Roly is currently in her first year at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Before moving to the US, she lived in London. Here, she tells us exactly what it’s like to live in university accommodation, and what new students can do to make the experience as much fun as possible...
What made you decide to live in halls?
In the US, it’s often compulsory to live in halls for the first year or two of uni. That’s the case at RISD. Even though it’s usually more expensive to do so than rent privately, partly because university accommodation often comes with a pricey food plan, you have to until you’re 20.
So you moved into halls in September – what’s it been like so far?
So far, I love it. In the US it’s pretty common to share a room with someone else, and that’s the case at RISD. Before moving to the US, I thought that having a roommate would be strange and difficult to handle, but now I wouldn’t change it as we really get on with each other.
There’s definitely a sense of community in halls, too – everyone seems to know each other – and that’s led to quite a comforting and supportive atmosphere.
What advice would you give to others thinking of moving in halls?
- Be prepared to share a bathroom – even if you won’t have a roommate, there’s a good chance that you’ll be sharing your bathroom, and other communal spaces such as the kitchen or living room, with others. This isn’t the end of the world – you just need to respect other people’s property, don’t borrow without asking, and maybe work out a schedule so you each have time to shower before uni
- If this is your first time living away from home, bring a few creature comforts. Some halls of residence can feel a little industrial or bare, but photos from home, plants or other decorations can really help to add some warmth and familiarity.
- Try to hang out with your roommates or flatmates outside of halls – it helps you to develop an actual friendship and get to know each other properly. My roommate and I try to do this at least once a week, and it makes a huge difference.
- Don’t be afraid to set up some common ground rules if, for example, you’re a light sleeper, or you think some people aren’t doing their bit when it comes to cleaning. It can help to do this from the start rather than let it build up to a big thing.Whether you’re a light sleeper or not, pack ear plugs and an eye mask, just in case!
As an international student, you'll need to take out health insurance. It's a good idea as it includes cover for therapy. When you're really far from home and haven't quite found a new nest of people to talk to, it can be good to set this up, even if you just go and sit quietly for 30 minutes or complain about your teachers! You can google 'therapists + your town', then look through different practitioners' specialties to find someone right for you, and it's free. Uni can be stressful, so it's good to have all your bases covered for support.