It feels like the end of the world. The unthinkable happened. You missed out on halls.
Right now, it probably feels pretty scary; you’re in a state of panic thinking What on earth do I do now? Where am I going to live? Am I going to miss out on all the fun of freshers?
But it’s okay – no, really, it is – because while getting into halls may feel like the be all and end all, it certainly isn’t.
Trying to organise accommodation from overseas can be tricky – it’s not as if you can just pop to the next town for a couple of quick house viewings. But technology is magical – and, believe it or not, you are not the first international student this has happened to.
So, take a minute to grieve if you really had your heart set on living in halls – it’s okay to feel disappointed – but don’t let it quell your excitement for university. No matter where you end up living you’re bound to make wonderful friends and feel at home in no time.
Speak to your university
First things first, you must have had an email or letter notifying you you didn’t get a place in halls, right? Read that once more and check if there is any advice in it on what to do next.
If you really are absolutely distraught, there might be a waiting list for halls you can get yourself on, and, as an international student, you are likely to be prioritised. Don’t ask, don’t get, so it’s always worth checking. Sometimes students don’t turn up or they drop out after a few days so there is always the possibility a room could come up.
Some universities have specific accommodation guidance teams who will be ready to take you through the next steps, suggesting websites to visit and setting you up with potential housemates. Others might leave you out there on your own a little more but there is no harm in sending a quick email across to ask what help is available.
A month until the start of Uni and still haven't got my accommodation sorted because I didn't get into halls, what a nightmare
— Scott (@Scott_Duffy08) August 26, 2015
Many universities have a list of houses or letting agents they trust and will at least be able to point you in the right direction even if they can’t hold your hand as you go.
Get yourself on Facebook and search for freshers groups. You should find many students, both domestic and international, who are in the exact same position as you, trying to figure out what to do next.
If no one has posted anything about missing out on halls, be the first one to do so. The chances are, in no time you’ll have one, two or 46 replies from people also looking for somewhere to stay.
You could also try Twitter, tagging your university and maybe adding a few relevant hashtags – you never know who might see it!
Look on the bright side
Try not to feel too disheartened. You may have heard stories about how life in halls makes for a ‘must have’ university experience – but many many students don’t ever live in halls of residence for numerous different reasons and still have a blast at uni.
University of Brighton student Kiera Ford* was heartbroken when she discovered the university did not have enough rooms in halls of residence for her but told Study International it was a blessing in disguise.
“At first I was so sad because all my friends were in halls and that was where they seemed to make most of their friends,” she said. “It seemed like a giant community that I wouldn’t be part of.”
At the time, it felt awful, but “in the end I actually loved having my own house”.
“It’s nice because it’s your own space and it’s just generally nicer than halls, and I was super lucky that I ended up living with three amazing people who are now some of my best friends,” she added.
Ford claimed the university was incredibly helpful, placing everyone who didn’t get into halls into a housing programme in which she (virtually) met her new housemates – who she still lives with now in her second year.
So glad I didn't get into halls at uni now, being in a house is so chilled
— Lauren (@laurencooper_1) March 2, 2017
It’s also likely to be cheaper to live in a house, plus you’ll find yourself much more independent than your halls-dwelling peers.
Organise viewings if you can
If your visa will allow you to be in the country before your studies begin, you could always book yourself into a hostel, hotel or BnB – or stay with family or friends if you already know people in the country – and have a look at some houses in person.
If you can’t get to your university city too far in advance of the term beginning, remember all those domestic students you connected with online? Give them a message and see if they could view a house for a group of you. You could even ask them to video-call you, so you can see the house in real-time and ask any questions you might have directly to the letting agent or landlord/lady while they are there.
Didn't get into halls? Don't worry! I never stayed in halls and my Uni experience was just as good as those who did- if not better 😉
— Evangeline Solomon (@BSUVPWelfare) August 22, 2014
Remember, your university is invested in you – so the chances of staff there allowing you to just turn up with nowhere to live are pretty slim.
Use the internet to your advantage, put yourself out there, don’t be afraid to ask for help and remember, this is just a small hurdle – the real adventure is just beginning.
*Student has chosen to use a pseudonym.