The stress of A-Level results day still lingers round me like the hazy regrets of a drunken weekend. Adamant I hadn’t gotten into my first-choice university, UCAS loomed like a court hearing ready to give out my three-year sentence. I didn’t believe it when I read those words. I had a place at the University of Manchester.
(I still don’t know how I pulled that cat out of the bag – but I’m sure glad I did).
A weekend of celebrations followed, the kind my second-year self can no longer hack. Resulting in the hangover of the decade. Many butties and brews later, my clearer mind began scheming, plotting new anxieties to fill the stress-free zone results day had created. Was it true that students who lived at home didn’t make any real friendships? Was it really possible to have fun and not live in Fallowfield?
I am a home student. Born and raised in Salford. The choice to stay at home wasn’t necessarily an easy one. We are constantly told that university is the best years of our life and living in halls is made out to play a huge role in that. For the vast majority of students this is the case, for most people going to university and moving out are seen as one in the same. However, do not feel like you have to move out to enjoy university. Move out because you want to, not because you feel like you have to. No two peoples experience of university are the same.
One of the main reasons I chose to stay at home is that living in Salford, my commute to university is only half an hour on a bus. While this may seem a monstrous commute compared to those living in Victoria Park, it really isn’t that bad at all. If I wasn’t too lazy to pass my driving test or too cheap to pay for a train ticket this time could be halved. To me, it just didn’t seem worth the money to move out when I lived so close already. The money I saved from not moving out has allowed me to take advantage of some amazing opportunities university has to offer – travelling to South Africa on an Animal Behaviour field course in first year and I am set to be going Costa Rica this June studying Tropical Ecology and Conservation. Both are extraordinary experiences I definitely wouldn’t have been able to afford if I had moved out.
So, if you do choose to live at home, my advice is to actually do something you’ve always wanted to do with your student loan. Whether this is a small day out or the trip of a lifetime. Don’t just spend it all on food (as temping as that is).
Another reason I chose to stay at home is that my parents are very relaxed people, they don’t mind me coming home from nights out at ridiculous hours, they don’t mind me making coffees at 4AM in exam season. I think before you decide to live at home, you do need to think about the university life you want to live and how feasible this will be living at home.
Help, I’m Panicking!!
The biggest worry I had about moving out was friendships. To me, it seemed that people in halls had no choice but to become friends with their flatmates, even if they didn’t make friends with people on their course it wouldn’t matter. However, living at home, this safety blanket wasn’t there. People attend university for a plethora of different reasons, for some, making friendships isn’t really an integral part of what they want out of university. However, for me, it was important.
All worries I had about this quickly evaporated, my two closest friends at university I met in my first week. It’s because of them I broke my ankle last freshers and can now make a killer Wonton Soup that my mum thoroughly enjoys. If you are choosing to stay at home, don’t stress too much about making friends, every fresher, whether living in halls or home feels the same as you, everyone is nervous those first couple of weeks. Being nervous is just part of human nature. Even if you don’t click with anyone on your course initially, do not despair, joining a society is a great way to socialise!
The university also offers multiple events to students who live at home. If you haven’t started university yet there are multiple group chats for home students and the university even organises a free residential in halls prior to beginning your first semester, in which you can meet others who are staying at home. Then throughout your time at university you will be invited to many different lunches for living at home students.
Remember choices aren’t permanent, just because you choose to live at home in your first year, doesn’t mean you can’t move out in second year and vice versa. I am moving out with friends for my final year, despite living at home for the first two.
Another thing that many people worry about is that they are missing out by attending university in their home town. Many see university as a chance to live somewhere completely new and refreshing. I totally understand this and if this is how you feel, then go for it! However, if not, that’s okay too. I have to this day not grown bored of Manchester. It’s a city I have always called home and I’m so proud of the music, history and culture it houses.
My main take home message from this is that there’s no text book way to experience university. Live your life how you want to live it, if you want to stay at home, go for it! Too many times I initially allowed people to make me feel inadequate for choosing to live at home, as if I wasn’t living the high life being woken up with a brew and breakfast before every 9am.