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Top tips for living off campus and still making the best of university

by Julia Di Mambro
21 March 2016, reposted 31 October 2016

“Omg I can’t wait for uni – I’m so ready to leave the place I grew up” said almost every student ever.

The idea of flying the nest and finally being able to live in a new city, with new people, making a new life, is an idea that seems entirely beneficial to an 18 year old, who has in many ways outgrown living at home, curfews and friend dramas. For most, the idea of living at home whilst at university doesn’t even cross their minds. Right? Well, with the prospect of taking out larger student loans to cover accommodation, living at home actually didn’t seem like an awful idea to me so that’s what I’ve done. I’ve lived at home throughout my three years and there have actually been loads of benefits.

I have been able to keep seeing friends who haven’t gone to university more, I’ve kept my part time job where I found so many of my best friends, and I’ve still been able to see my family whenever I wanted – these have all been upsides for me. For those of you living at home as a fresher who are panicked about not quite getting the coveted “uni experience”, here are some sure-fire tips to help you on your way. They will also hopefully remind you that just because you aren’t on campus 24 hours a day, it doesn’t mean you are any lesser part of the Roehampton community.

Julia-and-friend-Christmas-party

Celebrating Christmas with friends who lived on
campus

1. Don’t worry

Stressing about whether you’re going to make friends or not and frantically posting on all the Facebook groups available “Hey guys! Can’t wait to meet you all in September!” is not for everyone. Stressing about making friends is not what you should be worried about so try not to – remember everyone is going to be in the same boat. Instead focus on getting all your stuff together for the academic year ahead of you and enjoy the time you have left with your friends before they leave for their unis.

2. Attend fresher events

Now this is important – really important. I’m sure you will be bombarded with emails telling you to get to “The Biggest Fresher Event Yet!” and told to get tickets. If there’s a few events you can attend, do. Perhaps, if you’re apprehensive about going, take a friend from home with you – they’ll help you be more confident about doing these things. Also, if you know anyone going to your uni from your secondary school/college, contact them – they’re probably in the same boat as you.

3. Join the Facebook pages

People will start posting ‘icebreaker’ messages after results day and it won’t do any harm to post one yourself, introducing yourself. See what’s happening, whether there are any events you don’t know about and generally get a feel of the people you will probably be bumbling around campus with for three years. Speak to people doing your course, who are also living at home, or have a mutual interest/place with you. Which leads me nicely on to my next point…

4. Make friends with people on campus

The fact that you don’t live on campus just makes it that tiny bit more annoying getting to events, but not impossible. The chances are you are going to make friends with people who live on campus. I met some truly great people and they were kind enough to offer to do things like pre-drinks and staying at theirs after events that ended too late to get back home from. You can make some friends for life this way and I’ll always be grateful to the group of people who took me in during Freshers’ week all that time ago.

5. Ask advice

With so many people doing it these days, there will always be someone around you who’s lived at home through uni. Whether it’s a friend of a friend, a cousin’s boyfriend, or that girl at work who you’ve never really spoken to. It doesn’t hurt to ask what them how they found it and if they have any advice for you – most people will never hesitate to give you some friendly advice, they were once in your position. (Taking this opportunity to shoutout my friend Darci who I spent countless hours with on the phone/at her house debating whether it really would work for me, love you!)

Julia-classmates-Paul-Jacqueline

6. Go to programme briefing during Freshers’ week

Never, ever, use living off campus as an excuse to not go to actual academic things that could help you. As much as I now don’t really remember everything that was said, I have the fondest memory of meeting my closest friend at uni through this. She literally just sat next to me and we started talking and lo and behold she was also living at home, studying my course and seemed great. Three years later, we’re still the best of friends. And if you don’t meet anyone, at least you start to recognise the faces you will spend three years asking “Do you know about x?” to in lectures.

7. Always be proud of yourself

This is, undoubtedly, the most important (albeit cringe) point that I will make. For a reason I have yet to decipher, there’s a stigma attached to living at home during uni. Like you’re missing out on some serious life lesson just because you have a home with warm heating to go to so aren’t freezing constantly in your student house. This is the stupidest thing I have encountered when telling people I’ve lived at home through uni. You’ve made it to uni, you’re studying a course you wanted to study, and it will open up a whole new world of opportunity to you. Be proud of yourself for getting through your teenage years with a love for studying, and use it to propel yourself through the next three years.
Ultimately, just go and have an amazing time whether you live on campus or not, but remember, living on campus is definitely not all it’s cracked up to be (which you will discover when your mates are whinging about that one noisy/dirty/really annoying flatmate) and living off campus can be better than you imagine. Just enjoy whatever your experience is because one day you’ll find yourself in third year, putting off writing your dissertation, thinking of the amazing experiences and people you’ve met at uni, with the best group of people around you, wishing you could start all over again. I know I am!

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