Hello, everyone! I am starting my MSC in Education in September 2007 and have a question about university accommodation.
As an international postgrad, I know that I am guaranteed housing (and thank heavens for that). However, other than that which I could glean from the sparse details on the accommodation website, I have no idea what I'm getting myself into. This is where you lovely folks come in (I hope).
I currently live in what I'd call an ideal student situation: I'm in a self-catered university residence in a small, 3-person flat. We each have our own bedrooms and share a full kitchen, lounge, and 1.5 washrooms (that is, a total of 2 toilets, 2 washbasins, and 1 shower). My flatmates are both men, which seems to make me far happier than when I was living with women, as much as I have adored my previous female flatmates (just in case it isn't clear from my name, I'm a woman).
Would I be able to find a similar set-up in Edinburgh's accommodation offerings? I know I could go hunting for a non-university flat, but I'm worried that that would severely limit my social opportunities.
To re-cap, this is what I'm looking for (in a perfect world, at least):
- Self-catered flat
- Shared with 1-3 other people, ideally men or at least mixed gender
- Full kitchen facilities shared with no more than 3 other people (I love cooking and, on account of numerous dietary issues, need to actually have space/accessibility to do so on a daily basis)
- En suite, if possible, but sharing is fine as long as there's a low ratio of people-to-toilets
Thank you so much in advance! I'm really exciting about going to Edinburgh, but it being so far away does make these planning issues a bit more difficult (I have a feeling that I'm not alone in this sentiment in this community). . .
(Cross-posted in various shapes and forms to the following communities: u_of_edinburgh, colddampgrad, edin_postgrads, and edin_students)
While I can't comment on the Scotland issues, can I share with you what happened to me this past year, and maybe you can learn from some of my mistakes. I was moving from Florida to Wales. I had never been to Cardiff (the city in which I live and go to school). My university (I'm doing a PhD) offered guaranteed housing for international students. I thought it was a fantastic idea, takes away the hassle right? Not so much. I had been living in the States, sharing a house with one other girl and a guy, so a similar situation to you. We each had our own bathrooms and shared the big kitchen and sitting room. I figured it couldn't be too difficult to go back to sharing with a couple of other people, especially as I would have my own bathroom, as well. Not so much.
First thing you need to realize is that everything is smaller over here. You will get used to it, but if you have to live in the housing for a year, you might just go crazy, which is what I found myself doing. I tried getting out of my contract, and the housing folks wouldn't let me. You either have to be sick and withdrawing from school to be let out of a residence agreement over here, or there has to be some other CRAZY situation that could put your life in danger. That's pretty much it. Unfortunately, one of my roommates, a girl from China, attempted suicide back in January. It came a little too close to home for me, as I had lost someone very close to me that same way, not a year earlier. Anyway, I was struggling and with a letter from my PhD director and a letter from a therapist, I was allowed out of the contract, but was still stuck with another three months rent. (It was worth it to me to get out of the place).
Before that happened though, and before I was let out of the contract, here were some of the issues I ran into. The flats at my university DO NOT have a living room, and no television, radio other forms of entertainment were provided. To have a television over here, you have to pay a license fee of about £180 a year, I think it is. So add that to your list, if you decide to go into residences. My university did not give floor plans, so I didn't realize how small the place was until I arrived. If you've ever been on a cruise ship, the small cabins on a cruise ship; that was the size of my room. While you can handle it on a cruise for a week or so, imagine spending all your time in that room, aside from classes. You start feeling confined and I began to dread coming home each night. As far as the kitchen goes, you get a stove and a microwave. Anything else you will need to purchase yourself, at least that was the case at my university. I can understand that, but I'll tell you, it's difficult when you first arrive to have to find a shop that sells the stuff you want, at a reasonable price. When you realize that you need a plate and a fork and a cup that first night after stepping off the plane, it can be a hassle. I would check on all those things with your university. ALSO, check on where the residences are located. Will you be surrounded by undergrads, 18 year olds, first time in college, students? If so, you might want to rethink school residences. I was in that situation, and let me tell you the drinking culture can be difficult at first to get used to. When they come home at 3 in the morning and puke outside your window, or they start to play football outside your window and the ball then hits your window, or they get a megaphone and start making weird sounds, just to wake people up; it can be difficult to get through a meeting with your supervisor the next morning!
I don't mean for this to be all negative, but this has been my experience in the seven months I've been here. I was let out of my contract, and am now living in a beautiful house with two other phd students in a non-undergrad area!
If I had to redo it, this is what I would advise.
I wrote a little too much for the first one... so here's the rest of it!
First, no matter how strapped I was for cash, and I was (and still am) on a tight budget, I would come over 10 days before I needed to and stay in a hotel. Have a map in hand and spend the first two days recouping from jet lag, but then go out house-hunting. I know it's unnerving to not have a place to live when you come over, but honestly, if you are living in a student city over here, you WILL find student housing, off the main campus. Check out this website as well: www.gumtree.com
You can click on the city in which you'll be moving and will be able to find places that people are renting, or are looking for people, and you can also place you're own add on there as well... it might help you out a bit. Also, put aside about £400 for initial startup costs, IN ADDITION to your monthly budget. It's amazing how you will need things that you don't even think of... like a potato peeler, or a steamer... things like that!
I hope this helps, and good luck :-)
You will ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT over here :-)