Self-Catered Accommodation 101…

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…by Emma / from the UK / studying Politics and International Relations (MA) / 3rd year

In my first year, I stayed in a very small self-catered, university-managed accommodation on Clerk Street. In this blog, I’m going to tell you a bit about why I chose to go self-catered, and share some first-week top-tips that helped me adapt to living in self-catered halls.

WHY SELF-CATERED?

Choosing whether you want to stay in catered or self-catered is a decision that’s unique to everyone, but if any of my reasons resonate with you, you might want to consider going self-catered!

  • I’ve always been a fussy eater. It was important to me that I’d want to eat the meal that was in front of me. In self-catered halls, you have to prepare all of your own food, and so at least I knew that I’d eat whatever I’d made.
  • Set mealtimes weren’t going to work. In catered accommodation, meals are only served at certain times of the day. I knew right from the start that I wanted to do a lot of extra-curricular theatre, which doesn’t always work to sociable hours, and so there’d be a significant chance that I’d end up missing dinnertime because I was in rehearsals. If you’re also thinking about joining a society or sports club that’s going to have evening practice/meetings, it’s worth thinking about how many mealtimes you might miss!
  • Location. This one’s a lot more Edinburgh-specific, but all of the Uni’s catered halls are on one site, at Pollock Halls in Newington, near to Arthur’s Seat. It’s a really beautiful part of the city, near to Arthur’s Seat, but there are self-catered options that are a lot closer to central campus and the city centre.
  • Budget. Self-catered halls are cheaper because you’re not paying for meals. Check out the accommodation websitefor more information about average costs.

SOME TOP TIPS FOR SELF-CATERED ACCOMMODATION

Moving to a new city is stressful at the best of times, and in self-catered accommodation, you’re thrown into the deep end of ‘adulting’. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way that might be helpful to anyone who’s worried about getting through the first few weeks in self-catered halls.

  • Learn to cook something. You don’t need to arrive at Uni as a Michelin-star chef, but having one or two easy meals up your sleeve (preferably which involve a vegetable of some description) can help avoid panic-takeaway or living on microwave meals every night. Your bank balance will thank you too!
  • You don’t need to bring everything you’ve ever owned. I definitely made this mistake. It’s worth remembering that Edinburgh has all of the shops you’d expect a major city to have, including an IKEA and a Wilko for homeware. I remember the struggle of trying to force a clotheshorse into the car boot, when I absolutely could have bought one when I arrived. That being said…
  • Try and draw up a shopping list of absolute essentials for when you arrive. If you’re anything like me, moving day will leave you absolutely knackered, but you’ll still want to pop to the shops for milk, cereal, toilet roll and hand-soap. Drawing up that list of essentials before you arrive takes some of the pressure off of you to remember a whole shopping list when you’re still trying to remember a new address and room number. And finally…
  • Get to know your flatmates, but don’t worry if they’re not your forever-friends. I feel like there’s a lot of pressure around making your best friends for life in the first two weeks, and in truth that’s just not how it works. Be friendly with your flatmates, but remember ultimately they’re just a handful of the thousands of new people who you could meet at Uni. There are so many ways to meet people at University who you might get on with and want to live with in your second year and beyond, so don’t panic if you don’t meet your best friend in your first week (I didn’t meet mine for three months!). If you’ve got any questions about my experience in self-catered halls, feel free to drop me a message on UniBuddy. Otherwise, best of luck! You’ve got this!

This blog was originally published on the ‘Chat to our students’ site here: https://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/undergraduate/student-life/student-chat

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