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Struggling as a Second Year in Dorms

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

I remember a distinct day in January when my friend and I sat down to discuss our housing situation for the next year. We made the Google Doc to end all Google Docs, ranked all of the houses we could find online in order of preference, and made a large folder of pre-filled forms to send out on demand. We were the picture of prepared.

After this, my friend and I (and our parents) began to realize how bad the housing crisis in St Andrews was, and how desperate the situation had become. My friend got stressed, my mom got spooked, and when we got the offer to return to halls (in the second round of acceptances) we decided to take it. It hadn’t been what I wanted at all, but “at least I got a roof over my head and a bed to sleep in”. It could have been worse: I still had food prepared, didn’t have to worry about any bills, and didn’t have to clean too much. Now, I am still in my old single room and my friend I was house-hunting with lives in the same dorm too. However, I was left unexcited at the end of the summer to come back. This wasn’t what I wanted—my own new space, to be closer to the rest of our friends we’d lived with the year before, a double bed. I felt like I hadn’t had any say in what had been decided. But I knew this was something I just had to make the best of.

Immediately upon moving in I realized I had perhaps worried myself into a hole (as per usual). Secondly, I realized how long a year was. Time often feels like it falls away fast, but it wasn’t until I was observing the freshers in the dining hall and thinking back to when I was in their place that I began to realize the power of twelve months. It was almost painful to think back to my own naivety last September. Frankly, it felt a little like consuming acid. I realized I barely connected with my former self, this girl who hadn’t yet met those who would come to hurt her, who hadn’t yet met her best best friends. 

In conclusion, returning to dorms for another year was a surefire way to appreciate the way things played out. Although I am grateful for the experience I gained in first year (and had an absolute blast) I wouldn’t want to go back and relive this time in my life, and I believe that is a healthy conclusion for me to reach—it means I can focus more on the present and the future without envy. Most importantly, being back in dorms this year doesn’t mean I am back in first year, like I had originally worried about. Being back in halls actually feels extremely normal. I had everything I needed already, I’ve met a few new people (and this time around, meeting new people lacks the distinct pressure of desperately trying to find friends). The noise during freshers was a bit loud but it has since quieted. I can take as long of a hot shower as I want and run my hair dryer. The studying amenities are a godsend for when I just can’t make it out that day to the library. The walk to see my friends passes quickly and I am now familiar with more areas of St Andrews I am comfortable to jog in. 

Going into the rest of the year, I expect everything to be uneventful. Besides cooking and having access to my friends’ flats, I don’t see my year playing out that much differently than if I had been lucky and found a flat. Returning to dorms is a completely normal and viable option for second year accommodation that I can (so far) recommend to anyone looking for options, especially because you can pick your dorm and room. Bonus? I have been missing the “finding a flat” stress since March.

My advice to those struggling with the idea of not having a flat is to just take each day as it comes. Some days are slow, some are boring, some are lonely. However, it’s important to remember that experiencing this isn’t exclusive to being in dorms again. The growing pains of living somewhere new exist wherever you are living. Shifting my focus to remembering that this room served me well last year and will continue to help me grow this year. And if worst comes to worst: rearranging a shelf also helps too.

Riley Raab

St. Andrews '26

Hey! My name is Riley and I am a Texan transplant studying English and Management at the University of St Andrews as a first year. I am passionate about European chocolate, weighted blankets, spending time outside, reading, and writing.