Heads up, this is going to be quite a long and chatty post, so get a cuppa, sit back and enjoy the ride…
My stomach’s doing backflips as I start writing this.
I rarely ever see anyone talk about their negative experiences and feelings about moving into university. I’m sure no one really wants to read the negatives to be honest, but I just want to share my experiences for anyone else who felt the same as me.
I’m not trying to shine a negative light on student accommodation. For 99.99% of students, they have the time of their lives, but for that tiny percentage of people, i.e. me, things don’t really go to plan.
It was a Saturday, 12th September to be exact, and this day had been in the making for many, many months. I’d had countless people hyping me up, telling me I’m gonna love it, cheering me on (well not literally standing up and cheering, but you get what I mean).
Several trips had been made, especially to IKEA, to kit me out with all the essentials. From bedding to kitchen supplies, towels to fake plants, I was more than ready. To my surprise, I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. I had the odd moment where I questioned my life choices and the butterflies kicked in, but other than that I was quite calm.
If I’m honest, the whole situation didn’t really hit me until I got there, and then everything started to feel VERY real. The day went pretty smoothly. Packed the car up, drove to uni, collected the keys, unpacked the car, did a food shop, then unpacked the boxes…well some of them. Due to COVID, I was only allowed one other person to be with me when moving in, so unfortunately my dad had to stay at home while my mum came with me.
All my flatmates arrived after me, which was quite nice to be honest, because I basically had first pick of cupboard and fridge space. When they did arrive however, it wasn’t the welcome I was expecting. In my head, I was expecting it to be quite a welcome, the whole “hi, how are you, omg we’re gonna be living together” scenario, then we’d hug and it’d be a big thing. It wasn’t. When they came in, one didn’t even say hi, and the other just said a quick hi and went into their room. Granted we were all feeling a bit stressed and anxious and maybe it would just take a while to get used to each other…you’d think. For me, it was all a bit underwhelming and not the welcome I was expecting, which didn’t really lift my mood.
To cut a long story short, I was an absolute mess when my mum left, an absolute mess. A lot worse than what I thought I’d be. You’d expect that when my mum left I’d go back into my room, unpack, and make the room look nice. I didn’t. Something in my head told me not to unpack anymore, not even my clothes, so I just didn’t. For the whole of Saturday night I was just sat in the living room watching TV, my flatmates pretty much stayed in their rooms all night, so we never had an ‘ice-breaker’ to get to know each other. Overall, I just felt quite lonely that night.
The next few days were the catalyst that made me up sticks and leave.
On the Sunday (13th September) both my mum and dad came down so my dad could check out the place, and once again I had a mini meltdown when they left. This was also the day when me and my parents started talking about options of moving home, because they could probably sense things weren’t ok.
The Monday (14th September) was probably the worst of them all. I first woke up with a headache, which didn’t help, but I also woke up with a strong sense of anxiety of needing to get out and leave accommodation, which is quite hard to explain, but was the weirdest feeling ever. That day I had a mini welcome session in uni for an hour where they took us through the course, and we picked up our lanyards and (uni-branded) face-masks.
When I was walking back to the flat after the welcome session, my flatmate messaged me and told me some maintenance people were in my room (which I had no idea about). When I got back, I just caught them leaving my room, so didn’t really get an idea of why they were there. I’m not even joking about this, a few minutes later I was just sat in my room, and them maintenance guys just walked back in! For me personally, that’s just a complete breach of privacy, as they didn’t even email me or let me know in some way that anyone was going to be walking in and out of my room that day.
We soon gathered that they were doing something with the fire alarms, because they were apparently not working (even though they went off perfectly fine that morning as they do a test every Monday). After fiddling with them for a good ten minutes, the maintenance people left.
Now this is where it gets interesting.
About an hour or so later, two of us were sat in the living room when our other flatmate literally comes bursting through the door, panicked, saying she’d just received a call from student accommodation saying we have to move out of the flat because the fire alarms weren’t working. In that moment I just wanted to curl up into a ball and cry, but I thought, you know what, just get on with it. We then each individually had the same call telling us we had half an hour to collect the new keys, pack up a bag of essentials for the night, move into the new flat, then hand our other flat keys in. So many emotions were just speeding through my head, and I’d pretty much had enough by that point.
I’d already discussed with my parents about moving out and going back home, so that whole situation had confirmed my decision.
When we arrived at the new flat, we discovered that they had actually downgraded us. To put it into context, our original flat was a ‘premium economy’, where we had a little lounge with a TV, 2 toilets & 2 showers between 4 of us. However, we had now been put into ‘economy’, where we had no lounge or TV, and 1 toilet & 1 shower between 4 of us. Fair enough if there were no ‘premium economy’ flats left, but we were still paying the original rent, so it just felt a bit unfair that they had basically downgraded us.
Finally, the Tuesday (15th September) was the day I moved back home. Moving out to student accommodation just wasn’t right for me right now. I know a lot of you reading this will probably think that I should’ve given it longer (which is what quite a few people told me), but with me, I know when I know. Them moments when I had a gut feeling not to unpack anymore, and that weird bit of anxiety telling me to get out, I just knew now wasn’t the time. I just want to add, that even though the uni told us we only had to pack essentials for 1 night, my flatmates ended up being there for a further 3 nights, then were able to move back into to our original flat.
My uni have very kindly terminated my contract and given me a full refund (otherwise I would’ve still had to pay even though I wasn’t living there), and I can safely say I’m much happier at home.
During the current situation, I’m only in uni once a week, and I only live a 30 minute drive away, so it isn’t that much of a hassle. The rest of my lectures are online, and as I’m writing this, my tutor has just announced that all of our other lectures will now be held online.
So there we are, that was pretty much the 4 days told how it was. Yeah I didn’t have the best start, and I didn’t take the decision to move back home lightly, but sometimes you have to be selfish and realise what’s best for you, and I wouldn’t have known what was best unless I gave it a go, and now I know.
If you’ve stayed and read this far into the post, thank you. All the support means a lot, and if any of you out there are in a situation similar to me, or just want a chat, don’t hesitate to DM or email me, because now more than ever we really do need each other.
Until next time.