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 “You want to have a room somewhere you feel at home.”- Aisha argues YES. 

If you’re not doing a Business, Chinese or Computer Science degree and you’re living on Jubilee campus, it’s probably because you ended up there. Tell somebody from uni park that you’re in Newark hall -aka the largest capacity catered hall at the University of Nottingham- and they’ll inevitably reply “Really! What’s it like there?”

This is because halls do matter.

Yes, the territoriality and competition is forcefully planted by Week One chants about how crap the other halls full of new people you haven’t even met yet. But where you live matters for the simple fact that you’re away from home for the first time in your life and at a point where everything seems new and daunting. You want to have a room somewhere you feel at home.

You’re away from home for the first time in your life and at a point where everything seems new and daunting.

Newark Hall can’t beat Hugh Stewart on the outside and the whole rolling out of bed 20 minutes before a lecture thing cannot be done when you have to take a hopper bus for 15 minutes before you even reach university park – but I wouldn’t have lived anywhere else. A main factor contributing to the hall living experience is the size; the fact that Newark houses 400 rooms means that there’s less of a sense of being forced together, less like living in a little village where everybody knows everybody else’s business. It’s more like a boarding school with very lax rules. The curse of the clique couldn’t be escaped – as anyone who ever had dinner there will have noticed – but it was also a laid-back environment great for a university newcomer.

In short, the experience my hall offered suited me and made me feel at  home. The hall that we are put in matters since, for the deers in headlights that we all initially are when we get to university, one particular hall could represent a place of comfort that any fresher could do with.

Aisha Brown Colpani 

“I will always maintain that I had as much fun as I would have in any of the Halls.”- Ben argues NO.

“What halls were you in?” is a question we have all been asked on numerous social occasions. But it all gets a little awkward when I begin the story as to why I wasn’t.

“Nottingham was my second choice…” I say.
“…Uni over subscribed apparently…”
“…Yeah I lived in Dunkirk”.

The response is always the same -somewhere between pity and existential crisis- but I will always maintain that I had as much fun as I would have in any of the halls. The meet-and-greets, the socials and societies remained the same but under the guise of the RSA (Regional Students Association). And, probably like you, I have spent the rest of my time here living with people I met during those first few weeks.

The meet-and-greets, the socials and societies remained the same but under the guise of the RSA.

Halls are a halfway house to freedom; letting you get up to no good while making sure you have at least a vaguely decent meal. What makes them great is that they bring together people who are in the same situation. You support one another and create bonds in what can be a difficult time for many. But to think some people are missing out because of the hall they were put in -for reasons such as distance from campus or the hall’s reputation- is like telling the green M&Ms just don’t cut it.

Even though we have the stereotypes that Hu Stu are all toffs, and that Rutland insert things rectally, hall allocation (on campus at least) is entirely random. The fun that you have in Halls is not due to the facilities; it is the new world that has been opened up for you. Many people will say that the first year of university is the best of their lives, and that’s not down to décor.

If you are a fresher then embrace the Hall you are in, chant the chants and sing its name as loud as you can. This little microcosm of a society is yours for the next nine months. But when you’re in ocean in third year and someone asks which hall you were in, just say “Who cares?”

Ben McGeorge-Henderson

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Image: David Lally 

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