I survived an entire year in Oak House.. here’s how you can too

You won’t ever experience anything quite like Oak House


You’re a month into your Oak House residency with prison-esque windows lit by cheap strip lights and flashes of Strawberry Ice Elf Bars. Your student loan is already wearing a bit thin (those Factory tickets aren’t going to pay for themselves) and you might have already started to dip into your 0% interest student overdraft.

You’ve hung up *that* Afflecks ‘Pulp Fiction’ poster and completed your Fallow look with some overpriced Urban parachute pants. But maybe you haven’t quite fully settled into the seemingly parallel universe that is Oak House – perhaps you’re missing the home comforts of a hot meal (that Pesto pasta doesn’t quite hit the same on the third night in a row) or knowing where the cheapest pint is.

All Oak House residents have been there; whether they’re giving it the big ‘I am’ or not. This is how to survive your year in Oak House, and come out with the photos and memories (not bed bugs) to prove it.

Find common ground with your flatmates

Being put in a tiny flat with 7 strangers is a bit like Marmite – you’re either going to love it or hate it. Find a way to bond – whether it’s a messy night at 42’s or a flat dinner, people do want to make friends with you.

Play the Quordle, watch The Chase (Oak house isn’t fancy enough for a TV so settle for crowding round someones laptop), go on a pub crawl, the options are endless.

Oak House is full of people from all over the country and the North-South divide will not prevent you from becoming friends. Soon enough, you will start to take the piss out of each others accents (even in second year I still get teased for the way I say ‘pub’ and ‘bath’).

Decorate that kitchen – for your own sanity

On first impression, the green tinged breeze block walls aren’t exactly something you’d see on Grand Designs. In fact, they are just plain awful. So, doing a bit of group DIY will keep you from going insane when you aren’t in receipt of freshly painted Unsworth walls.

Stick up some ‘acquired’ posters, make a chunder chart and grab some LED strips. Cover the awful bright lights with a Sainsbury’s bag and it will slightly improve the ambience.

Keep your flat clean and respect your cleaner (you will thank me later)

You might have wanted Unsworth, and not having that en-suite or sofa is probably still hurting. However, Oak House does come with the luxury of having somebody to keep your communal areas clean (this will be missed in second year). They are the unsung saints of Fallowfield campus and they have probably seen the strangest and most disgusting sights ever. This doesn’t mean you should rely on your cleaner for everything though, so grab your washing up gloves and get that sink clear!

But, Oak House grows its’ own dirt, and after one party you will not get that residue off the floor; so do your washing up. That pan doesn’t need to sit there for 3 months, it’s not that daunting.

Accept sooner rather than later that no one can really cook 

They might say that their Dad owns a Michelin star restaurant, or that they’ve been working in a kitchen since they left school (working in the Morrison’s cafe does not give you a degree of knowledge about food) but no one can really cook. You will ultimately be witness to food preparation that makes your toes curl. They won’t die if they only eat noodles from a packet, but it isn’t anything to write home about.

My personal advice is to get acquainted with the fire safety in your flat, and don’t hang an Ann Summers ‘hot men’ calendar on your fire extinguisher. Because when the self-proclaimed best cook in Oak House inevitably sets the flat on fire by putting tin foil in the grill (How is your chicken Lucas?), you will find it quite hard to unhook and use the fire extinguisher before getting your eyebrows singed off.

256 is your best friend

I will not ever stand for any slander of 256. The bouncers might be slightly less than friendly and you may only listen to the ‘This Is D Block Europe’ playlist ripped straight off Spotify all night, but cheap drinks, central location and a 2 minute walk to halls, you can not go wrong.; the best place for a midweek mistake (#not an ad).

It doesn’t last forever- your second year house will (hopefully) be better

The idea of a double bed, less rodents (not none – this is Fallowfield after all) and a TV is the light at the end of the tunnel when you eventually get sick of hearing Glue by Bicep for the 14th time in a row on a Monday night; or when you realise that the dryers in circuit laundry don’t dry your clothes instead they actually just make them smell like someone else’s socks.

But for now, don’t wish your life away. Oak House is cheap and certainly cheerful, and arguably the best place to spend your first year at uni. And the best part is, you don’t have to do the ‘required’ reading….

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