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When most people head off to university, they’re left to fend for themselves for food. For most, it’s the first time they’ve ever cooked and the meals are usually basic. However, some students end up living in catered halls, which can be a challenge in itself. So, for those who are catered this year, here’s the low-down on what it’s like.

Overall, catered halls are great

Yes, that’s right – I loved living in catered accommodation last year. It was a great chance to break the ice with everyone in freshers’ week as you all walk down to get your meals together and share meal times with each other.

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They make you feel less lonely

University loneliness is hardly spoken about, but it’s very much real. One thing I found that really helped with that is eating with others in a communal area. It broke up the day, and meant you actually spoke to other human beings by lunch time at the latest.

One of the good things about catered halls is that you get the chance to strengthen friendships from the off. Asking your corridor mates what time they want to go for dinner is a great way to form a group.

The food is actually decent

You’re not living out of tin cans! The food isn’t that bad. Yes, it will get repetitive towards the end. You’ll be sick of the same food, but at least it’s food of substance.

Catered halls save a lot of time

So many people I know who have been self-catered in their uni accommodation spend a huge chunk of their time cooking. In first year, who can be bothered? If you have the luxury of being catered, cherish it because you have so much more time on your hands.

Even though you might spend a little longer eating, you’re doing it with friends and having a good laugh.

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One thing: it’s a bit like boarding school

My one real complaint with catered halls is that it is probably so similar to boarding school. Going down to the hall with all your mates to eat every meal together, then going back to your block and chilling there mirrors that system. Sometimes it can be a bit stifiling and by the end you might be ready to break free of the system, but it’s not the end of the world.

So, living in catered halls is a great experience, and it’s something people turn their noses up at far too often. Yes, it may seem posh at first, but it’s so much easier to make friends and form bonds that way.