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Why NOT living in Sheffield was the right choice for me

by Education, Culture and Childhood BA student, Nicole Bradford

When thinking about university, it is no secret that the phrases ‘university experience’ and ‘student accommodation’ are thrown into every sentence, with an excited buzz around the idea of starting a new life in a new city. Whilst this is the reality for many university students and something referred to by some as the best time of their lives, there is no shame in deviating from tradition and doing university your way.

I remember sitting in the communal space at my sixth form, waiting for our session on universities to start. We had students from universities around the country come in to speak to us about their courses, universities and cities and to answer any questions we may have. However, as I worked my way around the carousel of students talking about their accommodation and the best places to live in their city, it quickly became clear that these sessions were not targeted towards students like me. In fact, not a single student attending this event was a commuter. With this in mind, I had to learn about the pros and cons of commuting for myself. Fortunately for me, it was the best decision I ever made.

Whilst student accommodation is a great way to make friends and fully immerse yourself in the university lifestyle, it is a huge financial cost which some students simply cannot afford — myself included. If I could go back and change my decision, I can honestly say that I would not change a thing as the money saved from not having to pay for accommodation has allowed me to travel and even save some money towards a house deposit! This is all down to personal preference and your individual priorities but to me, there is nothing more important than seeing the world and being able to do this, whilst working towards a better future both academically and financially, really did seem like the best of both worlds!

Speaking of the best of both worlds — commuting allowed me to have a social life as and when I wanted it, without the pressure of having to be constantly up for a night out. As someone who is very close to my family and has lifelong friends still in my hometown, commuting to university allowed me to regularly see the most important people in my life, whilst also meeting new friends at university. It is always an option to book a hotel (or even stay with friends if they are feeling kind) so there is absolutely no need to miss out on a social life. With the money saved from not having to pay for student accommodation, you can even afford to buy your friend a drink two as a thank you for letting you stay over!

This is not to say that commuting doesn’t come with its challenges, however. Depending on how far away you live from your university, you have to be prepared for early starts and the inevitable chance of delayed buses, trains or trams. Whilst sitting in an empty carriage in the sunshine with a cup of coffee is the commuter’s dream, standing in the rush hour crush in the depths of winter is not so idyllic. This is where it is crucial to weigh up your priorities from your university experience and ask yourself what is most important and what you are willing to sacrifice to achieve this.

On the whole, the ‘university experience’ is completely subjective and is not one size fits all. Whilst this is student accommodation and frequent nights out for many students, this is not the case for everyone. There is no shame in making choices which benefit you and your situation the most and the experience of no two students will be the same. Whether you stay in student accommodation or commute from your hometown, every student just wants to look back with fond memories when they graduate and regardless of your choices, you will have made memories which will last a lifetime.



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