When I decided to apply for a master’s programme in Europe I didn’t really know what I wanted to study, but I already knew one thing: I wanted to live in a hall of residence. I know this sounds silly. But I have no shame in admitting that a big part of choosing where I wanted to study had to do with choosing the kind of life I would have in university. And I think that is normal.
When I told people that I wanted to stay in a hall though, I heard the most terrifying testimonials. Although I could see the pictures online, I didn’t really know what it was going to be like. My goal with this post is telling you the real deal of life in halls, more specifically the real deal of life in LSE Rosebery Hall, the one I live in, more specifically my life in the 5th floor of Myddelton Wing in Rosebery Hall. This post reflects my opinion and experience, I don’t intent on making it a universal or journalistic opinion though.
Let me just start by saying that all my friends who chose to stay in private flats seem to be as happy as I am, so there is no wrong decision here either.
Rosebery is a mixed hall, there are LSE students from undergraduate and postgraduate degrees here, but we live in different buildings and the two wings are very different from each other – structure-wise. It is also a catered hall, meaning that we have dinner every day from Sunday to Friday and brunch on Saturday. It is about 25 minutes away from the school and eight minutes away from Angel station, which is a Northern Line station —> Northern Line = best line BTW.
What was important for me when choosing a hall
My main criteria for choosing a hall was that I wanted to be in a room with a) my own toilet, b) close to school, c) only for postgrads, I also wanted c) a social life and d) a reasonable price.
When making my selection on Hallpad (the accommodation choosing system) I ended up picking Rosebery as the first option. I couldn’t fulfill all those criteria in one single choice, so I privileged the region over everything else and ended up in a room without a toilet and in a mixed hall – which, as you can easily notice, doesn’t fit any of those things that I said were important ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
*** On Hallpad, Rosebery was listed as postgraduate only because we have our own wing, although the hall itself is mixed.
I am now going to try and cover all of the crucial criteria I mentioned above.
Mixed hall or postgraduate only hall?
I have met many amazing undergraduates and postgraduate students here at LSE.
Many of my postgraduate colleagues were also worried about living in a mixed hall. As undergraduates are generally younger, and usually stay in halls during their first year at uni, I can see why one would be worried. I remember myself and my friends when we entered university and today I wouldn’t have wanted to live with myself back then.
But if you end up staying in a mixed hall, don’t stress too much about it, being around people is always nice and there are postgraduates who are actually as young as the undergraduates, the range of age at LSE seems to be very big for both groups. There are many types of people living here, everyone is very nice, there isn’t one single post or undergraduate profile. Additionally, at Rosebery, they have a warden and subwardens exclusively for helping students and the maintenance team is very good at imposing limits on both post and undergraduates.
Having a toilet in my room
This was the thing that I was most worried about when coming to London.
To me, sharing a room wasn’t even a possibility, so I didn’t include it on the list, but I ended up having to choose not to have my own toilet and shower and this made me very apprehensive, I was afraid that it would be unclean, that I would have to face long lines for the shower or even that I would have to shower in one of those open shower rooms we see on the movies.
To my surprise, this is simply a non-existent issue, at least in the postgraduate wing at Rosebery. Both our toilet and our shower are cleaned every day and we are all more or less organised. None of us take long showers and on the rare occasion that either the toilet or the shower are being used we can just use the other one on our floor. There is also a bathroom at the end of the corridor, it has a bathtub and a toilet together and it is shared by two or three people only.
Both the shower, the toilet and the bathroom have locks on the door, evidently. Your privacy is 100% ensured.
I MUST STRESS THAT THINGS ARE VERY DIFFERENT IN THE UNDERGRADUATE WING, THEY HAVE A SHOWER ROOM THERE, NOT SEPARATE FACILITIES.
I ended up staying on a girls-only floor, we have only women here and one man – who is in a double en-suite room with his fiancee. I didn’t ask for this, it just happened, but it is not the rule.
I really like to cook. I am a little bit of a chef and, because Rosebery is a catered hall, the kitchens are not very well equipped. There is no oven here and we don’t even have chairs to have breakfast on, which means that I usually have my breakfast standing up. There are 13 people sharing the kitchen with me, so it is quite difficult to keep my things in there.
I really miss baking.
But I have been able to cook a little bit and make pancakes for my friends. We even host parties in our little kitchen and one of my neighbours made us a full Indian meal.
About the food in the canteen, I must say that it isn’t very different from the one that I have back home in Brazil. And I find it very reasonable.
The fish and chips are OUT OF THIS WORLD. And they have great desserts – There is dessert every day BTW. –> Chocolate and chocolate and chocoLATTE 🙂
The staff is also very nice!
The best part of being in a catered hall though is not the food, but the opportunity to meet different people from new places.
Yes. I have a little group with whom I have dinner and it is comfortable to come home and eat with people I know, but every once in a while I try to sit next to someone I haven’t talked to before and it is the best experience. It really makes living in a hall worth it. I miss cooking and having my kitchen, but being in the catered hall is really fun. It is also one less thing to worry about, which is great.
***The only problem, and this is something you might want to consider if you are choosing accommodation, is that you have to try to make your schedule fit around your dinner and this doesn’t always work. They do have a packed dinner system, but it is not always effective.
The parties and social life
I am not a party person. When I say that I wanted a social life I mean that I wanted to make friends.
When it concerns parties, I don’t see much problem in Rosebery, they have a very strict silence rule and everything seems to usually be quiet by 11PM, at least I don’t hear a thing. So don’t worry about the mess.
About friends, not everyone gets close to the people they share a flat with or who live in their floor, but I think that I can say that I have made good friends at my hall so far. We have a small little group, we take care of each other, we have long brunches or dinners when we can and we throw each other birthday parties.
Everyone here is away from home, we are all by ourselves, sometimes life gets lonely, so it is good to have someone to share the LSE craziness with.
Distance from LSE
I feel like Rosebery is at a perfect distance from LSE, I go to school on foot every day. It is a great walk.
The weather in London is quite strange, even when it says that it is raining, it is not like Sao Paulo’s rain meaning that to go to school you would probably have to swim there, it is a mild, constant, cold and irritating rain that usually doesn’t get in the way of me walking. This means that I managed to cut a little bit of my budget for transportation by staying here.
Outside the hall, there is a school and in the mornings they can be a little bit noisy, I would say that this is the biggest issue location wise. But there is nothing to be done, little kids will make noise everywhere in the world.
The price of living in halls
Living in London is expensive. This is a reality. I know of friends who are paying more than I am, and of friends that are paying less. There is no rule. But I think that for the location, I made a very good deal.
On the quality of accommodation
As I said at the beginning of this post, whenever I told people that I was staying in a hall they would immediately look at me with concerned faces. I would very much like to end this by saying that there is no reason for that.
My life at Rosebery is not at all luxurious but it is very fair.
The team who takes care of the hall is INCREDIBLE. Everyone is VERY nice. I once had a problem with my bed and they solved it almost immediately. All the facilities outside the bedrooms are cleaned daily and, apart from the creepy flowery curtains, all the objects in my room are of excellent quality. I actually really like my little room and have managed to turn it into a home.