What it’s like being 23 in halls

I don’t get ‘Netflix and chill’

23 freshers halls mature nightlife old student unay uni

“Are you sure you want to live with a bunch of 18 year olds? At your age?”

This is what everyone back home said after I had made the decision to live in halls. Sure, there are loads of mature student accommodation in Leeds, but the vision I had of them was more towards a retirement home environment.

I assumed they’d be full of people not going out, and instead dedicating their social lives to a second chance at education because kids got in the way, or any other excuse they had to justify the fact they were just bored of their way of living.

The thought of living with people who were potentially in their thirties and forties terrified me. I couldn’t guarantee there would be plenty of 22 and 23-year-olds to spend time with, so it was a risk I just wasn’t willing to take.

So I decided, at the age of 23, to live my first year with a bunch of 18-year-old freshers who had just been given a shit-tonne of money from the government, their own living space in a new city and the freedom to legally get as white girl wasted as they desire.

group photo one

Our first group photo, the same day I arrived in Leeds

A group chat was created for our halls a long time before any of us arrived, and we all spoke about how excited we were to start freshers’ week – so I knew people before I got there and it was already like a little clique if you will.

I am the oldest (obv) but I’ve never looked my age, acted it or really felt like it so, unless I tell people, its like I’m 18 all over again. But deep down I know, and sometimes I think “You’re a bit old to be dressing like a bumblebee to Tiger Tiger, aren’t you?”

But the question is never asked: am I too old? Am I too old to pre-drink Morrisons £7 rum to a soundtrack of Lethal Bizzle? Too old to shout down the hallway with the squad so the entire floor knows we’re leaving to go out or coming back with our Maccies? Am I too old to use the word “squad”? I just don’t know.


Some things have been difficult, though. I don’t like a messy living environment. I’ve lived away from home before, so I know how to keep it tidy – when it doesn’t stay tidy or at least kept on top of, I have to start acting like a mother: and no-one at uni wants that.

Half of the time I’m trying to think of a way to say “Get your fucking pasta out of the sink” in the nicest way possible, and also trying to explain to teenagers that reusing the wok oil over and over again is not a genius way of “Keeping the flavour”.


‘squad on point’

I’ve been really fortunate with my flatmates – we’re all different but get on so well. However, with some things, we’re not on the same wavelength. When wanting a bit of advice, I have to remember I have five years on them. They probably don’t understand when I complain about tax, or when my knitting goes askew.

The age thing really hit me, when it was made clear (in the most awkward possible circumstance) that my age bothered someone. It was a “problem” for them and it was “weird” that I was hanging around with 18-year-olds. Since then, It’s played on my mind.

It never did before, but now I think twice about what I say, how I react to things on nights out, about whether I should actually go to that event or call it a night in case I make a fool of myself.


I’ve been 18, I’ve done the one-night-stands, I’ve got so wasted I can’t see or remember anything the night before, but these guys haven’t. It’s new to them while I’m kind of over it.

I have zero regrets leaving uni so late, because I’ve come here with more life experience, and a clearer path about what I want to do. I wouldn’t change my uni mates for the world.

Plus there are those special occasions when it’s them that have to tell me: “No Katt, going into the casino wasted as soon as our student loan comes in isn’t a good idea.”