I thought I would kick off the Uni Alphabet by talking about one of the most important parts of university life, or at least mine—having a roof over my head.

Why I chose university accommodation

I could have chosen to experience university life at Charles Sturt University (CSU) in my beloved home town of Wagga Wagga. It would have made more sense and it would have made my life easier, I could have continued to live with my parents, continued to maintain my high school friendships, continued to have worked at Woolies—my life overall could have continued as it was, just with the addition of completing a degree. Instead I chose to move 500 kilometres away.

I chose the University of Wollongong (UOW) because I made the discovery that not only do they teach creative writing, but creative writing is an entire major in the Creative Arts faculty.  CSU only offered writing as a minor in their Bachelor of Arts and I thought it made no sense to get into thousands of dollars of HECS debt for a minor or a degree I really didn’t want to do.

As well as following all of the other admissions requirements, I also had to find a place to live. Since this was my first time out of home, my parents and I decided it was best for me to live at student accommodation. In my last year of school, I went on Discovery Days with my fellow classmates and we stayed at Weerona for the night, so naturally that was my first choice. I also applied to live at Campus East and Keiraview. I ended up living in a flexi-catered unit at Campus East in my first year.

Living at Campus East (flexi-catered)

It was really daunting living with four strangers, in a city I never lived in, for the first time. Nevertheless my flatmates were welcoming, good to live with and we all got along. They weren’t messy people either and the maids cleaned the bathroom and bedrooms every two weeks, so the unit was always clean. Due to living so far away from my family and not having lived with strangers, I didn’t talk to my flatmates or the other Campus East residents until spring session.

Living in flexi-catered wasn’t what I expected, not being able to cook because there was no kitchenette in the block I lived in and relying on the dining hall for meals stood out the most. It wasn’t easy having to budget eating, especially when all of the choices weren’t what I wanted to eat. The plus side of having to eat in the dining hall was being able to socialise and make new friends. The friends I made at Campus East, who are still my friends today: Sean, Luci, Alice and Claire always made arrangements for us to eat dinner at the same time every night when possible.

Making friends is the biggest plus side of living at accommodation and the most important part as friends become second family. Campus East is UOW’s biggest accommodation with over 600 residents each year. Sean, Luci, Alice and Claire were the first friends I made as well as the first people I met when I moved in, but I made others: Luke, Andrew, Eryn, Carrie, David, Brett, Ben, Adam, George and many more. We would always either eat together or have movie nights in each other’s rooms. Some of the more senior students became Residential Advisors (RAs) to look after the students and enforce rules without being too strict.

Living at Campus East (self-catered)

I lived in a self-catered unit with four girls in my second year. I knew this would be a challenge as I had only lived with two women in my life: my mother and Mollie, one of my four flatmates from the previous year, the other three were boys. I was eager to live in self-catered as the units are bigger and cheaper, plus I wanted to cook for myself.

The only downside was having to clean up the unit myself, myself being the keyword as the girls didn’t help out with the cleaning. The maids would only clean the units at the start and end of the year and when a unit failed an inspection, which would take a lot.

The thing that stuck out to me about living in self-catered and my second year living at university accommodation was the fact that it wasn’t the same as first year. I think it was because in first year everything was new and exciting and in my second year—not as much and a few things had changed. Alice was also in self-catered, Sean and Claire moved into a house in Gwynneville and Luci stayed in flexi-catered. I missed having dinner with them all every night.

Living at Marketview

Due to my experiences of living with the four girls along with a few other things that happened, which I will talk about as I progress through the Alphabet, I applied to live at Marketview for my third year, which is when it opened. Marketview has fewer residents, an en suite bedroom and self-catered facilities, so I had the luxury of having my own space and the security of living with other people at the same time. I called my room the Bachelorette Pad as it had a queen bed, a mini-fridge and a television as well as the bathroom. The only downside is that there aren’t many common social areas for everyone to hang out at, so it’s not as social as Campus East. Although it’s great living in the CBD as it’s closer to the mall, which is a great place to explore and procrastinate at.

Why I love university accommodation

Living in university accommodation is the most expensive part and one of the most essential parts of the university experience. Yes it is scary, daunting and, of course expensive, but can also be the best part of university life as you learn to socialise and live with other people, most of which you wouldn’t meet under any other circumstances. The best part of living with these other people is that these fellow residents become second family and look out for you because most of them are in the same boat.

This column originally appeared on Tertangala and can be found here



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