How not to look for student accommodations in London

[Ed’s note: Indi is the Sagada backpack-toting traveler on the header (top). EM students, we’d like to find out if Indi’s case is representative of your room/flat/house-hunting experiences. Please leave a comment.]

1. Do it at the last minute
I was supposed to be headed for Denmark in the fall of 2006. The Aarhus University International Secretariat had found me a nice summer house to move into with other CoMundus students before we transfer to a proper residence hall. It was near the beach and the forest, and just a few minutes by bike away from the Uni. It was going to be good. But then there was the matter of my Danish visa. And the long, long wait. June turned to July and then to August. The semester in Denmark had already begun in September. Making endless phonecalls to the visa section only to get disappointed were part of the countdown. By the time I got my student permit, my coordinator had already advised me to suspend my Euro trip and fly in for the spring term instead. But I had already quit my job, was given a despedida and made the rounds of the ukay-ukays for winter gear. To make a long story short, I ended up going to my host university – IoE in London- first since I could still make it for the autumn term there which started in October.

2. Regret not signing that university residence hall contract
Despite my impending late arrival in London, the IoE coordinators were still able to book a place for me – Clandon Residence Hall, which I would be sharing with some other Erasmus students for roughly over £100 per week, excluding heat and light. The contract which began in September, however, stipulated that I had to pay for the entire term – including the six weeks I was not there (a period when I didn’t even have any idea I would be in England, for crying out loud) and I found that disagreeable.

3. Get rejected by religious places (Just kidding)
Looking for a decent roof to put over my head was so hard, that I considered getting into one of the religious-run places like the catered women’s dorm which fellow CoMundus Pinay Abby found to be quite satisfactory. Her place, however, was fully booked so I opted for another one which had vacancies. My online application was not accepted by the nuns who were running that other place. Not for religious reasons, really, but because I was over the age limit.

4. Bunk in a hostel in backpacker central
Cut to the second week of October, London. And so it came to pass that I found myself halfway across the world, with my lips cracked and my nose bleeding from the chilly air, struggling to haul 27 kilos of my life in two suitcases up several narrow flights of stairs at the Smart Hyde Park Inn in Bayswater. With barely enough energy, I opened the door of my mixed-shared lodgings to find one of my new room mates, sprawled and snoring, half-naked atop one of four rickety bright blue double decker beds. “Welcome to London.” I told myself before collapsing in exhaustion on the lone mattress that had no linen or piles of dirty clothes.

(To be continued)

Indira C. Endaya
European Masters in Media, Communication and Cultural Studies (06-08 )
Århus, Denmark/London, UK
Categories: Life in Europe | Tags: | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “How not to look for student accommodations in London

  1. Jill

    Amen! Amen! to collapsing in exhaustion on a bare mattress and greeted by your new flatmate in boxers!

  2. i thought clandon was £80 a week because it’s far. i was quite lucky with my residence hall in london, which was roughly £120pw with daily breakfast and dinner. the catch was the curfew. i wasn’t so lucky in denmark, where i paid a ridiculous amount for the deposit and was overcharged for tiny marks on the wall and hard water marks on the sink.

  3. Re: Housing Problems – Something happened to us at NTNU, in Norway. We were made to pay for August (by the housing facility) even if we haven’t used the rooms yet because it is their (housing) policy. We told the International Office of NTNU about it but they replied in the negative. I complained to our Coordinator and told my classmates to do the same. They tackled the issue in a meeting. Fortunately, we have been refunded!

  4. Jill

    I had the best accommodation in Hamburg, Germany arranged by Univ of Hamburg – the cheapest among all cities I’ve stayed, its right across the train station in the middle of the city, and seemed like a serviced condotel. Wasn’t too lucky in Italy – lived too far from the Univ that I had to walk to for 2 hours every time there were bus strikes (which happened more than once.) The flat in UK was the most expensive, plus had to pay for heat and water.

  5. shiella

    i have a thing to say about accommodations in London! i had to postpone my trip to London because i have not secured a place, yet. i was already anxious as i have gotten negative replies from the residence halls i applied to. fortunately, there was a Pinay staff in John Adams Hall-JAH (i have been wanting to get a room there!) and she was able to put me on the first spot in the wait list! JAH is a prime spot in Central London, just a 5-minute walk from IOE and so close to the British Museum, Oxford Street and Leicester Square. the hall was old and ran-down that time but i did not mind. it had a quaint appeal that i really love. but at some point we had to vacate it as it was scheduled to be refurbished the summer of 2006. so i moved out and transferred to International Hall. but JAH will always be special. 🙂

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