Be prepared for your food items to mysteriously deplete
Dependent on your flatmates, it’s quite common to expect little bits of your food to miraculously disappear overnight. You might open the fridge one morning to pour yourself a glass of refreshing, ice cold milk only to discover it seems a little less full than last time you checked… Or you could find yourself wondering where those toast crumbs in your butter came from, only to remember you haven’t eaten any toast!
Unfortunately, this is an all too common occurrence when you’re living in student halls, and it can be tough if you’re trying to be cash-conscious.
If you do suspect your food to be going missing, try suggesting that everyone takes turns buying the essentials like butter and milk. If you all buy the same brands anyway, this might help spread the cost and prevent pinching. Otherwise, you might want to mention that you can’t afford to be feeding the rest of the house too, and hopefully they should understand and stop the pilfering. Try to do this in person to your entire house, as leaving an angry note doesn’t usually go down very well and it’ll probably be ignored.
5. Be open to new experiences
The most important thing to remember when you’re settling into your new home is to have an open mind. If you’re shy about meeting new people, leave your bedroom door wedged open on moving in day as this will signal to your new flatmates that you’re about and are looking to be social.
Remember, you’re all in the same boat, so you won’t be the only one feeling nervous about your newfound independence. It’s okay to feel homesick, but don’t let it rule your time away from home. Get involved with any activities put on by your university and make a conscious effort to have fun with your new flatmates during fresher’s week. Even if an activity doesn’t sound like your kind of thing, give it a go! You might surprise yourself.
Joining societies and clubs can be a great way to meet new people who share similar interests as you, regardless of what they are. Whether you’re an avid tea drinker or an athletics champ, there will probably be a society for you.
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