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Accommodation

Life in halls as a postgrad

By bzellie 26 Oct 2020

I am a PhD student completing research in law and in my final write up year. In the course of the four (4) years as a PhD student, I have lived in various types of accommodations. This has ranged from a shared university accommodation, a studio, an ensuite room in a flat with 6 other people as well as a one-bedroom apartment. These are options available to many students depending on how much money they have to spare. I can tell you for a fact each has different experiences and advantages.

As a PhD student, my choice of accommodation has been very crucial for my health and wellbeing. This is because doing a PhD means struggling with stress, feelings of isolation and depression. Many even drop out early.  In fact, research suggests that in the United Kingdom, the failure rate can exceed 40%. And in the United States, only 57% of doctoral students complete their PhD within 10 years. Hence, having a suitable place to stay is important in helping me cope with the added stress of completing a PhD. In my experience, I find living in student accommodation to be a better option for me. Here are the pros and cons of living in halls that might be of help:

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Pros

Making friends from around the world. 

This is particularly attractive for me as an international student coming to Cardiff for the first time! My roommates have been like friends who are family and we have created a home away from home! We even host parties, cook & shop together & go out for dinner or bonding sessions once a month. This is something that I could not do while living alone in a studio or apartment.  

Benefit from Residence Life Events

The Residence Life Team organizes events and coffee lounges throughout the year. This occurs only in halls and not in private accommodation. I have benefitted from running and participating in some of the events which has helped me to make friends and improved my overall wellbeing from just interacting with others beyond books. Ironically, many friends who live in private accommodation have opted to join the events as many do not have social activities in the private halls. 

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Stay more in touch with what’s happening around

Staying in halls means you are more in tune with the latest trends or events around you. This is particularly so as most students in halls are more likely to engage in social activities than private accommodation which is much quieter. So, if you are a person who likes to keep abreast on things then this is a reason why you might want to consider staying in halls. Caution needs to be had as in most cases such information will come from undergraduate students as postgrads tend to be too busy with the thesis, supervision, exams etc. 

Not worrying about bills 

I lived in an apartment where I had to worry about electricity, gas, water and internet. It was really stressful and unpredictable. For example, during winter, electricity would double due to heating.

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Not worrying about maintenance issues 

This was a hustle for me while living in my own apartment. Sometimes the washing machine would breakdown and therefore I had to call my estate agent who would then follow-up with a company that deals with maintenance issues and should it be your fault then you might have to pay for the extra costs. Not forgetting having to wait for the maintenance team to arrive and wait for the work to be completed, which is a waste of time. Although I was lucky to have good agents, it was a hurdle chasing after maintenance issues.

Safety is better

 Security is higher in halls. While living in private accommodation I had my stuff stolen! I had assumed the place was safe with CCTV as it was in a relatively safe area but woe unto me about the shock. I have been privileged to work with university residences and can confirm how security is quick to act & respond. I even visited their offices to just see how secure they have installed CCTV in major spots & safety apps etc. Something few landlords will endeavour to do.

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Cons:

Noise

Although I stayed in a relatively quiet & leafy area in University Hall so I did not really experience this a lot.

Shared spaces

This might be a challenge for extreme introverts, but university is about making friends & once you get accustomed to it, it is easy.

Ultimately these have been my experiences. I think living in halls is a great way to get to make friends as a beginner whether an undergrad or postgrad especially if you are new to the place and hardly know anyone. 

The only disclaimer I would give is being flexible in your interpersonal relationships as people have different personalities experiences and behaviours, some good others not so good but that is the beauty of getting to know people & learning social skills.

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