Returning to halls in St. Andrews was the best decision I’ve ever made

Freshers need not apply

There comes a time in every university first year’s life where the question of accommodation for second year rears its ugly and complicated head. For many the choice boils down to two basic options: do you enter the property market in a desperate bid for freedom and "adulthood"? Or do you come back to the cosy nest that kept you safe as a baby fresh for another year?

Here, speaking from my experiences as a second year returner, are some of the main points to consider:

The freshers

Cast your mind back to last year, or maybe two years ago, when you too were one of these rosy-cheeked, bright, young things: eager to begin your university experience and make the most of your new-found freedom.

Now, come back to the present, a load of really good memories under your belt, you’ve got some solid pals, and the inescapable feeling that this herd of newbies are just bloody irritating. Yeah, I am sure you’ve taken full advantage of the myriad delights of Freshers' Week (including the free Domino's at the Freshers' Fayre) but when they’re partying it up literally next door on a Monday night while you try and get some well-deserved shut eye, it’s a struggle to be sympathetic, and calling the Wardens to fulfil you’re newly Grinch-like tendencies seems awfully tempting.

The rules

When you move out into private accommodation your landlord will probably have some basic boundaries about damage, smoking and pets. All fair enough. However, coming back into halls, you still have to abide by the rules that you strove to sneak around in first year – but it’s a lot harder when you know how the whole shebang works, and ignorance of the quiet-time cut off is no longer a viable excuse for stumbling in belting "We Will Rock You" at two in the morning.

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The community

In a small university like St Andrews, many of the friends you make in halls will be the friends you keep for your whole university experience. Your flatmates/roommates see you at your flyest before a night out, and at your zombie-like roughest the next morning while you shuffle about looking for tea and the will to live.

Hall organised events are generally good banter and what’s more, you don’t even have to leave the building to have a decent night out. You and your other returner friends bond over your increased workload and how old you feel. It’s even fair to say that being in halls in second or third or even fourth year gives you the opportunity to make friends with some freshers that otherwise you might not have got to know.

On the whole, I can say that returning to halls has been a positive experience. I’ve deepened friendships from first year, made new ones with newbies and feel genuinely part of a family, albeit a large and sometimes dysfunctional one.

True, having your own space and more privacy is a big draw in the direction of going private, but being in halls removes the worry of separate bills and disgruntled neighbours. So when it comes decision time for next year, whatever year that may be, don’t disregard your option to come back to what you know.