Last year, I stayed at Helen Graham House (HGH) – central, so lots to do; five minutes away from NCH, so easy to roll out of bed in the mornings, pop back and forth in between lectures; full of students from LSE, King’s, UCL etc., so plenty of friendships to form outside of uni. Now I’m living in a studio in Camden, and have my own kitchenette, sharing the bathroom with the two other flats on my floor. Whilst I wouldn’t have stayed in student accommodation for second year, and love my new place, the experience of getting to know London alongside other first years was one I wouldn’t have missed out on.
In Helen Graham House, I found a great community. A few people from NCH, and students from all years in some of the unis mentioned above. Mingling definitely allowed me to get a detailed understanding of student life around London; I ended up going to some of the events at UCL, and other student bars and quirky corners of the city I never would have found out about by myself. I also learned new recipes from my new friends. Perhaps the cherry on top was the December weekend in Prague spontaneously booked eating dinner in the kitchen with a mate from the next room along.
But halls did have its drawbacks. Ignoring the strict guest rules at HGH specifically – no guests entering after 10pm, max. 2 guests at a time – in any place, not knowing who you might end up sharing a flat with can be risky. If you’re not one for group drama or cleaning up other people’s half cooked noodles, then maybe student accommodation is going to teach you some new found patience and life skills. I’d say the best thing about living alone is getting to order things the way I like them to be, leave things out where I need them to be, and go out when I want to and not have to worry about disturbing anybody when I get back. Being in Camden as well, I’m a ten-minute walk from the tube, not much further from the market – great shopping and great food – and it’s only a half an hour walk in NCH. I pay almost exactly the same price as I was last year, but this time it comes with the feeling that I’m an actual resident of London, rather than a visitor being accommodated for a year study.
Any worries about lack of company I previously had disappeared – it’s still easy to go and visit mates, or even have them over to show off your new place! So, whilst I would recommend student accommodation for the first year, I’m very glad I’ve gotten the experience of having my own place, and am looking forward to the rest of the year here.