Student Living, Through the Lens of Leaving

As a third-year undergraduate student, I feel like I have been lucky with my student flat experiences. Coming to uni at 17 was a massive step for me; unaware of the fact that my first year in halls would introduce me to some hopefully lifelong friends, the prospect of living with complete strangers for 9 months made me incredibly nervous.

There was no reason to be. Living in Queen Margaret Residences, I met wonderful people who I hope to stay in touch with even when I leave uni. The extensive number of flatmate horror stories I have heard makes me feel very lucky to have had such a good experience. Moving into a completely new environment without knowing anyone can be daunting, and I don’t think I fully settled and felt at home until I returned to Glasgow after Christmas. On my move out day, I remember sitting with my flatmate on a bench in the middle of the halls. Under the rare and appreciated Glasgow sun, we nostalgically reminisced about our time spent together, feelings of melancholia about leaving behind our first taste of independence were mixed with excitement towards the prospect of moving into our new flat.

My second student home was a five-bedroom flat on Wilton Street. I was very fond of life in this flat, perhaps due to a combination of being very close with my four flatmates and feeling much freer than I did in halls. Despite the fact that we were slightly ripped off by paying almost £500 per month for a flat consisting of a mouldy bathroom, a windowless, cupboard-sized kitchen and doors so squeaky they sounded like a pack of dolphins, we still managed to have an amazing year. Even if the place was falling apart, I was sad to leave, mostly because of the memories we made outside of university. I did, however, move in with two of my flatmates from that flat again this year, so I took a part of Wilton Street with me.

My third year flat was only five minutes away from Wilton Street. My experience here was a bit different to the previous two years, maybe because our university workload increased and our time to socialise thinned out. The dynamics of the flat changed in part due to the emergence of romantic relationships, so we didn’t spend as much time together anymore. Despite this, I am grateful for the months spent here as it has been a
lovely flat, maybe meant more for professionals or families rather than four messy students. I am not particularly sad to be leaving as, perhaps because of all the changes that took place, I did not feel as at home here. I am looking forward to moving into my future flat with a new group of people; I think it will be a refreshing start to the academic year, and it hopefully will bring new experiences and friendships.

The places we live in as students heavily contribute to our general university experience, mainly because they are the places where we spend most of our time when off campus. The people we live with have an effect upon our student experience too and, in that respect, I think I was very lucky to have been placed with such lovely people in first year. My enthusiasm for student living has dropped over the years because my flatmates and I have all grown up a lot, and the novelty of the newfound freedom has worn off. Everyone changes massively when they come to university and throughout their time spent there; friendships, relationships and personality are all shaped in this process, and going through the motions helps you learn about what to avoid in prospective living experiences.

Overall, my expectations of student living were definitely proven to be wrong. I was nervous to move to Glasgow from Edinburgh, but these turned out to be some of the best few years of my life. It was a lot easier than I imagined, in terms of paying rent, bills and dealing with awkward flat situations. The stereotype of student flats being a nightmare full of parties and messy kitchens is in some ways true, but I think it depends on the attitude of yourself and your flatmates: if you are all willing to pull your weight and compromise, it won’t be that bad. The process of leaving one accommodation and moving onto the next one is daunting but, generally, as long as you are organised and flexible, living as a student can be great.

[Ciara Vernon – she/her – @w3stcxast]

[Photo credit: learoycov/]

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