Studying away from home


What is it like to stay in res? I’ve never lived away from home, so I don’t know what to expect? What if I get a bad roommate? Are there other options?


As someone who’d never stayed in boarding at school, going into res this year was a completely new experience. However, I’ve found that being in res has been one of the absolute highlights of the year for me, and looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Res life is undoubtedly an adjustment. While this definitely depends on the residence you find yourself in, it will almost always be louder, busier and more vibrant than you’re used to. Because residences consist predominantly of students who live far away from the university, they are always diverse, and you will meet very interesting people. The majority of the closest friendships I’ve formed this year have been through res and res-related activities, rather than my course.

Res is the perfect environment for people who like meeting new people, enjoy being in active and busy environments, and who can cope with a little bit of structure. However, even for people who aren’t fans of these things, res can definitely suit you. The proximity to campus, the improved access to information and student facilities, and the resources available, are all very useful, especially to first years (in particular having WiFi, a place to do laundry, and food prepared for you). While this depends a lot on the residence you are placed in, you will find that, aside from in orientation week, your commitments to the res are minimal, and you are essentially left to your own devices.

Overall, the res experience depends much more on the individual than it does on the residence. If you go in with the aim to meet new people and make new friends, you will definitely do so, if you prefer being given space and having time alone, there is normally nothing stopping this either. Res gives you the opportunity to have some really good times, but also the security and resources you’ll need to cope with the difficult transition into university life. Personally, I see res as a good stepping stone from life at home in the direction of full self-dependency.

This being said, however, res life is not for everyone. In more traditional residences, there is somewhat of a hierarchy, and there are rules and expectations to be adhered to, which some people struggle with. For people who enjoy complete independence, and prefer a quieter environment, more detached from the university, it is worth looking into private accommodation. The options vary from university to university, but there are generally a host of options available in campus suburbs.

Unfortunately a room-mate is something you have little control over, but in general, residences try to place you with someone compatible to your lifestyle. Some give the option to change if things are really not working out. It is worth remembering that your room-mate is likely as apprehensive as you are, and will normally do their best to show the same consideration and respect they’d expect in return. It can be comforting to remember the thousands of students who have gone through the same situation before you. The system is tried and tested, and for the most part works out.

My advice is to consider the type of person you are, and try to decide whether a res is the right environment for you. In general, I do think that staying in a residence in your first year is a great way to meet new people, and to transition more smoothly into a world of adult responsibilities. If you end up in a res which is really not working for you, it is never too late to change to private accommodation.

Really hope this helps, and best of luck!


Although moving away from home and sharing a space with a whole bunch of people can seem like a daunting prospect, I think that it is also a great opportunity to meet and get to know people from a range of backgrounds.

Sharing a room with a stranger poses it’s challenges as you both have to adapt to one another’s tendencies and co-operate on certain things such as cleaning as well as awareness of giving one another sufficient space and silence. While this is not always easy, it is certainly a way for you to grow as a person by learning more about handling conflict and what it means to co-exist with other people. If you’re lucky you may even find that you and your roommate get on very well and make a good friend.

In the case where you and your roommate are unable to resolve a conflict and living together is distressing, you are able to report to the res. If another room becomes available or two other people are looking to swap roommates, you will be notified and given the opportunity to move. In most cases though I find that people are generally decent and respectful and will make the effort to be considerate if not friendly with their roommates.

I was worried when I left home that I would miss my family and parents very often. However, I found that while I did miss them at times university life keeps you very occupied be it with academics or fun social activities, and so there were many lovely distractions to keep me from missing home too much.
Nevertheless, living away from home is not everyone’s cup of tea and it is important to consider the type of person you are and what you value before taking this step. For me, the prospect of experiencing something completely different to anything I had experienced before as well as greater independence outweighed the cautions of leaving family and having increased responsibilities.