Dorm Sweet Dorm: How to live on student accommodation for years

One of the biggest rites of passage within the rite of passage of going to uni is living on student accommodation. It has been part of my rite of passage as I am from Wagga Wagga and study a double degree at the University of Wollongong, which is a five hour drive away. I have just finished my fourth year and I have one more year to go.

I don’t have just one more year of study left to go, I have one more year of living on student accommodation to go before I rent a house or flat of some sort.  In my four years living at student accommodation I have learnt how to live with strangers, how to manage grocery shopping on a Centrelink budget and how to make a small bedroom my home. If you choose a uni far away from your home, you have to learn to adapt, if you make the same choice I did to study a lengthy degree.

I will provide you with vital tips on how make these lessons work for you.

How to live with strangers

In your first couple of years and depending on what accommodation you’re given, the chances are you will have to share a dorm room, unit, kitchen, bathroom and other facilities with strangers. Since you have to live with these strangers all year, you should make the effort to get to know them. Introduce yourself, tell them where you are from and what you are studying. Try to become friends with them, that being said, you’re not necessarily going to get along or like everyone, if you don’t like any of your flatmates/dorm mates or if they don’t like you, try not to take it personally. You can always ask the accommodation for another room or unit if it’s too bad to put up with and if you don’t want to move, take consolation in the fact that accommodation contracts only last the academic year and you will most likely not see them again in the next year.

How to manage grocery shopping on a Centrelink budget

Not every uni student is eligible for youth allowance, however I was fortunate enough to be. When I first started receiving youth allowance, I was receiving roughly $347.50 per fortnight, this increased to $377.50 and now $407.50. Youth allowance and other government benefits for students usually fluctuate to meet living standards. This isn’t much to live on, but finding jobs, keeping them and balancing uni and work isn’t easy, so this could be the only income you have. The best way is to either buy home brand or cheaper products and/or write down what you purchase and how much it costs (keep the receipts).

How to make a small bedroom your home

Whether you live in a unit or dorm room, either way you will end up with a small bedroom where you have to store all of your clothes, bathroom, laundry and kitchen items, plus your laptop, knick-knacks and anything else you buy during the year. The best thing to use when making room and storing items is to use storage containers. They are square, come in different sizes and last for ages. They also serve as better moving boxes than cardboard boxes since they last longer and can be used over and over.

There are many survival tips that you will learn as you go on your journey from O-Week to graduation in your home away from home. Remember to pass them on to the new students you will come across year after year.


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