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July 25, 2011 | by  | in Features |
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First-Year Flatting

There is a huge variety of ways to live your first year at uni. Most of us make the decision without really considering the options, or feeling that there aren’t many options. And all options, lets face it, afforded us all equal chances to screw up. I hit the streets and asked around for the best, and worst, ways to spend your first year at uni.

Halls of residence, it seems, are great as they give you a safety net so you can’t stray too far, and there are (albeit minor) consequences for your actions. The concept of ‘party free’ floors was laughed at, as well as the idea of studying with the people who lived with you. Maybe halls aren’t the real world just yet, but all in one year many people are leaving home, learning how to feed, clothe and budget for themselves, study relatively unassisted, and act like an adult, so halls overall seem like a good way to test the water. Complaints ranged from terrible food to not fully meshing with the other people, but all times were a hazy warm memory—so it doesn’t seem like anyone really regretted living there.

“Halfway through the year, when things started to get boring, Rory invented this awesome drinking game where we all sat in the dark, not talking, and drinking beer. Once you’d drunk all six beers, you got up and quietly left the room.”

Flatting, especially with people you don’t already know, seems to be a mixed bag. Staying on the same wavelength as one’s flatmates, especially if they aren’t also first year, can be hard during exam time. Also, living with a load of first years that come from relatively privileged backgrounds can be a recipe for disaster.

Also, taking responsibility for bills and bond can be hard—one person compared it to herding cats. In this sense, flatting in first-year and coming out alive seems to be a good achievement, which is likely to lend itself to a better second year.

“I moved into a flat with randoms—living in a flat itself was a positive experience (apart from being broke, but that was fun itself in a way). However, I also failed everything at uni and only went to one of my exams… so maybe I’d change the part where I went “FREEDOM! BOOZING!! FUCK STUDY!!!”… but then again, maybe I wouldn’t.”

The priorities we all set ourselves when pushed out into the big wide world are a bit laughable now. How about the 19-year-old who wanted to live alone, and slept under his jacket in a powerless house to do so? One poor fool choose to buy town shoes instead of furniture, and had not one, but two girls leave his bedroom laughing hysterically at the sleeping bag on the floor.

The first thing I heard about was all the causes my parents had never filled me in on. The worst was the meat industry, and how they treat their animals. So I became a vegetarian, trying to be a vegan, but because I had no idea which foods contained animal products, and which didn’t, I ended up eating kebabs and hot chips for months
Some people never left home at all, and all they needed to do was work out how to lie to StudyLink to ensure they received money to waste. The combination of more free time, clean clothes and hot dinners often meant more free time for depravity. Many who took this option were glad of the ability to actually focus on study, and ease into the adult world, while some felt pushed into the option by parents who may have even moved city to keep them in the family home!

The opposite seemed more common, however, when both StudyLink and parents left some students out in the cold.

“I’m not going to go into details here but suffice to say that taking abandoned, half-eaten burgers that you didn’t buy from BK and giving them to Blanket Man would be offering him more support than I saw from my father for a good long while. But StudyLink, in their ineffable wisdom, felt that I was unworthy of support. I had at this point lost 11 kg because I was eating only free ice cream twice a day.”

The balance between cheering for freedom and accepting an 18-year-old is still a bit immature to be on their own seemed like a hard line for parents to fathom, especially when basic life skills were never fully taught. Budgeting seemed to be something that was done until one reached their last $5, and the choice between alcohol and food on the weekend was a relatively common one.

“If I had tomato sauce and rice, I had a meal. Sometimes I’d even have cheese. If I was too hungry, I’d go to bed early.”

Overall, the best thing we all took from first-year was that no matter how bad it got, it was such an experience that changing it isn’t something we’d want to do. The combination of learning about so many things at once in such a socially different year means that everyone follows such a steep learning curve that the year is inevitably worth it.

“I once went to a party and ended up resting my head on size G boobs while making out with my best friend and watching a bearded man in a dress recite Dr Seuss. It caused a lot of repercussions but that night will forever be in my brain and I will never want it out of there.”

Inter-hostel rivalry, finding that your roommate has stolen all of your green tea, and learning what mould is are nothing compared to being bored and stable in a clean flat when no-one is home.

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  1. Jay says:

    Are we meant to be mind readers and instinctively know who you’re quoting when these random quotes appear out of nowhere…?

  2. Michi says:

    No, you’re meant to read the first paragraph.

  3. Jay says:

    And then…?

  4. Michi says:

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  5. myself says:

    I just got accepted into Helen Lowry, I think from what I’ve heard I’d rather flat. But sadly, either way I’m pretty broke next year

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