Ah, the sweet aroma of microwave meals and passata sauce welcoming you home after a long day’s graft. House or halls, you can’t escape it. Seeping under the cracks of your door and into your room, into every sassy outfit you plan to wear, until eventually you must accept your fate as a walking spaghetti Bolognese. This is just one of the many encounters you must embrace as a student.
Despite this shared struggle, living in houses and living in halls are two entirely different experiences. As a second-year student myself, I have just discovered that the horror of 9ams are heightened by the 25-minute walk to campus. Sadly, one must now evaluate if the sweaty 3a.m pizza outweighs an extra half an hour in bed.
The Newcastle housing situation follows the unsaid rule of halls for first year, houses for second. The reasoning behind this is unclear – although most second and third years hold an air of superiority over Jesmond territory. Generally, student halls are located within a ten to fifteen-minute walk to campus, whereas houses in popular areas – Jesmond, Heaton and Sandyford - are closer to the half an hour route. Proximity wise, halls win out on this one.
But living in a house is not all bad news. For those clever enough to have considered proximity to the metro, a £1.70 ticket can land you at Haymarket station in a matter of seconds. This saved time even means you can shove some stale bread in the toaster for your journey ahead. What a luxury. Even better, your bank balance will thank you when the cost of your room plummets to the other end of the price spectrum. You can be sailing past the £100 mark for student halls, whereas houses are more budget friendly. Warning though – there’s the hassle of setting up gas, electric and water bills and ensuring you split the cost equally. You need to take this into account when looking for houses. Advice to freshers – take advantage of the included water and heating before your scrimping and saving leaves you questioning whether a shower a day is excessive. In second year fleecy jackets, cosy slippers and hot water bottles become a pertinent part of student life.
First year is all about finding your feet and finding your friends. The advantage of living in halls is the never-ending opportunity to meet new people. You can feel stuck between four walls, but if the people in your flat aren’t your cup of tea, head downstairs and introduce yourself to others in your block. On the other hand, living in houses means you can buddy up with your chums. For many, this means more time for tea and sympathy, or prosecco and party time (beer and banter for the guys).
Both halls and student houses make life an adventure, and one simply does not surpass the other. Whichever stage you’re at, make this slice of home one that your parents would be proud of.