Starting Fresh: A Survival Guide to Living in Halls


Housemates are liable to think washing up is optional photo: flikr/ via rabbitdan

“How do you cook pasta?” “Would you like to try my orgasmatron?” These questions are examples of how not to make a good first impression during your first weeks at uni. Looking back on our first few weeks at Warwick, it is safe to say that it is nothing that we expected. Leaving the comfort and safety of our homes, to embark on a journey into the wilderness that is halls was definitely an overwhelming experience. Walking down the corridor, not knowing what is lurking behind each door was a scary prospect. Although some mysteries are still to be uncovered, after two terms we have come to acquire some key survival skills to living in the madness of university accommodation. You must have your wits about you, remain alert and most importantly, carry your key with you at all times because you don’t know who’s ready to ambush your room…
Arriving at the kitchen meeting as a disorientated and confused fresher, when a fellow comrade steps up to the role of kitchen rep, the prospect of an organised kitchen becomes a beacon of hope. Celebrations are in order as everyone commends this hero for taking such a responsibility upon themself, (mainly so you don’t have to worry about it). Things couldn’t be better during this honeymoon period, as a sense of comradery unites the kitchen. However, soon the shadows begin to emerge and this person who had once offered hope for an enjoyable year now inflicts doom and distress every other night before the dreaded cleaning day. You notice the once friendly face is now inhibited by dark gleaming eyes, and that once endearing chuckle turns to a blood-curdling cackle.
The power starts to go to their head as they seek minions out of your fellow friends to help enforce their order within the kitchen. The feeling of dread you experience at midnight when you here that loud, ominous knock that echoes around your bedroom cannot be described. You immediately panic, wondering which bit of cutlery you left on the bench, regretting that last minute decision to have a late night snack. There’s no escape, you voted for this dictatorship; you have to clean.
Each and every fresher enters into the danger zone that is the kitchen, armed with their trusty student cook book. Drop it, it will be of no help to you now. Chances are, you’re not going to find a jar of saffron pushed to the back of your cupboard, nor will you have a few tuna steaks lying around. You’ll just have to make do with tinned tuna, if you’re lucky. For those who have an embarrassing lack of culinary expertise, the best advice is to latch yourself onto somebody who at least knows how to turn on the cooker. Oh, and offer to occasionally grate the cheese once in a while.
However, at uni, ingredients aren’t confined just to the kitchen. When coming face to face with enemy kitchens it is your duty as a hall mate to defend your camp. That packet of satsumas, a week past their sell-by-date, and those potatoes on top of the fridge that have turned a mysterious shade of green, may be your only weapons. When war breaks out the corridor becomes a ferocious fighting zone, as potatoes hurl through the air, seeking out their targets behind enemy lines. Yet the most disturbing thing you can witness is seeing a fellow hallmate, you thought you knew, change in the heat of battle before your very eyes. In the words of Professor Dumbledore to the contestants of the Triwizard Tournament before entering the maze, “you might just lose yourself along the way”. This becomes a reality as you watch a seemingly innocent MORSE student become a savage beast in the conflict, as they have to be restrained from pelting an unarmed soldier with leftover potatoes.
Yet, it is this kitchen unity that will hold you together through thick and thin, and not much could be done to break it. Well, unless somebody naively suggests playing the ultimate friendship-breaking, anger-inducing, most infuriating ‘game’ that is Monopoly. We beg that you do not dare to play this game until your housing plans are sorted for second-year – friendships can be ruined. Fact.
It goes without saying that the main event in a Warwick student’s week is the mayhem that is Pop. The cheesy music brings out a whole new side to these warriors, and the dance moves on display are like those never seen before outside the campus bubble. When you return home for the Christmas holidays, you can’t possibly imagine how you ever danced like a normal person. The moves that were once greeted with applause and admiration at Pop become judged with looks of disdain in the outside world. As a general rule of social discourse, it can safely be said that the dancing seen in Pop must be reserved only for The Copper Rooms.
Another skill you will acquire on nights out at uni is to learn to observe the different breeds of the drunken student. Exhibit A: the emotional drunk. When you see the first teardrop fall you know that you should have confiscated that cheap bottle of rosé from their trembling hands. Your night now consists of consoling them, insisting that these problems will seem irrelevant in the morning. Exhibit B: the hyper dancing drunk – arguably the best kind of drunk there is. They can be easily be spotted dancing like there’s no tomorrow, in their own little bubble, feeling no shame. It is these students who should leave their accommodation wearing shin-pads, as it can be guaranteed that they will accidentally be performing the splits at some point in the night on the slippery death-trap that is the Kasbah dancefloor. Finally, exhibit C, a rather rare breed is the artistic drunk. Alcohol seems to bring the Picasso out in them, as you wake up in the morning to find all the furniture of your kitchen and lounge transformed into a masterpiece, of suspended chairs and tables. Yet, after the initial horror, as you admire the perfectly balanced chopping board in the centre, you grow to appreciate the workmanship of the sturdy structure.
Finally, we turn to what you actually came here for – the degree. We all admit how geeky we were at school, with impeccably copied out notes, pristine organised stationary and not only complete work, yet handed in early along with a little bit of extra reading on the side. However, at uni this organisation goes down the pan as you meet your most deadly nemesis – procrastination. Just as you sit down at your desk, ready to begin that essay you’ve been meaning to do, suddenly you realise your nails need painting. And of course your room should really be tidied (messy room is a messy mind and all that). Following this, you really deserve a cup of tea. When you finally motivate yourself to type the essay title, suddenly beating your high score on Flappy Bird becomes your ultimate ambition in life. Too much work for too long however, has unhealthy side effects, such as spontaneous yoga sessions and a new-found love for midnight jogging. 

In conclusion, the ultimate key to surviving halls is to accept the fact that your life will never be as random and spontaneous as this again. This eccentric mismatch of people you meet during freshers will become your family for the year, and you wonder how you’ve not known them your entire life. Truly embrace this craziness


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