With some people only a few weeks away from heading off to uni, this might be a topic of interest for some.
I have to say, in the days running up to leaving home and heading out into the big bad world, halls seemed a bit daunting. What would my flatmates be like? Would I actually get any sleep? How big is my room? Is the place going to be infested with cockroaches or something? Would we do our shopping as a group or as individuals? These questions lead to me having some mild panic attacks a few days before leaving for uni, but, I pulled myself together and did it.
One thing I would recommend is that UCAS have a social media website, a bit like facebook, for people who are heading off to uni. I met one of my flatmates on this site and began chatting to her, and ended up living with her not just for my first year, but my second year too. I also met lots of people off my course who I see everyday now, which is cool. I do remember, at the time when I was publishing my address for the coming year, they kept getting deleted by administrators of the site telling me it was a security risk. Still, I managed to find some people, but maybe they’ve cracked down on this kind of stuff over the last few years.
I can still remember moving in like it was yesterday.
When you apply for halls, you rate the accomodation places you want to live in in number order (from 1-6 I think it is). I was assigned to live in Belmont Flats (my second choice – my first choice was Heathfield which is almost exactly the same but 1 year newer than Belmont!). Anyway, Belmont is a big quadrant with flats around it, looking in on Belmont Tower which is an older building which serves as halls as well. Belmont flats are pretty new (3 years old when I moved in) and are literally a drunken stumble from the union. In fact, my sister stayed in Dundee halls at Belmont flats and from her flat, she could see into the union and so could pre-drink and then see when the queue was starting to build up at the door and head down before it got too big!
Move in day was Saturday the 13th of September. I remember this because it was my 18th birthday! The letters informing you of your accomodation tell you that you can collect your keys from like midday, but I turned up at something ridiculous like 9:30am and they gave me my keys no problem, which is just as well, as by 1pm, campus was choc-a-block with cars and people carrying boxes into the flats. So, come early, or prepare to walk long distances carrying heavy stuff!
So, turning up at halls, unsurprisingly, I was the first person to move in. Most halls at Dundee are a flat made up of 6 bedrooms and a living room / kitchen. The bedrooms was probably the nicest room I’ve seen from any halls I’ve seen (having been to open days at other unis and visiting friends at different uni’s while they were in halls). You get a single bed, a really good sized desk, bookshelf and computer chair. I later added a bedside table which I was given by a family friend as they wanted to throw it out, which was nice. I’m sure if you wanted one you could find a spare one at the dump or something when you get to dundee. You also get a really nice ensuite bathroom with a shower. The shower is an ok size, although, one time after a night out, the combination of claustrophobia and the heat from the shower was a bit much and caused something of a spectacular display in my toilet bowl. The good thing about halls is that you don’t pay for heating or electricity, so I’ve heard people saying they did “Shower Days” where they took a plastic stool from the kitchen and sat in their shower all day in it. I’ve also heard about people leaving their showers on and turning their room into a sauna!
The kitchen is huge. It’s actually a kitchen/living room combo. There’s a breakfast bar for eating at with plastic stools, electric hobs, oven/grill and lots of cupboard space. Every room gets a lockable cupboard for food to avoid theft. Also, between the 6 of us, we got 2 big fridge-freezers, which was enough room as you would probably need, although extra space for more beer probably wouldn’t go amiss!
Anyway, after investigating my room with my mum, dad and sister, we dumped all my stuff in my room and headed off to Asda for my first grocery shop. This was quite expensive, but I’ve found that the first shop back at uni is always the biggest and can be around £120. After buying all the essentials, shopping tends to cost me about £40-50 a week and I tend to eat really well on that. You could definitely do it on less than this with the “yellow label” buys at supermarkets now, but I tend to go a bit above that level normally.
So, it was back to halls. However, on my way back in, thinking that I wouldn’t really know anyone in Dundee I ran into somebody I met at a first aid training course and also knew from my childhood who was starting medicine (and is now doing the anatomy intercalated degree also). Small world! Back in the flat, I unpacked the shopping and then we headed off for a birthday lunch at a place called tonic. Tonic is a reason to go to Dundee in itself, I think! My friends and I always go there. They do over 50 different types of burgers ranging from beef and chicken to ostrich and haggis. The surf and turf is amazing as is the Mo-fo. Also, the nachos are really good! I could go a Tonic right now…
Once I was back at halls, a few of my flatmates had turned up. I introduced myself to them quickly as they were in the process of bringing in their shopping stuff and their belongings, so while they did that, I said goodbye to my mum and dad and then got back to unpacking my room.
I can’t remember how it happened, but it seemed to be common knowledge that we were heading out that night to the union for our first ever night in Dundee. This was really exciting, as, embarrassingly enough, I hadn’t been on a night out in a club before, having only just turned 18. Anyway, the next 5 or 6 hours become pretty hazy, because as word got out that it was my birthday, I got a few drinks volunteered to me, which sent me well on my way to having a great 18th. Also, I had invited a few e-friends from the UCAS social site I spoke about earlier as I was worried I wouldn’t know anyone and was also a bit sad that none of my friends could come (as they were all moving into their own halls too) – so that was really nice too!
Looking back, my time in halls was amazing. I won’t share too much detail, but some memorable stories happen – some which I still talk about to friends today. One of my best friends lived in the bedroom next to me in halls. Another of my best friends now lived in the flat one up from me. And, another of my best friends lived in Belmont Tower just across from us. If it wasn’t for halls I might not have met any of them. At the time I had no idea they’d be my best friends in 3 years time, but it’s great how its turned out. One of our regular social events became happy hour(s) at the union where on a saturday night from 6pm til 8pm it was £1 a pint and so we all met there every week without exception with a deck of cards for some drinking games. I think that story should end there before I say too much!
Towards the end of my time in halls, it started to feel a bit claustrophobic. Locking yourself in your room to study for exams because you’ve been on one too many nights out tends to do that to people. But, looking back on it all now, it was an amazing experience, and to anyone who is wondering whether to go for halls, I would say DO IT! You’ll never get another chance to do it in your life, and the people I’ve spoken to who didn’t live in halls seem to regret it.