When I first began my university experience all those years ago in 2011, I was one of those annoying people who cried endlessly for their parents and wanted nothing more than to go home. While the other girls I was living with, (and still do live with, thankfully), were making friends with each other, I felt isolated and for the brief time that it was, I felt like my first year at university was not going to be what I had expected. I even considered dropping out at one stage.
Now, however, I am about to start my third year at Swansea University and I am so happy to be back in my student house with permanent bottles of wine in the fridge in favour of actual food, permanent damp and occasional mice. Don't get me wrong, living at home with my parents with cupboards and a fridge full of free food is nice, but living away from home is so much more fun and rewarding. For me at least.
It's that time of year now when most students are packing (or repacking) up their lives into cardboard boxes with shiny new saucepans and crockery and are preparing to leave home in favour for attending university. But, for more than a quarter of students in the UK, moving out is a mere pipe dream.
The latest figures on this subject show that 27% of Fresher's in the UK are living at home this year. There are many reasons for remaining at home - a lack of finances, a great job that you just can't let go of, health issues, sorting out your accommodation too late in the day, just wanting to stay at home with your family - the list is endless. However, the biggest factor in persuading students to live at home is it ensures that your student debt is kept at an all time low. So, should you consider remaining in your parents chateau or should you move out into the bliss that is student living?
It's tempting to stay at home, I can't lie and obviously, it's cheaper to stay at home. Last year, the average weekly cost for University accommodation was £98.99, according to the NUS. This cost doesn't even begin to cover your expenditure on mundane things like food, books and notepads, or even the more fun things like alcohol, partying, alcohol, things to make your flat more homey, alcohol, and so on. Yes, it all adds up and it is very expensive.
Some people find it very difficult to adapt and fit in with their new environment. I certainly did. I begged to be taken home with my parents to the point that my mother nearly turned the car around to come and get me, (thankfully she didn't). I wasn't alone. Research shows that 50% to 70% of students suffer some degree of homesickness throughout their degree, be that within the first few hours, months or even your final year. In fact, homesickness is in the top 20 reasons for students dropping out. It's difficult to pack up and leave after a lifetime of living with mam and dad, there's no denying it.
Clearly, the benefits of living at home are endless. Reduced or, for the lucky few, zero rent or maybe shared bills, the aspect of having food and luxuries paid for you, retaining your surroundings and not having to have the hassle of moving your life from one place to the next. But hold on - let's consider the other side of the coin. Do you really want to spend your university life at home?
If you are really looking for a means of progression and gaining your own independence, moving out is the option for you. After all, university is all about starting a new chapter in your life and how best to start that chapter by setting up your very own chez moi? It's tough, yes, but consider our way of life in student accommodation. It was a rarity that anyone in my flat in my first year was out of bed before midday (and we NEVER got told off for being lazy) and we can eat what we like, when we like, (within your student budget, that is.) So, if I want to bake a cake and eat it for dinner, I most certainly can. The freedom and independence you will gain, as well as learning how to cook and clean and be an all round independent person, is endless. And invaluable.
When I lived in University halls all those years ago, 99% of my life was based there and thus, I made great friends with the people I lived with and still do to this day. I study History (we get about roughly 10 hours of contact time a week) and only said hello to people on my course in passing. I think I may have gone out with them just the once. Living with other students links you to them in some unexplainable way. You've watched them mess up potential meals by burning them. You've held their hair back for them whilst their being sick. You've stumbled home with them at 4am with chicken burgers and kebabs in hand. You're sharing your space and your experience with them and it makes for an unbreakable bond. Believe me. You will meet your closest friends in university through living with them.
So, if you have a local university within driving distance offering the degree that you've been dreaming of for years, and you don't want to cash in on the pricey life of student living and debts, then staying at home is probably the option for you. Just make sure that you can tolerate your parents for the years ahead, and vice versa. However, if your dream course is far enough away from home to warrant moving out, consider it. It's expensive and tough but, if you truly want to progress, moving out is your option.