Wednesday, 7 August 2013

glasgow guide: the truth about student halls.

Hello, lovelies!
In this next installment of my Glasgow Guide, we're getting down to the nitty-gritty of something big: student halls. 
For those of you who might be moving to the city soon for school, or even to another UK city, I'm here to give you the truth about living in student halls. It could get messy.

 Moving to Scotland without ever having been here was a bit daunting, to say the least. I didn't know anyone and I didn't know the city. I didn't think it'd be a good idea to try and find a place on my own.
 So I signed up for postgraduate student halls. 

my first day in my old flat!

There were some good things about living in halls. And there were some not-so-good things. 
Today, you'll get to hear it all.

The Good

1. You will live with people from other countries. I had two Chinese flatmates, a German flatmate, and a fellow American. I got to spend some time learning about other cultures, particularly their foods, that I never would have gotten to experience otherwise. I ate a chicken heart. In my own kitchen. Will I eat another one? Not ever. But it was part of the adventure of living in a new country. I also got to teach my flatmates new things. One of my Chinese flatmates had never baked cookies before because she didn't have an oven back home. There were definitely some fun trades made.

2. It's a great way to make friends. For those of you who remember your first year of college, you'll get this. When you're moving somewhere new, it's nice to have other newbies by your side. You can be confused together. And the friends I made in halls have been my support system and fellow shenanigan-makers. 

3. The flat was actually pretty nice. I had my own room and bathroom, with a sizeable desk. 
 It was also in a quiet area of town, and it definitely helped knowing that any problems could be solved with a trip to the office or a phone call to the Warden. The rooms were bigger than I was expecting. 

4. I paid a flat fee every month. That meant that I didn't have to scrimp on heat or hot water in the winter. I didn't have to manage bills for internet or TV or electricity. It was all taken care of, and that was such a relief when I was fresh off the plane. 

our kitchen during a pre-Christmas decorating fiesta.

The Bad.

1. You will live with people from other countries. Other cultures have different ways of doing things. Our big problem (and it seemed to a problem for a lot of American students in halls) was that there were wide gaps in terms of cleanliness. I come from a house where the kitchen is always scrubbed down after dinner and left clean for the next day. One of our flatmates apparently came from a house where garbage next to sort of near the trash can was as good as in it. A bowl with cooked beef in it sat on my counter for five days and got steadily eaten, even with hardened gravy on top. I will say that our kitchen problems got much better after we made a cleaning rota and a detailed list of what had to be done. 

2. It was expensive. We paid £495 a month for our rooms and a shared kitchen, and utilities. In my new flat, I pay £300 for a double bed and room of my own, shared bathroom, living room, and kitchen. My utilities are not much more than that. Student halls charge a lot because they know that international students, like myself, have little idea of local housing costs and will pay for the ease of halls.

move out day.

3. There were so many rules and interruptions! One of the most annoying things about living in halls as a postgrad is that you are still treated like a 17 year-old. There were inspections every term, and they weren't just a quick glance-over. If you had pictures hung anywhere but on the cork-boards, you got in trouble. If you left a switch on, if you had any candles, if you hadn't washed your shower curtain get the picture. We got berated constantly for false fire alarms, but they put restrictors on the kitchen doors so we couldn't open them when the room got too hazy. I once had a group of men knock on my door at 8:30 AM to clean my windows. Things I do not like: being in my pajamas in front of strange men, being awoken before my alarm. 

4. None of our kitchen furniture was usable. Our chairs were too high for us to sit at the bar without being bent in half, and our other chairs were too tall for the coffee table. I spent the entire time hunched. 

5. The drunk Irish girls on the floor below me. They liked to sing when they came home from the club. 'Nuff said. 

handing back my key

It was a little sad to move out, I'll admit. That room was my first home in the UK, and it'd been a good one...for the most part. You know, minus the eggshells on the kitchen floor and the singing in the stairwell and the 7 AM fire alarm drills. ;)
There you have it, folks. That's the whole truth of living in student halls. I'm glad I did it, but I wish I could've moved out sooner. Having a double bed and space for visitors makes a lot of difference to my happiness. Feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email if you have any questions!



  1. hi ! Moving to glasgow next year as I am taken at the UoG for Business & Management. I am French and I have to say your blog is so helpful and quite heartwarming ! I am going to live at Firhill Court, have you heard of it ? I am an undergraduate so I guess the halls are different but I just thought I would ask you anyway in case you knew anything about this place !

  2. Hi! Thank you for the sweet compliments! :) I haven't heard of Firhill Court, sorry. Let me know if there's anything else I can help you with!

  3. I am getter my MSc at the Univeristy of Glasgow this fall and your blog has been wonderful and reassuring to find!

    I will be moving into Kelvinhaugh Gate in a few weeks.. hopefully it works out!


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All materials on this blog belong to me, unless stated otherwise. I try to give credit where it is due, but the internet is a vast wasteland of images separated from their creators. If you own something I post that is not attributed to you, please contact me and I will fix it stat. STAT. Like a doctor running down the hallways of the hospital to restart someone's heart. Exactly like that.