Don't Get Me Started On... Student Housing

It’s 2am on a Tuesday and the house is silent, until a piercing siren cuts through the air and we all jolt awake. It’s the fire alarm again, going off for the third time today. Providing us with a constant source of amusement and a comforting assurance that we won’t be burned alive, it’s just one of the eccentricities that comes with our curious house in Gilesgate. I emerge from a sleepy haze to see what has set it off- burnt toast, yet again. In my soporific state, I forget to put shoes on, and my socks stick to the floor so firmly that I actually can’t move. I peel them off, surprised- this is a rare state for the floor to be in as it usually resembles an ice rink. How anyone could have designed a material so impressively unsuitable I’ll never know, but it does provide us with a frequent source of entertainment: seeing who can perform the most contorted dance without face-planting the floor.

I’m sure we can all agree on one thing: student housing isn’t renowned for its luxury. But there’s an expected level of squalor, and then there’s this. Following a catastrophe in second year, I was hoping for slightly less drama upon my return to Durham. We’d all signed the contract from various corners of the globe, with no clue what the house was like aside from a few generous photographs.

I arrived to torrential rain and a chaotic house that would be more aptly described as a hovel. There was a general rotting smell diffusing through the air which we sourced to the fridge; the house was so hot we had to leave the windows open for 24 hours before it cooled down; the bins were spilling over with decomposing remains of god knows what; the freezer had leaked its foul contents onto the ice-rink floor and mould was gathering on the ceilings. The previous tenants had also decided switch off the wifi just as we arrived, so that we were cast back to the 20th century for several weeks. We resorted to watching TV using a license we didn’t realise we had, but the lack of working remotes meant we spent several evenings watching shows on Hitler.  

It took a few weeks to grow accustomed to the house. The kitchen was initially so dark it was difficult to cook without slicing several fingers off, but when once they replaced the two missing bulbs they were so bright the kitchen resembled a psychiatric ward crossed with a dingy dungeon. There’s a curious trap door into one of the guy’s rooms from the kitchen, which has resulted in several cat and mouse chases. Another room is literally in the back porch, which, come winter, will be bone-numbingly cold.

But despite all my complaints, I’m loving life in Gilesgate. There’s an apple tree which, three crumbles later, we’ve fully made use of; we’re in the process of brewing our own beer which has filled the entire house with the interesting aroma of malt, and a few weeks ago we rejoined the 21st century with the much-anticipated arrival of internet!

Wakenshaw Road. Bills excluded. Eccentricities included.