You don’t need to live in halls to have fun at uni

There is so much more to uni than living with a bunch of strangers alongside weirdly misty tap water

It took some of my older relatives a little time to come around to the idea that I was going to uni rather than getting a job and a mortgage. When they eventually did, I was told that I would be transformed by the illuminating ‘experience’ of uni at ‘digs’. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s not always appealing to live in what sounds like a construction site when your home is a viable option. It’s a common perception that university ‘experience’ and ‘halls’ are interchangeable terms, but take it from an ex-commuter: that isn’t always the case.

Practically, there are several benefits of living at home rather than university. The first most obvious practicality is finance. Firstly, it is likely you will not have to take out a giant maintenance loan to survive. Over three years plus interest this is bound to add up, meaning you only have to pay back the tuition fees. Additionally, travel is a lot cheaper. You might get balding men in corduroy suits hogging the tables on trains as if they have a purpose in life, but nothing is perfect.

There are also the social benefits of commuting: you can maintain your existing social circle whilst making another one at uni. You’ll be the opposite of a billy-no-mates. Not gonna lie, I commuted first year because I would miss my cat too much – she’s such a lad.

Queen B.

Queen B.

Is it harder to make friends if you’re commuting? Perhaps. However, the depth of the supposed friendships you make during those hazy first few weeks should be evaluated. You’re essentially chucked together with people you don’t know at halls. Sometimes you might end up liking them, but it’s a luck of the draw. You usually end up hanging out with flatmates at the beginning because they’re just kind of ‘there’. Once the alcohol and mutual anxieties wear off, these randoms you’re chucked with end up having the personality of a drainpipe. The most interesting thing they’ll do come mid year is wash their own plate once in a while.

Still, freshers might be rough if you don’t have readymade buddies to tag along with, so here’s some tried and tested tips to make friends as a commuter:

Societies are a pretty obvious answer here, as you’re joining people who you already know for a fact you have stuff in common with. It might be a bit awkward going to the evening meetings when you have travel commitments, but it’s definitely worth it.

Take the phrase ‘social networking’ seriously here. Freshers groups and course group chats are your bae here. It’s always awkward to break the ice, but pretending to be a lot cooler than you actually are online will make your eventual meetings with these people a lot easier to handle.

Finally, don’t be afraid to just get talking with people. Buses, lectures, whatever. Freshers is that magical time where everyone is equally as terrified and lonely, so it’s actually socially acceptable! Embrace it.

There’s obviously an equal amount of benefits and drawbacks to the commuting lifestyle. But where you live ultimately matters little: what really matters is how you, as an individual, treat your university experience. To quote Hannah Montana, life’s what you make it. Uni is no different. Do it right and you’ll find you have the best of both worlds.