(Original post by aberdeenchick)
As a student who’s just about to finish first year and has lived in 2 different places at Hillhead (Hector and South House) and seen others here's my advice:
- Hector's showers aren't that nice - think old brick floor, that kind of camp site / public swimming baths cubicle style. In comparison, South House showers are a hell of a lot nicer and more modern. We’ve spent many a time pulling pubes out of the showers at Hector from other people because it gets clogged up so easily and the culprit flatmate was seemingly ignorant of the problem.
- Hector has a problem with mould in the kitchen, bedrooms and bathroom mostly around the windows which is why I think they are doing up some rooms over the next year, but I don't think all will be done so expect to possibly have this in your kitchen space. South House doesn't have this problem as it is more modern.
- The rooms at South House are also bigger and the bed I had was also marginally bigger compared to the one at Hector, god's knows why because they were both singles, but my bed sheet fitted fine at SH but was baggy on the matress at HB.
- At South House you have the benefit of having a much better wardrobe which won't fall apart the minute you try to use it (the number of times we've put the damn door back on!) and tiny plastic draws on the inside as you'll have in Hector.
- You also get your own sink at SH in your room.
- In Hector you get ONE shared bathroom between SIX of you, (sink & shower) and two old fashioned toilets separate. At SouthHouse you get one room with bathroom and shower, one separate shower and one separate toilet, again much nicer standard.
- The toilet paper cannot be changed by you at SH! Only by a cleaner (done for you at HB). So if you go to SH which isn't cleaned by the cleaners, you'll spent a few weeks bugging the cleaners for a key (who never have one) and the porters (who say to ask the cleaners) until you finally give up and resort to leaving toilet paper on top of a carrier bag (instead of the floor) which is what we eventually did when we realised we were never going to get the problem fixed. BTW the quality is crap (no pun intended), even fast food restaurants don't subject you to that low quality! (Same for SH/HB) So be prepared to buy your own if you want any skin left!
- This one I cannot stress enough – DO NOT LEAVE YOUR WINDOW OPEN ON THE GROUND FLOOR – opportunist theft it is not merely a rumour put about – two people tried to reach into someone’s bedroom we knew while he had the lights off and was actually in there at the time, and people have been arrested (known thieves to the police) who hang about at halls, so beware. Never, ever leave your window open on the ground floor, even if you go to the bathroom. It’s not something that happens every day, or even every week, so don't fret about people breaking in, but don’t leave yourself vulnerable to it either.
- I highly recommend you rent a fridge, as whether you go to HB or SH it's the same situation - 6/7 and only one fridge/freezer, like this: http://www.discountedheating.co.uk/s...1027460395.jpg
So you can imagine how that pans out - half a shelf each, now try cram all your food in there. Not to mention many people just left food in there that had gone out of date and left to rot until the smell was so bad we had to check other people’s shelves / areas to throw out rotten food. So if you can afford it and the space, go for it. You might get good flatmates, but even so, sharing a fridge that size between 6-7 people is a NIGHTMARE. If I’d have known I would have hired one from the start!
- Cupboard wise - we've had a fair bit of theft this year - from two different sets of flatmates, the second far worse than the first. We recently spent a couple of weeks away from the flat and came back to find all the food we'd bought gone - literally, cupboard emptied by the flatmates. And we've had the same problem ALL TERM of people just taking off with whatever they like. Perhaps we were unlucky, but prepare yourself for the possibility that not all people are honest. Ridiculously these people whined they were poor, whilst spending their weekends jetting off all around Europe to see various places and attending £30 a ticket balls etc. whilst we struggled to pay for even food let alone be able to do anything else. I'm not saying that everyone will get this problem, and I don't want to scare people by any means, but be prepared for it
, and perhaps prepare how you would deal with it. Not everyone is polite enough to ask to borrow things unfortunately. The alternative is to keep food in your room (such as cereal, crisps etc.) though that's not ideal.
- If you go with Hector lift up the mattress and then the wood underneath should have a round hole in it – lift up and hey presto! Secret storage area. Took us muppets ages to realise! :’)
- Keystore wayyy overcharges for things, so I wouldn’t bother with it too much. Lidl is nearby but it’s kind of a jumble sale of some food / a lot of sweets / random oddments of household stuff etc. it does have some good offers though and you can buy some things there a lot cheaper than elsewhere. Bear in mind that Asda and Tesco DO deliver to Hillhead, and you might be better off spending the minimum £25 online (just order for a week or two) and getting it delivered that putting up with the hassle of trekking to the next nearest supermarket which is morrisons.
- Bike storage isn’t too good for Hillhead residents, not sure if they are planning to renovate this as part of their plans but I’d recommend you just keep it indoors to be honest. There’s better bike storage / chaining space at the uni than at halls so there should be no problems at the other end with biking to uni. New Carngie have much much better storage for bikes - they have bike cages.
- Un HB/SH related – for the catered halls I’ve heard it’s a bit rubbish choice wise with a lot of chips going around and having seen the rooms the quality is no better than SH (thought I've never lived catered so I can't say for certain about the food, only the rooms). Also you still have to sort your own lunch out and I think there are a lot less meals on weekends so think about. There is the added bonus that catered halls are ON campus so you don’t have to walk – that walk up Seaton Hill is a killer at 8.50am when you’re running late for class!
- If you want somewhere quieter to live, North Court is said to be a good place to stay at Hillhead.
- The Porters are excellent at being helpful – in all the situations I’ve been this year they’ve been brilliant and always friendly too, as are the Student Resident Assistants (SRAs) so don't hesitate to use them if you need to.
- Don’t forget that there are computers and printers available at the central building at Hillhead halls so don’t make the mistake of walking all the way to uni to print something out if you don’t need to!
Finally, my most important piece of advice - though Hector is known as the ghetto for a reason, they are renovating it this year (though I don’t think all at once), and (this is going to sound mum-sy!) keeping the place clean and tidy makes all the difference! It’s far nicer to live in a crap place that’s clean and tidy than one that isn’t. It makes it all the more bearable. Though that’s kind of true of all halls – if you keep it nice and tidy and clean, it’s a 100x nicer to live in wherever you end up. I know some of the stuff I wrote makes halls sound negative but it is only a year and you can request a move if you really hate your flatmates / flat.
If anyone wants me to write on courses/buying books/stuff to do in Aberdeen/travel/studying and so on let me know and I’ll gladly tell you all I can.