Published On: Thu, Sep 13th, 2012

The Hard-Copy Guide to Surviving University Halls

There is absolutely no doubt that moving into University halls kicks all kinds of ass. The prospect of alcohol & energy-juice-fueled post-High school sexual shenanigans, away from the prying eyes of mummy and daddy, is the muse of most 17-year-old boys wet dreams for the three month run-up to moving-in day. A year in University halls is pretty akin to a tour of duty in Helmand Province, and leaves those who miss the experience as socially-ostracised troglodytes. This veritable shitstorm of pranks, STDs, bargain booze and overly familiar friends (whose first names you don’t know) makes for, pretty much, the most awesome year of your life; however, it also creates some serious pit-falls to be avoided. Fear not dear friends, what follows are some of the necessary pointers that will allow you to expertly navigate the pride-obliterating armageddon that will be one of the most incredible experiences of your existence.


For most people this experience is a huge build up of excitment followed by the sinking realisation of exactly what you’ll be living in for the next year. When you’ve spent most of your life tucked safely underneath mummy’s skirt, the reality that you’ll be living in a (recently cleaned) urine-soaked stench emporium comes as a bit of a blow. The important thing to understand here is that it is a rite of passage in life and, ultimately, will make you a strong person (or give you an STI). Your best chance of survival is putting your stuff away quickly, getting the nicer stuff behind lock and key and then meeting as many people as you can.


It is, quite simply, incredible how some people can manage to hide their craziness very well upon first contact. When you arrive at your new home most of your new flatmates will seem happy, well-adjusted academics, ready and willing to have fun and cram their nubile brains full of knowledge. In reality, it will probably be only a matter of hours before you end up coming to blows, or you catch one of them jerking it.  Just because you live with people doesn’t mean you have to be friends with them.  Sure, it makes life easier, however it becomes increasingly difficult to have a friendly conversation with someone about them doing something about the musty fap odour coming from their room, or their unabashedly loud coitus through your shared wall. However, the mutual trauma of halls also has a way of crystalising friendships, and creating relationships to last you a lot longer than a year.


Try to avoid cliche student posters like Trainspotting or anything with Bob Marley on it. Chances are that you will get wasted, get into bed in a room you think it’s yours because they have the exact some poster on the wall, which leads to the necessity of an awkward explanation in the morning when it’s not. Decoration through the use of empty bottles of alcohol you have ‘slain’ is also to be avoided as, despite starting to smell, will attract unwanted pests (no, not the overly eager guy from down the hall who’s flatmates want nothing to do with him).


Most, having practised in High school, are well versed in appropriating and consuming this social lubricant. However, now that the parents are out the picture this is the best opportunity to consume an ungodly amount of the stuff. Being underage at university does present a problem, but every uni residence has people more than willing to supply you with as much as you need, provided you’ve got the cash. If you haven’t woken up the next morning and regretted pretty much everything you did after 9pm the night before, because of alcohol, then you have wasted a valuable life experience. What is a good idea is to become familiar with drinking regulations as early on in the proceedings as possible. ‘International Drinking Rules’ mean that there are a set of customs (dictated by the loudest and most obnoxious guy) that you must adhere to, lest you be punished by further alcoholic penalities. Joining a sports team or club/society will help you acclimatise to these, quickly, and help you avoid getting so wasted that you become easy fodder for opportunistic rapists.


The ‘Fresher 15′ is the weight you pile on because of your disgusting eating habits now that the birth-givers have stopped supplying you with nutrition. While you can count of the occasional ‘care package’ to tide you over, you may want to think about foraging for food. Options for this are: the local take-away, which will only exacerbate your perpetual expansion; supermarket food, which is a viable option but requires you to be able to cook (or use a microwave) to survive or a meal card to the university canteen. The meal card saves you the veritable guantlet of cooking, but forces you to eat soggy, processed ‘meals’ that will likely leave you wishing you had listened when mum tried to teach you how to work the oven.


This will, most likely, be the first exposure of many new students to such substances. University presents a myriad of new and exciting options although, with some narcotics, more caution needs to be exercised than with others. Remember, university is the place to experiment, and being smart about this means that you can continue experimenting. Being surrounded by cool people you know and trust makes these experiences all the better and allows the situation to be much more controlled. Another thing to remember is that these halls have very sensitive smoke alarms, which means you can be singled out when everyone is forced to stand outside in the pissing rain while the fire brigade does a floor-by-floor check of the building.


There is something interestingly damaged about a person willing to subject themselves to a life living in a continued adolescent orgy but never quite being part of it again. It’s kind of like a soft-porn version of Peter Pan. These guys are there to “help you’ through your year of residence” according to their job description.  In reality, though, it should probably read more like: “Requires you to pray on naïve girls who don’t know how to refuse, make sure that no one brings their cool friends over, sniff out all illegal drugs activity and defuse all potential pranks, regardless of their level of awesomeness”. These guys need to be dealt with warily – you don’t want it to be your word against theirs when you are up for review to be kicked out of halls.


It is cute that you want to continue your two-week long relationship with the girl you met back home because she ‘definitely could be’ the one. Chances are, that it probably isn’t going to work out. Relationships are hard enough to deal with face-to-face, without adding: distance, hormones, and a smörgåsbord of scantily-clad, willing, new sexual partners. The important thing is that you DO NOT sleep with the first person you meet at halls. This mix of a new domestic situation and fleeting sexual interest is a headache you need to avoid, regardless of how hot they are. Keep in contact until after you move out and initiate it then because you do not want to deal with the situation of trying to awkwardly introduce your one night stand to your jilted, sex-buddy, roomate the next morning (probably because you can’t remember their name).


University is a vipers nest of disgusting and nasty things you can catch when you dip your respective genitalia into someone’s that you don’t know. These things are very real and many more people than you think have them.  They are really not cool. Luckily, your students’ association usually thrust on you as many condoms as you can jack-hammer your way through, so that allows you to continue with your experiments. What is important though is that if the worst does happen, you don’t freak the fuck out, you see someone who can deal with the problem and you do it fast. No one wants to hear your sob sorry of how you can’t go out tonight because you need to apply the cream to the inflamed area twice every hour.


Halls parties can become some of the best memories you remember (or don’t remember) in later life. Your home-town friends come from all over and see what a big shot you are at Uni, you play some kick-ass music, your guests bring the booze and you don’t have to worry if things get destroyed because it’s only a £50 deposit that, in your heart of hearts, you don’t expect to see again anyway. What you need to remember about these are that if the Halls assistants (or the Police, if you party that fucking hard) show up, they can check who lives there and you can get nailed for it pretty easily. And after the night (and inevitable hang-over) is done you need to live there, taking into account the holes in the wall, stolen traffic lights in the hall and the blow-up doll that you just can’t quite make out if that really is salad cream plastered all over it.


The movies have potentially ruined this aspect of Uni for most students. Not every prank needs to involve an eloborate system of wires and pullys; some are devastatingly beautiful in their simplicity. Covering your mates room in post-it notes, filling the shower head with beef stock, bricking up the door to a person’s room, all reasonably simple and hilariously memorable. Again, university is the place to experiment so let your imagination run wild. Be wary of revenge pranks, however. The best defence for these are: Pick you mark carefully; always lock your door and keep on top of your social media pages, cos the last thing you want is Auntie Karen calling your mum and asking her how you’re getting on in your new homosexual relationship with the Taiwanese lady-boy.


During this month-or-so of doom some of the most invaluable resources you can call on are your flatmates. Sure, if they are as dense as you then you’re fucked but a solid team effort can really pull up the collective GPA. The result of this oppressive period of time is, however, the loss of all semblance of order or personal hygiene that people had (or pretended to have). This leads to a flat full of stomach-expanding, spandex-wearing, spotty-faced, nervous wrecks.  Mere husks of people who are far from able to sit their entrance test to next year effectively because they’ve never been more terrified in their life. Pull together and maybe have a shower (not together…ok, maybe together) then go for a walk (not a typo), you will survive.

One final thing to remember is, that halls is like having non-invasive surgery. There is a good chance you will come out better on the other side, but there are a few cases where things go catastrophically wrong and can be dragged down the beaten track of sub-humanity. What needs to be accepted is that, while fun, halls are a temporary state. You will have fun, sometimes it will suck, but you’re only there for a short period of time and you may as well go out of your way to make it the most intense, genital-destroying, flip-flop-wearing, drug-induced, prank-filled 9 months of your life.