Leaving home for the first time to go to university can be a bit daunting. One of my most prominent fears was living in halls, something I had never done before. In this blog, I am going to share my experience of living in LSE accommodation, with all its advantages and disadvantages. This might also help people hesitating between this and living in a flat!
We are social animals…
I would say that the best aspect about living in halls is the exposure to a wide range of people. No matter if you are in a triple, double, or single room, in halls, you will stumble into people all the time, be it on your way to the shower, at the reception or in the common room. Hall committees also organize events regularly, such as ping pong tournaments and movie nights, which are a great way to meet people!
Furthermore, if your hall is catered, every day you will get the opportunity to make new friends over diner. For all these reasons, if you are new to London and do not know a lot of people, I would definitely recommend living in halls in your first year.
…and maybe a bit lazy too!
What’s more, halls provide a range of services in case you have issues with your room: for example, I lost my key / locked myself out many times and was certainly happy to have someone at reception providing me with a spare room card. It is for all these little things that I enjoy living in halls!
Also, the fact that most of them are catered is a big plus for me. This means no shopping, no cooking, and no dishwashing! The food provided is very filling, and I find it surprisingly good, better than I expected it to be. The meals on offer include a main dish, sides, and a desert. There are four options for the main: meat, fish, vegetarian and vegan, so there is really something for everyone! For deserts, there are fruit bowls, different types of cakes (if one does not arrive too late as they tend to disappear quickly), and yogurts. Also, if you stay until the end of diner time and there are leftovers, you are allowed to collect them and enjoy a free meal the day after!
To top it off, most of the undergraduate LSE halls are located within 10 to 35 minutes walking distance to campus, a great gain of time!
Adios flat hunting!
If you have never been flat hunting, you might not know the struggle of finding a flat. Especially in London where the flat market is overcrowded; it can get very difficult and time consuming to find nice, affordable housing not too far from university. Halls, by contrast, are an easy, painless way to find housing: it takes five minutes to book a room on Hallpad (the LSE accommodation booking system), pay a small deposit, and you are already sorted.
Let’s talk about money
Finally, a main advantage of halls remains their price. Typically, living in student accommodation for a year is cheaper than living in a flat, even if you are in a single room. This might not seem straightforward at first, because looking at the weekly rent can be misleading: often, flats appear to be in a similar price range as student accommodation, or even a bit cheaper. However, people tend to forget that renting a flat is usually for a year, including all holidays. Hence, people going home over the holidays might end up paying four to five additional months of rent, making living in a flat way more costly than living in a halls, where you have to leave your room during the holidays.
One of the main disadvantages about living in halls must be the background noise. Walls and doors in student halls are generally not exactly soundproof, making it sometimes a bit of a challenge to concentrate on one’s work. Falling asleep can also be a bit hard when people are talking in the kitchen or coming back from clubbing at 3am. Thankfully, in my experience, these sorts of things do not happen too often, but there are something one has to get used to at first. Therefore, I would suggest bringing ear plugs with you (big fan of BioEars here, £6 for 3 pairs at Boots!), or noise cancelling headphones, when moving into halls.
FOMO syndrome, anyone?
I have talked about this phenomenon with a few of my flatmates last year, and we came to the same conclusion that living in halls can sometimes feel a bit isolating. Maybe it is an effect of contrast given that we are most of the time surrounded by people, but when we find ourselves actually alone in our room, we tend to think that we are missing out on some social activities; that people from the hall are having a lot of fun somewhere without us. This is obviously not always the case. Learning how to feel happy with your own company takes time, and it is completely normal to spend time by yourself. But this fear of missing out is something that a few people experience and which I think is less present when living in flats, where you know where your flatmates are and what they are doing.
My verdict: halls are winners!
These were, in my opinion, the main advantages and disadvantages of living in halls. As you could tell, in my mind, the pros overcome the cons. I may have missed something, and obviously, everyone perceives their experiences differently, but I hope this could still give you a realistic idea of how it is to live in LSE student halls! It is honestly overall a great experience and I really advise you to try it out yourself in your first year. It is, after all, a once-in-a-lifetime experience!