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Halls to House: The Path to True Adulthood? Featured

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Your parents arrive, each driving a different car, just so there’s a hope in hell that all your belongings, necessary and otherwise, might make their way back to the nest in one huge effort. The corridors and stairs are a pain to navigate when weighed down with laptop bags full of whatever you managed to cram in to them. The experience is truly a workout for both your physicality and your patience with your parents but once it is complete and the room is empty, so are you. I’m not ashamed to admit that seeing the room in which I based the best year of my life stripped bare and restored to its original state hurt me more than I thought it could. My posters and photos had gone from the walls leaving only fragments of blu-tack on whitewashed walls. My bedding stripped off revealing the less than appealing mattress. My trademark clutter cleared from the floor making the room appear much larger than I thought it was.

So, freshers’ year – let’s face it, it is a year, not a week – is over and you have a great expanse of summer ahead of you. You go on holiday, make the most of the sun and generally don’t give the slightest heed to your University course and forget most of what you spent the last few months pretending to learn. Sometime in July or August, depending on your University, you receive a letter from your accommodation provider reminding you that you need to pay your first instalment and can collect your keys for your brand new student house. Oh yeah, that place. The fifth house you went to see on that cold December night. The one everyone agreed was “alright” so you took it.

You collect your keys and open the front door for the second time. The first was so long ago and in such a haze of similar dwellings you cannot pick them from one another. Weren’t the stairs on the other side? I could have sworn the kitchen was bigger than this? Is that a slug trail? The general state of the house worries you at first, the place smells of dust and neglect, but you move your stuff in and make your new bedroom look as much like your old halls room as you can. You try out the oven and make yourself some dinner, using your brand new plates and cutlery. You’ve forgotten oven mitts and so have to use a tea towel, you make a mental note you know you’ll forget.

Being alone in your house, you are not too sure whether you will like it or not, but once others have moved in, your mind will change immediately. By early September there were a few of us moved in across the three or four houses our old block in halls had split in to. Most nights were spent at one house or another drinking lazily and exploring the area. Living in a student house is a different experience to halls, no doubt, but by no means worse. You’ll miss the en suite bathroom and the balcony – if you had them – as well as the cleaners and general holiday, party feel. It is the second year when you really became an adult. It’s the first time you’re properly independent, living in a house with a friend or three. Parties and pre-drinking sessions remain pretty much the same, as do your studying and work habits. The main change is merely in the tempo of these things. You find yourself relaxing in to life rather than running around like the fresher you sometimes wish you still were.

The two or more years spent in student housing are the years in which you will truly become an adult, but the extent of the change is up to you. Maturity doesn’t have to mean tedium. I can look after myself in every way imaginable. And yet I still laugh at my own farts. 

Tom Hitchen

I am a Creative Writing and Philosophy graduate having attained Upper Second Class Honours from the University of Hull. I aspire to make a living as a writer and to enjoy myself while doing so.

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