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Fresh Meat – Home or Away?

Living at home while you attend university is much cheaper, and your Mum might still do your laundry. But Kayla Simpson-George is still glad to have moved away

Coming to Bedfordshire University last September, I had to move into student accommodation , and leave my life in North London, my family, my friends. I had no idea if I was ready, but had to try.

Channel 4’s comedy series Fresh Meat had given me an insight about what it would be like – but would it be accurate!? I worried: would my room mates like me, would we have anything in common?

After all my friends back home had known me years – learnt to love me, not judge me. I wondered if I’d made the right choice in leaving the comfort of home?

Last year, more than 310,000 students opted to study at local universities while living at home, according to the government’s Higher Education Statistics Agency. That is 19% of all undergraduates in England and Wales

Yet I wanted the whole Uni experience, going out, meeting new people and having to do things for myself – which I couldn’t do, living under a roof with my parents. I envisioned university being a place where I would find myself, study what I wanted, and meet a lot of new people – after all, we constantly get told that ‘University will be the best time of our life’.

So even with the nerve racking thought that I’d be living away from home, and actually have do my own laundry, I had high hopes for the whole university experience.

The first day – and I’d forgotten the essentials, like spoons

 The day I arrived at Uni, I was given my key, and that was it: I was now living on campus. I had packed up my old London life and brought it to Luton – a few suitcases and boxes, mostly of clothes and shoes. My biggest worry was trying to fit them all into such a small closet space.

I had forgotten all essentials, like cutlery….the thought of needing a spoon had not once crossed my mind! That first weekend I made a lot of trips to Wilkinson’s. But within the first day,  I had made my room truly mine, with photographs of family, a few cuddly toys. I had all these things that made me ‘Me’ and so I felt at home.

The NUS says it costs about £100 a week just for university accommodation

Fresher’s Week – too many drinks and dancing like crazy!

I learnt people’s faces, even if we didn’t actually speak again, when we see each other around campus we smile – remembering the night we all too many drinks and danced like crazy.Fresher’s Week is the  best time to make friends because everyone feels the same way you do, wants to make friends and get to know the university lifestyle. It is the week of fun before the real work begins. By the end of a week full of fancy dress themed student nights and cheap drink promotions, everyone seemed to know everyone.

New skills – not just with study but in sorting out problems

The biggest change for me, from sixth form to University, is the work. There is a lot of independent study and reading. If you miss assignment deadlines no one chases you to do it, you just lose marks.  Staff expect you to go to them yourself , if you’re finding it hard.

It was a shock having all this responsibility for myself.

But the good thing about moving away from me is my independence. Any problems I have, money, or Uni deadlines, are my own to sort out. This has given me new skills for the future, when I will most likely not be living at home with my parents there to save me.

Also my family and friends are not actually that far away – my University is about an hour by car and about 20 minutes by train. I see them every few weeks, so I don’t get home sick, and if I do need help with anything they are still there. So even after a term, I was glad I decided to move away from home for university. I have made such good friends and am beginning to be more confident about being here.

When you’re at university it feels like it’s the only thing there is, but when I come back home, it’s like it’s a bubble. Such a small part, of such a big world. I forget when I’m at Uni that life goes on outside of the campus.


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Permanent link to this article: http://dandelionproject.org/pub/fresh-meat-home-or-away/

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