My attitude before going into uni was probably just like everyone else’s: “I’m going to university for my degree, with a side of life.” What I quickly realised as soon as I moved into halls of residence was that reality is the complete opposite of this.
All of a sudden, I had to learn how to cook, how to budget, how to do laundry, how to de-clog a sink, how to book a doctor’s appointment, how to fix a toilet flush, and countless other things that had never even been on my radar before moving out (far too many plumbing-related for my liking).
This new lifestyle quickly overtook my plans for an academic comeback. I definitely struggled with balancing my responsibilities and my academics, but I also realised that having a life on campus and learning to be an adult was a lot more important than getting full marks on my assignments. The biggest positive takeaway for me has been letting go of academic achievement as my source of validation. Hopefully I can encourage you through my experience to do the same!
1. Living in halls
Moving into my flat at Queen Mary, I immediately knew I was lucky. I bonded with my flatmates instantly and have made some of my best friends through living in halls. A lot of people don’t have the same experience, which is definitely a difficult position to be in. But I think most people can agree that living in halls teaches you core life lessons almost instantly.
Living in halls teaches you core life lessons almost instantly.
I’ve really understood the importance of personal space balanced with hanging out with friends through living communally. I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone in a way that’s helped me get to know my preferences as an extravert, but also empathise with people who are introverted and need more social boundaries.
My confidence has skyrocketed since moving into halls. I’m so much more expressive with my wants and needs because of an increased need for communication with my flatmates. And having a space to invite people over to has helped with my confidence for making friends. My anxiety has really gone down because of living in halls and I know many others who would agree with me!
2. Becoming my own person
Campus life has really forced me to rely on myself. As a result, who I am as a person has had to grow accordingly, especially my self-sufficiency. I don’t have my parents around to wake me up for classes – I have to get myself places on time. I don’t have someone to make decisions for me – I have to accept that my actions, whether wise or stupid, have consequences, and they’re mine to deal with.
Separating from the safety of living at home to live on campus has consequently helped guide me toward who I want to become in the future. True independence comes with becoming your own person, seperate from the expectations of other people, and I have found that campus life has fostered a new identity for me in the most positive way.
Becoming an adult is most often achieved through trial and error, and university campus life is the best environment for that.
I’ve had so many new experiences that I wouldn’t be exposed to if I was living at home. And I’ve made mistakes that have also shaped who I am so I can become the best version of me. Becoming an adult is most often achieved through trial and error, and university campus life is the best environment for that.
3. Learning true responsibility
More often than I would like to admit, I’ve snoozed my alarm and skipped the lecture I promised myself I’d go to the night before. But I’ve learned what responsibility looks like on a truly human level. The are so many opportunities at uni to lack integrity, like ‘forgetting’ to pay someone back after they’ve bought you something, leaving a mess on the kitchen counter for someone else to clean up, even leaving the toilet seat up.
What makes a difference is learning to put your pride aside and take responsibility for the little things of living communally to set yourself up for integrity in the future. Campus life is such a great test for life beyond your academic years. And you get to make friends on a deeper level than ever before. The sheer amount of time you can spend with people when you live on campus is incredible.
I will confidently say that I have learned so much more from just living on campus than I have from all my uni lectures combined. For anyone who is um-ing and ah-ing over whether to live on campus or not, I will always recommend it as the best option if that is within your financial and familial capabilities. You will be so grateful for the experiences you’ve had on campus in the future!