I was lucky enough to earn myself a place at the university of sheffield in 2007 and applied to be in university Self-catered accomodation. After a year of living there it became like a second home to me. When applying for accomodation at a university there are a number of different things to ask yourself:
1. catered or self-caterd?
This was quite an easy decision for me as I love cooking my own food and so I immediatly knew i wanted to be self-catered. This gave me the freedom to eat what i liked when i liked, and didn't make me feel like i was loosing money if i went out for a meal (as i didn't have one pre-paid for). The other good thing is that if you're careful with money it probably works out quite alo cheaper to be self-catered. However, i know it wasn't as easy for some people, and some found that going self-catered was the wrong decision. If you choose to be catered you get a swipe card which automatically gets £30 on it each week (not enough according to alot of people). This is for breakfast and one other meal in the day. You use the money up on the card and can deposit more money if you require. You can use the card at 'The Edge',the eating place for endcliffe site residents, or at a number of places down at the union. This means that if you are in lectures around lunchtime, you can pop in to the union to get your lunch and do not have to travelk back up to 'The Edge'. Many of my catered friends often commented that the food started off good at the beginning of the year and then declined....whether is is the concensus i do not know. Finally, the social side of being catered is also good, especially during the first few weeks where you can use dinner as an opportunity to get to know people.
As of 2008, there are only two main sites where students can live. There used to be ranmoor, but this was knocked down in 2008 and is being built into a new complex of accomodation. I was on the Endcliffe site, a mix of old victorian houses to newly finished modern flats with en-suite. The endcliffe site is newly developed and centred around 'The Edge', a cafe/bar/function suite where there is a 24 hr reception if you have any problems. Endcliffe site is about a 15 minute walk from the main union (if you walk quite fast) and is a nice walk through broomhill (a place which has a supermarket, bakery, charity shops, takeaways, post office and fruit and veg shop as well as many other cafes and pubs etc). This was a perfect compromise for me, as being from a villiage originally i did not want to be right in the city. Broomhill is sightly out, but you can get to everywhere you need to by walking.
The city accomodation is also quite newly built. I think most of it is slightly more expensive, but if you like to be right in the centre of the nightlife then the city accomodation may be for you. I think most of the city accomodation is also en-suite.
3. En-suite/shared bathroom?
Having an en-suite bathroom is often very important for alot of people when they are choosing which accomodation to apply for. I did not apply for en-suite accomodation for a number of reasons, and was placed in a flat with two toilets and one shower shared between 5. I found this worked very well. I never had to queue for either the shower or toilet in the whole year. We also had a cleaner in once a fortnight to clean the kitchen and bathroom and this worked well also. Having an en-suite would have been nice, but to be honest for the extra cost i don't think it would have been worth it.
Wherever you end up getting placed for accomodation you will make it your own and if you make the most of what you have got you will have a great time.
If you already decided to enroll into University of Sheffield, Good for you! Sheffield as a city isn't the most vibrant, but take heed that most essentials are available right around the corner. Anyway, Back to Victoria House. From the brochure housing services has sent to you, you probably have glanced upon the picture of a dodgy looking old building. Well, in this case, looks aren't deceiving. Being such an old building, the outside view can be a bit disconcerting. However, take comfort that it isn't actually that bad! When i applied for accomodation, i placed Broadlane Court as my first choice, followed by Mappin Court and Ranmoor lastly. However, i was allocated to Victoria House! I was pretty disappointed that most of my friends managed to be allocated to Broadlane Court, a significantly newer building complete with an individual phone line and free dial-up internet service. The best thing about Victoria House is its location. It's very central. 5 mins brisk walk to the management and engineering schools, 3 mins slow walk to Natwest or HSBC Bank and the Tramstop, and the best part, you are on the tip of West Street, the most 'happening street' in Sheffield with all the Takeaway stores (Crown Pizza, Popeyes and Aslan's Kebabs) in addition to Wetherspoons, Cavendish and Varsity! It's nice to point out that Wetherspoons is just opposite Victoria House! Food just around the corner! Furthermore, there are a many shortcuts leading to the City Centre, the Moor (also part of the city centre where i shop for my amenities). All in all, the location is the BEST! Now lets talk about the flats. In every flat there are 5 rooms. Room 1 being the smallest whilst Rooms 2 to 5 are very wide and spacious, with a wash basin in every room in addition to 5 power points. The room also has a relatively spacious cupboard (3m height x1.5m width) along with a study table and 2 small cabinets, each with 3 drawe
rs. Of course, you have a very wide study table (approx 1.25m in length). By the way, the only source of lighting is a 100w lightbulb dangling from the ceiling. Enough about the room, more about the flat. You have a kitchen, 1 toilet and 1 shower. No common areas, though. The kitchen is equipped with a refrigerator, oven, electric stoves, and a microwave oven. Basics actually. There are no individual phone lines in each room, hence no internet! The reason given by Housing Services is that the tramlines which run along West Street prevents underground cabling to be done to the University Servers. The only way you are going to get a phone line installed is to do it privately with British Telecoms (BT). You foot the installation, subscription, rental bills. However, if you are lucky to be allocated to a room whereby the previous tenant had a phone socket installed, then you just need to subscribe to BT to have the socket active with a new number. Now, i was a resident in Flat A, whereby collectively, my flatmates and i decided that we wanted a Broadband service installed. In Room 2, Flat A, there was already a phone socket installed by the previous tenant. Since most of us were tech savvy, we applied to housing services for permission to do our own cabling work, hence forming a network between 5 rooms sharing a broadband connection. And all 5 of us thoroughly made full use of it during our short stay. In short, we were the only flat in the whole of Victoria House to enjoy Broadband in the year 2002/03. Take note, that should you be allocated to Flat A, you have an option to do what we did, make the best of it! As the last part of the review, i will comment about the facillities which Victoria House Offers, a common laundry room consisting of only a single washing machine and a dryer. Only one Flat, FLAT M (solely for girls) had the privilege of their own washing machine. That's it. No common areas for all the residents of Victori
a House to congregate, No Tv room, basically the whole of Victoria House is quiet, peaceful and devoid of any social activities. In conclusion, my stay at Victoria House has had its moments, good and bad. The good.. all my wonderful housemates (Note that Housing services usually allocates 2 foreign students and 3 local students per flat) who were courteous, honest and sociable. Broadband was another good thing. The bad.. limited social contacts with residents of other flats, and the humilliation of stating to your friends that you stayed at Victoria House (they will give you a sympathetic look because as mentioned earlier, it isn't the most beautiful of buildings). All in all, it isn't about the place you stay but the people you stay with.
Choosing where to live at Sheffield, or any other university is a rather tortuous decision, as you peruse the Home from Home brochure, comparing price, distance from university, and facilities in order to make your choice. Remember that not everything looks like the photo and perhaps question why certain buildings have a large tree in the foreground to distract you. Though of course Housing Services are more than likely to not even give you one of the three choices that you have gone for. Fill in your application form honestly though and if you don’t want to share a room just say that instead of making up an elaborate reason. The choices of accommodation are: Halls of Residence, Self catering flats or if you are very brave, private housing. This opinion starts off with information about some of the flats in Sheffield and ends up with a list of stuff that may be handy to bring along to university with you. I’m not sure how it ended up there but if it seems to not belong here, let me know and I may move it somewhere else. **Self Catering Flats** I decided to trade in living with lots of people in Halls in the first year with freedom and not having to eat school like dinners. University self catering accommodation does offer good value for money. There are 11 self catering flat complexes at the University of Sheffield. They are: Broad Lane Court Crescent Flats Crewe Flats Crookesmoor House Endcliffe Vale Flats Mappin Court Riverdale Flats Taptonville Flats Victoria Hall Woodvale Flats Wolfson Flats Apparently, these, along with the self-catering houses, also owned by the University, provide around 2,000 places for students with around 75% being first year students. They also have places reserved for a proportion of second year students, postgraduate students and also those who will spend time abroad as part of their degree. I haven’t visited all of these flats so I wi
ll try and give you some more information about the flats I know and also about living in self-catering accommodation. There is more information on the university website and in the alternative prospective (available from the Recruitment and Admissions Office). Distance isn’t necessarily a good indicator in Sheffield, as a flat might be nearer but involve walking up an Everest like slope. Taptonville Flats and Tapton Hall being good examples of this. **Taptonville Flats** I lived in Taptonville Flats (or Taptonhill Flats as we so hilariously renamed them?) are certainly not the flagship housing of the University. They are rather reminiscent of a shoebox and not as attractive. Still they have good sized rooms, and a large kitchen/ dining/ living room, depending on how sociable your flatmates are. The furniture although seventies, redeems itself because you get a really large wardrobe and desk and reasonable bed, compared to the newer complexes which defy you to share your very narrow prison like bed with anyone else. There is a small launderette at the end of one of the rows of flats, it is hard to get to use it, but it beats walking down the hill to use the launderette. They are near to Tapton Halls of residence and Crookes which has lots of nice pubs, takeaways, videoshops and a strangely smelling supermarket. Crookes doesn’t have any bank machines but Broomhill is at the bottom of the road, but be warned it’s a very steep hill and when it snows you could ski down it. Since I left there, they have recarpeted and the lovely orange curtains are no more, but there is only a tiny shower and toilet next to a large glass front door, so when we were there you had to dash from the shower so you didn’t expose yourself to the world. You do only live with 4 other people but there are lots of flats together, so if you don’t get on with your housemates, or even if you do there are lots of other people to
drink with. And it’s nearer to university than most of the university accommodation. **Crookesmoor House** Crookesmoor House is a converted church and very impressive looking from the outside with grounds where you can sunbathe and have barbeques, if the weather is nice of course. There are also parking spaces for students. However, it’s an example of “this would be really nice if they had only spent a bit more money” inside it is a little disappointing. There are 4 flats, each of which have spaces for 14 students, this includes 6 people having to share rooms. The flats vary slightly, but the rooms are laid out in a corridor arrangement, with the bedrooms and bathrooms leading off from here. At the end is a dining room with 2 kitchens leading off from here. The rooms vary incredibly in size and it is the luck of the draw as to the size of the room you will get. The wardrobes are bolted to the wall which means there is a limited amount of rearranging that you can do to your room. The heating is controlled by a thermostat in one room in Flat D, so unless you are incredibly lucky, you will have no climate control. Saying this, I always found the flats to be incredibly hot. **Riverdale and Endcliffe Vale** Riverdale Flats are the further away from the campus and also the cheapest. When I used to visit them they were rather prison-like, however, I hear they have been renovated. There are no baths here though only showers. They benefit from backing on to Endcliffe Park. Endcliffe Vale is the flagship housing project of the university or it was in 1994, the year it was built. The flats are purpose built and have the best facilities of the self catering flats. The flats house 8 people, and there are 2 bathrooms and huge kitchens. Some flats also have balconies and look out onto the grounds of the main halls of residence. **The boring stuff** - Rents Rents range between £1600-
£1800 for the session. The session is defined as the 38 week period from the Saturday preceding Intro Week to the Saturday following the end of the summer term. It includes rent for the Christmas and Easter holiday which means, that unlike Halls, you can stay or at least leave your belongings in your flats. The year’s rent is due in 3 installments, at the start of each term. Along with this, a deposit is taken for fuel at the start of the year and fuel usage is deducted from this amount. The system seems quite complicated and it’s probably best to let the staff get on with it. If you wish to extend the period of rent, for example if you realise that on the last Saturday of the year you will have a horrible hangover and want to lie in bed rather than move, then contact Housing Services who charge a daily rate of rent. - Insurance Some companies offer contents insurance specifically for students which can be quite expensive. Also note the restrictions on the policy. Houses are more likely to be burgled during the holidays however, most policies exclude the holiday period which is kind of useless. However, your parents are almost certainly going to have their own contents insurance and most insurers will include your possessions for free or a small fee with a much better policy as well. Do get insurance though! -Cleaning Room cleaning in included in the rent and you get your room cleaned once a fortnight, with the kitchens and bathrooms getting cleaned once a week. Room cleaning always seems to happen very early in the morning. A hoover is left in the house if you are that bothered about cleaning yourself. You do have to leave the flat in a reasonable state when you move out as well! A set amount of furniture is provided in each room. You get * a bed * a wardrobe * a desk * a desk chair * an ‘easy’ chair You will probably have a wash basin in your room and a
bedside cabinet. But Housing Services like to keep you guessing. **Things to bring** I have included a list of things that you might want to bring with you or get when you move into your flat. Some are essential, some not so. They are in no particular order and I won’t cry if you ignore them, but they might be helpful. *Bedlinen and towels, 2 sets of each is nice as a whole term with the same sheets is rather scabby *Crockery, cutlery and other cooking implements - bring plates, knives and forks, mugs and glasses etc and more than one because you will probably cook for friends or break something, or your clumsy housemate will break something - saucepans, one largish and one small - frying pan - baking tray - wooden spoon - grater - can opener - bottle opener (absolute essential!) - oven glove and tea towels - cup measures, if you are into cooking. They are more convenient than scales and can be got from most department stores or Ikea - Cookbook – though most student ones are fairly useless - Food – hopefully your parents will take you shopping. I recommend as well as getting lots of nice food especially chocolate, practical basics such as pasta, tinned tomatos, tomato puree, herbs, rice, and other tinned and dried food as the fridge freezer will be very small. Also get things such as tin foil, cling film, freezer bags, boring but handy. *Kettle along with tea and/ or coffee and maybe biscuits? *Toaster or sandwich toaster (a-true-ben’s opinion on sandwich toasters is well worth reading) *At least one poster as the bare walls are institution like. There are lots of poster sales at the student’s union. Don’t forget the blu-tac! *plants because they are nice and brighten up rooms *Desklamp *Passport photos – universities like to build up large collections of passport photos. Also handy for buying your railcard or coac
hcard * Official documents such as birth certificate, letter from your Local Education Authority or Student Loans may come in handy with the bank *Photos of friends and family to cheer you up *TV and TV licence. A licence is essential, not least because it’s illegal not to have one, but because student houses are often targeted by the enforcement/ detection people. You are meant to have one licence per tv in a self catering flat but you may want to share the cost. If you are buying one yourself, direct debit is the best way to afford it. *Clothes hangers *Radiator rack (hangs on radiator allowing you to dry more washing in one go, ingenious!) *Laundry bag (better than having lots of smelly clothes lying around your room) *Washing powder – it’s incredibly expensive you know! *Iron, one is provided but it will do something horrible to your clothes Well those are all the things I can think of and I sure you are responsible enough to think of clothes, stereos and so on. Wherever you end up though, even if it’s not your first choice, enjoy your first year at university. Do a reasonable amount of work, but most of all enjoy yourself! Might see you in Bar One?
During my first year at Sheffield University I found myself living at Ranmoor House, the largest of Sheffield's halls of residence. Here is my review... The building and rooms: the building is an enormous 1960's brick monstrosity set in spacious grounds. It consists of large blocks, each one affectionately known by a letter (i was in cell block G). Students live in corridors of about 15 people. There is a ceaselessly undying rumour that the hall was built along the plans of a swedish women's open prison, but I digress. The rooms are pokey to say the least, but they do have basins in them for your washing pleasure. One annoyance is that the heating is not adjustable and is not turned off until around may. You'll be very warm. The communal kitchens are well serviced with a microwave, double hob and a fridge (into which no food will be put as it will be instantly stolen. The food: One word...awful. Sample delight "thai meatless balls(!)". Fridays good, though : fish and chips day (yay!). The Bar : cheap, well fitted out, serves food. Nice! Amenities : pool tables. TV rooms good, but will try your patience when you find that in each of all 5 different rooms is one person watching star trek on their own (this happened every week). 24 hour shop and supermarket nearby in downtown broomhill. Well served by the number 60 bus into town. Atmosphere...its a bit too big, I found that other smaller halls friends were at seemed better Security : pretty good. Swipe card system is annoying if you lose your card, can't get in at 3 in the morning and have to wake people up. To summarise : good for amenities and bar. Bad for food and confort of rooms. Atmosphere a bit institutional really. Recommendation : not bad if your their for a year, but a longer sentance would be inhumane