Choosing an accommodation can be a difficult process, especially if you can’t visit the University to check out the rooms for yourself. You are left with the accommodation website, Flickr photos and YouTube videos, which are indeed a great help to make your choice – check out this video which gives you a detailed insight into what it is like to live in Holland Hall (catered).
I opted for a catered accommodation (Mardon Hall) because I didn’t want to worry about preparing my own meals and buying all the cookware in my first year, even though I absolutely love cooking and it can be a great way of socialising as well. I did miss it but living in a catered accommodation meant that I had more time for my societies and part-time work.
I was allocated a single room, which I appreciated, as I like having my privacy. I had friends in twin rooms who really got along we;ll however, I also heard stories about roommates who had different lifestyles once they arrived that one of them decided to move rooms. Luckily, if you’re not happy with your room, you can easily move to another room or residence by speaking to the Accommodation Office at one of their daily drop-in sessions.
One of the perks of catered halls is that your room as well as the common areas are cleaned regularly. The bathrooms in Mardon are shared – two showers and two toilets for 6 girls/boys. They were always clean and decent and I never had to wait for anyone to take a shower.
Mardoners eat in Holland Hall (just opposite to Mardon Hall). The wall-sized windows give you an amazing view while eating, which I really loved and you get to mix with students from Holland Hall, which allows you to make more friends. Dinners were probably the most sociable time of my day – I often spent more than an hour chatting with my friends over dinner. Take a look at the Virtual Tour for 360° images of the dining hall.
Living in catered halls means that you have to adapt to the meal times. Sometimes I couldn’t make it to dinner because I had society events – in this case, you can submit a replacement meal request to get a takeaway dinner. We also had a utilities room with a microwave, a kettle and a sink but I didn’t use it much, as I had a kettle in my room. In catered halls, you also have a fridge in your room which is so handy if you want to make a sandwich or salad for lunch.
The food in the dining hall is nice and varied. There are vegetarian and vegan options, a variety of cakes, fruits and drinks. For breakfast, you can get a full English breakfast, porridge or the daily special (e.g. pancakes, waffles, frittata). My favourite meal was the weekend brunch, I rarely missed it! I loved the sandwiches with the different fillings, the salads and the paninis. Take a look at the menus and mealtimes!
Of course, the option of catered halls won’t suit everyone, so be sure to explore your options before making up your mind!