Hi, my name is Lucy. I am a second year Illustration student at Cardiff School of Art and Design, and last year I lived at Plas Gwyn halls, just a few minutes walk from Llandaff Campus.
I loved living in halls, and first year in general – here are some tips on how to get the most from it:
First year is a great time for this, and as well as going out on nights out to socialise and make friends, you can do lots of it in halls. I currently live with my flat mates from first year and will be doing the same in my final year too. I am really grateful for the relationships I have made.
You’ll be surprised how much happens in the kitchen! Even if you are cooking different meals, doing it at the same time is a good way to build friendships and talk about your day.
If you can, try to make friends on your course and other flats in your block as well as your own. You can also look into clubs, teams and societies that you could join as a way to meet new people.
We also have the Met Res Life programme at Cardiff Met. They put on lots of alcohol-free events and activities, from free Domino’s pizza nights to free sports games tickets, cooking classes and more. This is just for first years, so make the most of it!
The practical stuff
As well as the fun parts of living in halls, it’s important to stay on top of the practical stuff.
Keeping the kitchen tidy is one way to avoid arguments within the flat. It also makes your life a lot easier, as every term you will have a kitchen inspection as well as one for you room.
Cleaners do come in during the week, but they will only clean the areas and surfaces they can get to – if the worktops are full of dirty plates, they will ask you to sort it out!
Looking after yourself is important too. Llandaff North Medical Centre is a short walk from Plas Gwyn, so it’s a good idea to sign up to a local doctor. This will be a lot easier than having to travel home when you need an appointment. Don’t forget though – when you move in second year you will have to re-register to a doctor closer to your new address.
It’s also worth mentioning that reception are really helpful. Not only did we have 24hr security plus halls managers Angela and Lisa on hand in the day to help with problems, but they were also able to sign for parcels. As an art student I would often get art supplies delivered, and this was so much easier than in second year when getting parcels delivered to a shared house.
One more top tip – be prepared for the fire alarms! They can go off a lot due to drills and occasionally people burning their toast, so have a dressing gown and shoes to hand for when the fire alarm goes off at night – this will definitely happen at some point!
Cycling is a great way to get around Cardiff. At Plas Gywn there are locked bike sheds for storing your bike, and we have Next Bikes (similar to the Boris Bikes in London) on site. These are free for 30 minutes from taking the bike out, and there are racks on Llandaff campus, in the city centre and all over Cardiff to lock them back up!
The most helpful thing I bought for getting around was a Met Rider season ticket for Cardiff Bus. This is a subsidised ticket for the whole year that lets you get on any route run by Cardiff Bus. If you are planning on getting the bus more than once a week it is definitely worth your money.
The University also has an agreement with a local taxi company, Dragon Taxis. If for some reason you need a taxi home but you don’t have any money – for example if you’ve lost your wallet or purse – you can book a Dragon Taxi, state your student number and the university will pay for you to get home safe. You then pay the university back for the trip afterwards.
Cardiff also has both Ola and Uber, which can be cheaper than normal taxis.
What to bring with you
Deciding what to bring with you to uni can be a challenge – here are some things I found really useful:
- Door stops – really useful for holding open doors on moving day, plus keeping your door open when you’re in leads to making friends and having more conversations
- Drying rack for washing – these can double up as a drying rack for paintings if you’re an art student too!
- Photos of family and friends – these will help your room feel a lot more like your own
- Mattress protector
- Mirror with over-the-door hooks
- Sliders/Slippers – the floors aren’t always the cleanest when there are lots of people in a flat!
- Fancy dress items – these come in handy for Halloween and parties.
- Extension lead(s) – Plas Gwyn will PAT test all your electrical items for you too
- Printer and ink – there are lots of printers at uni and a computer room with printers at Plas Gywn, but it is convenient and cost effective to have your own
- Washing basket – you can keep your dirty washing in it and easily carry it down to the laundry room
- Ear plugs – handy if your flatmates come back late at night or snore!
- Pack of cards
- Plates and cutlery – buy things that can easily be recognised as yours, like cutlery with coloured handles, otherwise everyone ends up with the same set from IKEA!
- Cold medicine – for freshers flu
- Important documents – bring your ID, Passport, NHS medical number, national insurance number etc. You never know when you might get an exciting travel or work opportunity, and you won’t want to have to travel home to get them!
Make the most of it!
First year is your year to explore, try new things, have fun and meet new people. Making the most of the facilities and things around you is so important, and there are lots of perks to living in halls.
Have fun, take care of yourself and get involved. You won’t regret it!