If my memory serves, that was the order that I placed my accommodation preferences in when I applied through Warwick Accommodation before I started university. Close to campus. (Mostly) cost effective for the rudimentary budget I had laid out. And of course, my first choice was at the time by far my favourite.
I’d done my research on most of the accommodations online, placing Jack Martin at the top of my list. This was influenced too by friends who had also applied there first – we had grand plans. Up to and after results day we’d been talking about living in the same accommodation, close by. Everything seemed to be falling into place.
And then, accommodation contracts were sent out. I can’t remember which were first, but the Warwick Freshers Facebook group was slowly but surely filling with people finding those placed in the same accommodation.
Person X – 2 minutes ago
Hey! Just got my accommodation offer for Sherbourne – reply down below to join my group chat!
– See more (100 replies)
Not long after, Claycroft and Cryfield were sent out. The posts started up again, more and more people finding out where they’d be living. Just in case, I checked my email. Inbox (0 new). Well, that’s no big deal. They’re my last two choices, I thought, it could be worse.
I had planned to spend my day with my school friends before we left our hometown to go to university. We’d met up in a coffee shop, chatting excitedly about exactly what our plans were for the next year. Unfortunately, this is also when it felt like my university plans and little life I’d planned out for had suddenly been ripped apart. (Spoiler: it worked out okay!)
Looking back at it now, it feels like 2 major things happened simultaneously, when it was probably over the course of an hour. I’m sure it felt like a lifetime then.
Messages (1 new)
Friend (1 new)
Guess what! I just got my accommodation through – I got Jack Martin! Did you???
And I check again. Inbox (0 new). Still no news.
Hey Friend! I haven’t yet – but I’m sure I will soon! Congrats though – it’s exciting!
I refresh the email page.
Inbox (0 new)
I check the trash page.
Inbox (0 new)
I check the spam.
Inbox (0 new)
Meanwhile, the group notifications were flooding in. I started scrolling down the comments, seeing as more and more people replied that they got their offers for Jack Martin. Okay, I’m sure it’ll be fine – maybe they’re still sending out emails.
Locking my phone for a minute, I tried to spend time in the moment with my friends, discussing when we were moving out and where we would be staying- BZZ.
Inbox (1 new)
Accommodation offer 2016/2017 (UG)
Okay, this is good, I was thinking. I clicked the link and read through the offer.
Whitefields? Which one was that? Did I apply to Whitefields? I checked and then checked again, making sure it wasn’t a mistake. Okay, so I did apply for it, adding it as my third choice due to its location and price. An inconsequential decision at the time.
I’m almost certain I cried; I have to admit. It’d been an emotional few weeks and whether the tear was over the sudden uncertainty of the next year or pure relief from finally knowing I’m not sure.
So the retelling above may be slightly dramatized – as it was almost 3 years ago – but I can for sure tell you that whilst it seemed like the biggest problem in my life, and I was certain that I would not have the experience in first year that I had dreamed of, it was in reality something much smaller and much less important than I had considered. Here are a few of the emotions floating around my head that day:
Stress. Worry. Fear. Disappointment. Relief.
When I got home that day, I logged into Facebook. Time for my turn to post.
Meredith – 1 minute ago
Did anyone get Whitefields? 😊
And suddenly, university didn’t seem too lonely anymore. I did some research while adding and talking to person after person, creating a group chat that would provide a sense of confidence and friendship going into the start of term and beyond.
My second step after that was looking back at the accommodation. What were its positives? Maybe it wasn’t so bad! I wasn’t fussed about an en-suite (as I’ve always said, if I can share with my family, I can share with anyone!), especially when the bathrooms were cleaned so regularly. And 12 people to a kitchen was more than manageable – that number hadn’t changed through any of the accommodations that I’d applied to. And the price only made things better – with a cheaper accommodation, I could use that money for other things. Maybe this wasn’t the worst thing to happen in the world.
I didn’t get many photos of my room in first year, apart from these after I had packed up to leave! It had some great perks, including the window right by the desk!
And, three years on from that, everything turned out okay, in case you were interested. I continued packing and preparing, accepted that offer, and with much less dread that I imagined I moved in with everyone else. I knew in the back of my mind I could always try and move if I really really didn’t enjoy it.
I ended up staying there the whole year and loving it. I met people that I had chatted to online beforehand, and those that I hadn’t. I recognised faces that lived just down the road, and made some of the closest friends that have stuck together throughout our time at Warwick. Memories have stuck with me that make me look back at that stressful time and laugh with how well everything turned out, from Christmas dinner as a flat to all nighters watching elections in the SU. In the end, it really wasn’t where I lived that mattered the most, but the people I lived with and what I made of that year.
You might have seen this photo on my blogs before, but it’s once again a testament to it’s not where you live but who you live with!
Cliché, but true.
And with that, I wanted to offer a couple of words of advice and hopefully comfort as you all start thinking of your accommodation choices and finding out where you’ll be.
1. Don’t panic!
I know, I could have used this advice when I got my offer through. It’s difficult to change much when you first find out where you’ll be, so I recommend taking a few days to breathe and look a little more into where you’ve been allocated, whether it’s your first choice or your sixth. Each room comes with a standard set of furniture, so your packing and planning isn’t likely going to be affected.
2. Don’t pin your hopes on one specific accommodation
Whilst it is okay to think about where you could live and what you’d like in an accommodation, don’t think about only getting one choice and not about any others. Whilst Warwick Accommodation try and allocate the highest preference possible to everyone, sometimes it isn’t possible to give everyone their first choice – each place only has so many bedrooms in it. I made this mistake, and it’s something I changed about my approach when I applied for campus accommodation after my year abroad. It’s nice to be able to move into somewhere that you’re familiar with, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t find the same experiences in another place that you’re staying. It’s okay to be disappointed at first, but it’ll change the experiences you have if you keep that mindset all through first year.
3. Keep an open mind – you can still do so much!
No matter what happens, move into your accommodation with an open mind if you accept the offer. It’s daunting being somewhere new, but you won’t be the only person in that situation. You also probably aren’t the only person in your halls who didn’t get their first choice. And that is okay! It’s okay to want to change and move, but it’s always good to give it a chance first – you don’t know what might change your mind.
I hope with this it settles your mind a bit about not getting your first choice of accommodation this year – it’s a stressful time but it isn’t the be all and end all of your university experience. First year is really what you make of it, and so much of that is outside your room – from societies, to class, to everything else.
Talk to you soon – and good luck moving in!