Choosing student accommodation

Choosing student accommodation
Deciding where to live is just as important as figuring out what to study. Whether it is the on campus high-rise residence hall, a university family housing or apartments outside the campus, selecting your accommodation for the next so many years away from home is an exciting and important part of one’s college life. In fact, one of the best ways to bond with fellow students and make new friends is by moving into the campus hostel. It is here that students can hone self-help and survival skills from simple money management to balancing fun and studies, learn to share and care for fellow students, among others.

When you step into a university campus, it is a whole new world. With students coming in from different countries, economic backgrounds and lifestyles, one learns to see things differently and treat everybody with new respect. However, this doesn’t come easily and all at once. It has to be cultivated. As a lot of research has gone into the kind of hostel and housing, these should be made available for students coming from diverse backgrounds. From affordable living options to the luxury of a suite, there is the entire gamut of living spaces to suit your need and more importantly, your budget. So, before finalising your accommodation, here are a few things that you will need to keep in mind.

Safety comes first

The university websites give complete details of how and when to apply for hostel or housing, how to find and pick what is best suited for you and offer advice and guidance on legal documents to be read, understood and signed. Professional staff are always ready to assist you with contracts and financial matters. As a first year student, you might prefer to orient yourself with hostel life on campus or pick home stay options before trying to strike out on your own in the second year.

Early bird gets the best nest

Typically, the search for accommodation should begin as soon as you accept your letter of admission from a university. You will find a moving-in schedule posted on the official website of the university you would be studying in. Again, this depends on the course, the country and the type of accommodation you have chosen. There are as many hostel and housing options, but it is prudent to book ahead for the best deals.

Select judiciously

Hostel rooms are not just about the space and buying a meal plan. Universities put a lot of care and thought into its residential options. In fact, each residence runs its own social and event-based programmes like food festivals and movie nights to bring the student community together. Traditionally, on-campus residential halls, which vary again for the undergraduates and postgraduates, offer single or shared rooms or suites. Needless to say, the more private and exclusive your space, the more you pay. For students who are single parents or married, universities offer housing and even baby care on request. There are some universities which offer residential living with academic focus, bringing together students who share a common academic agenda and interest, who might enjoy bonding on a different level.

Smart food plans

Naturally, food is vital to your well-being. The meal plans offered under each type of housing is a revelation. You can pick the standard menu or upgrade your meal plans as you get better acquainted with which is what. Students with special dietary requirements have to make a request in writing, providing medical evidence and can plan their own menus with the help of experts. It is not just the food that matters, where you eat is also a matter of choice. From queuing up at food trucks to choosing to eat in specialty halls, you can eat according to what suits your mood and palate.

Fostering siblinghood

Each university takes time to understand what kind students it receives in order to plan living or learning communities. For example, in the US they have themes such as global environment to facilitate easy orientation and settling in. Some other colleges offer fraternity, sorority and cooperative living (FSCL), which focuses on scholarships, service oriented activity, leadership development while fostering brotherhood, sisterhood and sibling culture. If you are an international student and under 18, university rules require you to be placed in fully catered hall residence or home stay. Students with special needs can also avail of customised housing to suit their condition.

The Respect.Now.Always. campaign started in Australia to eliminate sexual harassment or assault in hostels on and off campus. The campaign has produced a video to explain what sexual consent is and where it begins and ends. It comes with advice on skills and behaviour to navigate around relationships — making sure others respect your private space and that you in turn recognise and respect other’s space. 

Friends for life

Individual experiences may differ in degree of intensity, but all agree that hostel life teaches you to respect friendship and lifelong bonds that created during the time that you spend in a hostel. The guidelines provided by each university in every country is comprehensive and cautions you on selection of places if it is off campus, on safety issues, legal and social protection that you can avail of and helpline information for emergency. It pays to be careful while enjoying being independent.

Hostel vs PG accommodation

In the Indian context, the two most popular options are on campus and off campus hostels or Paying Guest (PG) rooms which have mushroomed everywhere to facilitate easy commuting from hostel to college and back. “A campus life encourages students to be independent and teaches them to adapt to conditions and situations in the hostel,” feels a senior warden of a college in Bengaluru.

A quick survey of most of the institutions clearly pointed to separate hostels for boys and girls, with stringent round-the-clock security, doctor on call and the reassuring presence of a warden. Some of the ranked professional colleges and universities have huge sprawling hostel campus and the salubrious surroundings helps one to unwind and stroll around.

“A good mix of friends from different corners of the world have helped expand my cultural horizon,” said Pavitra, a postgraduate student. On the flip side, the curfew hour in most college hostels is 7.00 pm for PU students while graduates and postgraduates have to return by 8.30 pm. PG accommodation scores over campus hostels in the more exclusive facilities it has to offer. PG accommodations are a flourishing business and their proximity to colleges ensures a safe home environment for students.
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