All the struggles of living in catered halls
Domino’s for dinner, anyone?
I never planned to be living in catered halls in my first year at uni, but my parents did the maths and decided that it would be cheaper than self-catered. So I moved into catered halls.
A year on and I'm still not sure whether I agree with that decision.
Of course, the main benefit of catered halls is that you don’t have to cook for yourself and you don’t have to do any washing up. There aren’t any issues with your housemates leaving dirty dishes in the sink for long enough for them to grow mould. Catered halls at Nottingham are also all on campus, as opposed to self-catered halls which are all a little bit further away. You can, technically, just roll out of bed and into your lectures. Sounds ideal, right?
While most students are grateful for this initially the novelty soon wears off and they start to find things they really hate about living in catered halls. The biggest offender? The food.
Good luck, vegans
If you have any dietary restrictions or are a fussy eater then it’s hit and miss as to whether you’re going to want to eat anything. I struggled enough as a vegetarian in catered halls and I don’t understand how people in my halls who were vegan or gluten/lactose intolerant survived. For example, I have a friend who is gluten intolerant and a vegetarian and one day his dinner consisted mostly of mixed beans from a can. (However, I do appreciate that it’s really hard to make food that’s popular with 250 starving students.)
Want potatoes with that?
Potatoes were served pretty much every day in some form or other. Jacket, mash, boiled, roast, dauphinoise… By the end of the year students living in catered halls become potato connoisseurs. They even had a jacket potato themed night. Exciting.
Food with a theme somehow stops being fun
The theme nights were always the highlight of the week. It was always interesting to see what ideas the kitchen staff had come up with, although, not necessarily always a good kind of interesting. One of my friends swears that his chicken kebab that he had on an Arabian theme night wasn’t cooked. But, on the flip side, there was always ice cream for dessert.
Don't oversleep, or you'll end up hungry
Accidentally missing meals is the easiest thing in the world in catered halls. If you’ve made plans of an evening or if you accidentally sleep through breakfast (which everyone does at least once) you’ll have to get food elsewhere. And, although eating times are restricted, it doesn’t mean the fire alarm won’t go off because someone is trying to make toast in the pantry at 4am.
The good stuff
Living in catered halls isn’t all terrible. You can use your lunch cards to get food from anywhere on campus and, if you're feeling frivolous, you could splash out on a burger from Mooch instead of getting dinner in halls from time to time. Formals are a good excuse to dress up and get trashed on really cheap wine. And you generally end up making some very good friends with people in your halls, because you’re all bonding in the dinner queue over how much you dislike the food.