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Embracing comfort, convenience, and community: My experience living in catered halls as an international student

18 December 2023

6 mins

Hi! My name is Cheryl, and I am an international student from Malaysia in my final year studying Psychology at Loughborough University. In this blog, I will be sharing my experience of living in a catered hall and sharing a bathroom (with 7 boys!) along with tips and tricks on how I navigated living with other people for the first time.

The accommodation scene at Loughborough is unique and unlike any other. There are 17 halls of accommodation, with catered and self-catered; en-suite and shared bathrooms; and on-campus and off-campus options. Each accommodation has a different price range to suit everyone’s budget and preferences.

David Collett hall

I lived in David Collett Hall which was a catered hall. I lived in their standard single bedroom and shared two showers, two toilets, and a kitchenette between the 8 of us.

Navigating shared bathrooms

I was nervous about having to share bathrooms before coming to university. What if someone needed to use the toilet at the same time as I did? To my surprise, everyone at university has very different schedules and I never really encountered a time where I needed to shower or use the toilet but had to wait. You may think everyone at university operates on the same routine as you, but everyone you will meet at university is so different, and you may be a morning person living with someone who is more of a night owl, therefore your interactions may not coincide as much.

Another thing I was worried about was – will the bathrooms be clean? Will my flatmates keep the toilet and showers clean? To my pleasant surprise again, was that the toilets and showers got cleaned weekly and was always clean. Our housekeeper was lovely, and I found it convenient not having to clean the bathrooms and buy toilet paper (compared to my friends who lived in en-suites).

Convenience of cosy, catered meals

DC was catered for breakfast and dinners on the weekdays and being catered was one aspect of hall life which I really grew to appreciate and looked forward to each day. Being in a catered hall meant that I was able to pop into the dining hall after a long day of lectures to a warm hearty meal. I enjoyed the element of surprise of not knowing what was going to be served each evening. Although sometimes if I got hungry during my lecture, I would look up the menu online to see what was going to be served that evening. The options in the dining hall are varied and there are always halal, vegetarian, and vegan options. My friends and I would look forward to seeing what the dessert options would be each night, and seeing which option each person would go for.

Meals in the dining hall. On the left is a full English breakfast and a bowl of cereal. In the middle is a plate os pasta and a bowl of chocolate putting. On the right is a plat of fish and chips and a slice of cake

I personally looked forward to the fish and chips on Fridays, or days where they would serve lasagne for the main, and eclairs for dessert. There is also a salad bar, and a coffee machine with the best hot chocolates. Portions were great and I never went to bed hungry. Being in a catered hall helped me structure my days according to the mealtimes, as on the weekends I unfortunately would sometimes forget to plan out my meals and be starving/cook at random times.

Friendships formed

Living in halls allowed me to meet a diverse range of people who I would not have met otherwise. Doing a female dominated course such as Psychology, it allowed me to meet people outside of my course and realise that boys do exist. I met some of my best friends through living in halls and eating in the dining hall. Being in the dining hall was a great way to socialise and meet people as we bonded over food and filled our hungry bellies.

Hall committee

I joined my hall committee to be more involved with my hall and the university. I became the Action (volunteering) representative where I would recruit volunteers for Action projects each week. Being on hall committee also gives you 10% off when you return to halls again the next year.

Being on the hall committee taught me teamwork and communication as I worked with the rest of the committee to organise fresher’s week and events for the hall from winter and summer balls to fresher’s week. Not to brag but DC also won Most Improved Hall and Action Hall of the Year during my time on committee;) 

Cheryl and friends holding a David Collett flag

So get involved with events within your hall such as IMS, volunteering with Action, and fundraising with RAG to make the most out of your hall experience. Your hall experience is what you make of it, so make the most out of it and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Everyone else is like you and looking to make friends too.

Life lessons learned

Living with other people for the first time is a learning curve. I learned to communicate with my flatmates regarding taking the bins out, keeping the fridge clean, and respecting each other’s space. Tip: I recommend getting to know your housemates and setting up a bin rota early in the year to avoid any miscommunication. On top of that, I learned to be independent, doing my laundry, buying my groceries, cooking for myself, and managing my time.

Being catered and having to share bathrooms was not my first choice, but I ended up loving it (and even stayed on for another year!). I loved living in halls and if you asked any of my friends now, they would vouch for how highly I speak of DC and how much I loved my room.

No matter what accommodation you end up in, I suggest you keep an open mind, and you will end up loving it too! Your experience in your hall is what you make of it, and if you go with an open mind and say yes to opportunities, you will end up meeting the best people. And if you don’t end up having a great time, there is always the Student Accommodation Centre (SAC), or the warden and sub-wardens you can speak to. The SAC are open from Mondays to Fridays, you can pop into their office, or alternatively call them on the phone or email them!

I wish you the best of luck and hope you enjoy your time in Loughborough.


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