As an international student, the most satisfying and rewarding part of your study abroad would be building life skills. Studying is definitely not just the most enormous task, but YOU WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOURSELF. Starting from the time you wake up to the entire day, you are responsible for your actions.
When I was back home in India, I just move my ass for any chores. But every day, I travelled for different classes such as dancing, music and yoga, but I just didn't want to do other tasks. I was good at multi-tasking, but I had no clue about cooking or cleaning. When I moved to the UK, I started cooking, managing the house and at the same time, attended 9 - 5 classes, completed numerous assignments, exams, internships and 2 part-time jobs. Ufff.... My parents were super proud.
When I eat well and have a neat space, I will be the most productive person ever. Have you come across this in your life as well?
If you are not happy from within, you will not be able to focus on your work. Studying in the UK demands a lot of hard and smart work during your course of study. Believe it or not, the place you live will boost your abilities.
Most of the Campus-based Universities have on-campus accommodation, and they also have a guide for off-campus housing. For an international student, it is always exciting and overwhelming to choose your accommodation. When you select your accommodation, you must understand, analyse and evaluate the different options before deciding.
I have lived both on and off-campus during my course of study at Lancaster University. So, here in this article, I will briefly explain both the options and give you an international student-friendly solution too.
- Everything is within walking distance. Be it lecture theatres, support wings, gym, accommodation, supermarkets, restaurants, takeaways, book store, and all other facilities are within the same campus. When you have 9am - 5pm classes like I did, having all the walking distance facilities was a blessing.
- You can access facilities like Computer Lab, Library and Printing 24*7. During exam times, this will come in very handy. Some days I used to stay back in the library till 6am and head back to my room which was a 10-minute walk inside the campus.
- There will be a lot of group assignments and activities. So, staying on campus will help you collaborate with your colleagues easier.
- Friends as neighbours. When I was living in Graduate college at Lancaster University, we had weekend game nights in the social hub and some breakfast days. Ultimately, you build a sense of community within the campus.
- You will be living with a diverse group of people that will help you build your connections. In my on-campus flat, we were 8 of us sharing a kitchen. Most of them were pursuing their MBA and Masters in Marketing. So, whenever I had doubts on any subject, I asked for their help. They were super kind and helpful throughout.
- It is very safe. Almost all the Universities have 24*7 concierge on campus with security systems to monitor activities. If you have any issues or concerns, they are one call away.
- Reliable internet bandwidth. Here in the UK, the internet is EXPENSIVE. For 2GB of internet per month, you will end up paying £5/month. The entire campus will have WiFi facilities, so you don't have to worry about your internet connection.
- The rent is inclusive of all bills. If you stay on campus, you do not have to pay your water tax, electricity bills, council tax and internet. Your rent will be inclusive of all bills. It is definite peace of mind when you are in a foreign land.
- Medical care. Most campus-based universities will have a clinic inside for emergencies.
The University website will have all sorts of on-campus accommodation options, including standard rooms, en-suite rooms, and studio flats.
- High prices. The accommodation on campus is a bit expensive when compared to off-campus accommodations. I spent £700/ month on-campus housing, but I got apartments from £350/month when I moved out after the contract.
- Nightlife on campus is okayish. You will end up travelling to the city for parties.
- Laundry is paid. Both washing and drying are paid in on-campus accommodations. You end up spending around £10/month just on laundry.
- Limited Privacy. When you live on campus, there are specific university rules that you will have to follow. For example, at 1:30am you cannot jump around in the hallway and speak loudly. This is just an example, but all universities have different guidelines.
- You don't select your flatmates. This is a boon and a bane. If you get a good flatmate, you are sorted. But if you don't, just avoid that annoying person. Changing rooms is a huge process, and it is a waste of your time.
- There are a lot of budget-friendly options available for accommodation. You might save some money on the rent.
- A lot more private than on-campus accommodations. You can choose who you want to live with, where you want to live and how you want to live.
- Great nightlife. There are a lot of options for restaurants, bars, pubs and other world-class attractions.
- Some houses will have a washing machine and tumble dryer inside the kitchen. Yo-Yo, you can save £10/month.
- You will discover a lot of places, and it is suitable for relaxation.
- You will never be bored. There will be 1000's options for your sudden day-out plans.
- Usually, off-campus houses are located far away from the University. You will end up travelling for an hour a day.
- You might not get top-notch internet from your landlord. And you will end up spending £25/month for unlimited internet connection across all your devices.
- You will not be able to make full use of all the facilities on campus. To access all the facilities on campus, you might want to travel quite a lot from the city.
- During exam times travelling in a crowded tube or bus rides to your University will put you off.
- If you want to stay in an apartment with a 24*7 concierge facility, it is costly. But not all neighbourhoods are safe and friendly.
- All your peers and classmates will be living in different places. So, it will be tough to collaborate during group assignments.
Where you can find off-campus accommodation in UK?
Generally, the University website will also have few off-campus accommodation guidelines. I suggest you check with your University first. Alternatively, you can find reasonable accommodations from the following websites.
I chose on-campus accommodation for the first 40 weeks because I wanted to settle in a safer place. If I didn't like the accommodation, I had the option to move out for the final term.
That was the best decision because, for the first 40 weeks, I had classes from 9 am to 5 pm with a 1 hr lunch break in between. I literally woke up 30 minutes before classes; I cook and have my breakfast come lunch during my lunch break. I had a couple of part-time jobs and internships as well. So, it was easier for me to manage everything. Somedays, during lunch break, I just go sleep for an hour. This luxury is not available for off-campus students. Lol. I just can't imagine myself waking up early and travelling 30 minutes every morning to attend the first lecture.
I decided to move out after 40 weeks because it was the dissertation period, and there was no obligation to travel to the University. I am happy that I got a good landlord who graciously accepted a £350/month rent, including all bills. When I was on campus, I used to pay about £700 a month. But to be honest, on-campus accommodation was beneficial during the classes, and I would have never chosen off-campus accommodation for the first 40 weeks.
Choosing between on-campus and off-campus accommodation is subject to personal preferences. But for an international student, I would suggest you go with off-campus accommodation only after the first 40 weeks. In the interim, you will clearly understand and get to terms with all the rules and restrictions in the foreign land.
Talk to your University alumni and get the latest information regarding the best option. If you are considering Lancaster University, you can reach me on LinkedIn.
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