Finding suitable accommodation is a very important aspect of student life….. almost as important (if not more) as finding the right course to suit your aptitude and vocation. The apprehensions of a new university, new surroundings, new course and new accommodation (and so on as the list is endless) which cross a fresher’s mind in the first few weeks, i.e. the settling-in phase, are more than enough to keep you occupied. Amongst them, the apprehension which might affect you the most is your choice of place of stay as everything else revolves around this choice.
For most, the best choice would probably be to opt for halls of residence, which cater to all your requirements, and then hope that you get good flat mates to provide a congenial atmosphere. From an international student’s perspective, I would say that it would be by far the best choice to secure a place in the halls of residence to avoid the hassles of chasing property agents and signing loads of deeds and agreements upon your arrival in a new city. However, despite the know-how of the scheme of things here, I somehow had missed out in applying on time for halls last year. Also, I did require a studio apartment, to cater for my wife and daughter, in case they joined me a couple of months later. Therefore, I had to look for a private rented accommodation. Now sitting back in India, it was an uphill task to look for a house here in Southampton…. so began the arduous circle of hours spent over the internet viewing matching profiles for suitable houses followed by numerous emails sent to the agents/landlords and occasional phone calls to have a conversation. When I look back in retrospect, I realise that way back in September last year, I was quite tense and worried about the state of things. I am naturally quite organised and planned and hate doing things at the last moment. However, blame it on Murphy’s Law, I always find myself in this precarious situation every now and then. So, I had my plate full as September approached with no news of my Tier-4 visa, no offer of accommodation and not even my onward flight tickets. My visa came as late as the first week of September and I knew I was in serious trouble if I did not finalise a place to stay in Southampton as soon as possible.
One sultry afternoon in Delhi, after a hearty meal, I resumed my search for a prospective house suiting my taste and budget. Was it the unprecedented heat of September or the exasperation of my efforts turning out to be futile? Whatever it might be, I decided to look for some B&Bs in Southampton for the first week of my stay here till I zeroed in on some private rented accommodation. “Ramsay’s Retreat”….the name sounded convincing and even more convincing was the price. Soon enough, I found myself emailing the owner of the B&B for a rate for one week of stay on my arrival and wound up my search, disillusioned and disheartened.
I got a reply the next day and the owner offered to rent one of the rooms in the house to me and keep the other for himself, for a decent price. I had seen the pictures of the house and it looked good and I was rather tempted to grab the offer. But Nooooo……'Think from your head and not your heart'….I heard these words of wisdom ringing in my ears. I decided to speak to the owner in person. A young guy of 25 (well, he sounded at least 45 over the phone… mature and seasoned), the owner had completed his degree from the University of Swansea and was running the B&B and had landed a job in Lloyds Register. Thus, he wanted to rent his place. A brief chat with him and I knew that the deal was struck. He sounded convincing and I was dying to be convinced, tired of my search. The only issue was the distance to the university. Well, Google map said that the distance to the University was 2.9 miles, and I was wondering how feasibile it would be to travel 6 miles up and down daily. However, beggars can’t be choosers… so that was it.
View from my balcony
As I entered the house when I arrived here, I knew I had made a good choice. The house seemed to have been done up recently and with a lot of care and caution. It was a fully furnished house and the arrangement of it all suggested it to be a brainchild of some very meticulous and conscientious mind. I was truly impressed as I could see a little bit of me in the house already. My bedroom was cosy with a huge window overlooking the trees behind. It had a huge lounge and a very tidy kitchen. Well, that was all I wanted.
Sunday lunch with friends
It was ‘love at first sight’ with the house and despite the commuting time of around 2 hours to and fro from the University, I never wanted to leave the place. The place has so much positive energy and is away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Over the months, many of my friends were curious about my choice of stay particularly due to the travel time. However, upon their visit to my place, I found them to be its most ardent fans. And thus, we have had many barbecue afternoons and dinners at my place. It has been my sanctuary for the last ten months and I shall definitely miss this place once I go back home. This house in Edelvale Road shall always have a special place in my heart!