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Catered accomodation and OCD Watch

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    So I have been trying to decide whether or not to accept my accomodation offer at my university for a catered hall of residence room. It is close to the academic building I will spend most of my time in and it has a mirror and sink in the room which is a major bonus - however it will involve me eating with others at set times. This is an issue as I have unusual eating habits as a result of my OCD such as my treatment of food before consumption and use of cutlery (Must be used in a certain way, must be cleaned in certain ways etc... ). Further I do not like eating in front of others due to certain obsessions. I am also extremely introverted and suffer from Social Anxiety.

    So basically I have a whole bunch of factors that really make catered seem like a poor idea. Unfortunately by the time I applied for accomodation I had no choice but to go catered due to the available options and my financial situation. Though catered would save me a large amount of time particularly in the preparation of food and the accompanying obsessions/compulsions. I will still worry about the food served in the cafeteria but it's easier to ignore when I'm not the one preparing the food.

    I am wondering if I should contact my university (Nottingham University) about this (To which I will probably be placed on a waiting list for self-catered) or simply go with the catered accommodation and deal with things as they come? After all avoidance is rarely the answer.

    Any replies would be greatly appreciated, particularly from anyone who has had OCD or the like and has spent time in catered halls.
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    Hello MJyoung,

    It sounds like a tricky decision. I have severe OCD and I found living in catered accommodation in first year was better than living in flats in subsequent years. I'm not sure what 'type' of OCD you have but I imagine your compulsions prior to eating might take less time to complete than those you'd have to do if you were cooking as well?

    I guess there are a few things to consider:

    Are your compulsions very obvious when you eat?
    Do you think you would find it difficult to talk at all due to your social anxiety?
    Can you afford self-catered accommodation?
    Would you struggle more to buy and cook your own food in a student kitchen or to eat in halls?
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    Contact the uni and ask if they can offer you a place in self-catered if a place does come up. Some students may drop out within the first few weeks or so.
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    (Original post by rose-star)
    Hello MJyoung,

    It sounds like a tricky decision. I have severe OCD and I found living in catered accommodation in first year was better than living in flats in subsequent years. I'm not sure what 'type' of OCD you have but I imagine your compulsions prior to eating might take less time to complete than those you'd have to do if you were cooking as well?

    I guess there are a few things to consider:

    Are your compulsions very obvious when you eat?
    Do you think you would find it difficult to talk at all due to your social anxiety?
    Can you afford self-catered accommodation?
    Would you struggle more to buy and cook your own food in a student kitchen or to eat in halls?
    Thanks for the reply. Cooking is a nightmare. Even preparing a simple lunch such as packet noodles or a sandwich can take over half an hour, I can't imagine how long it would take me to prepare full cooked meals on a regular basis. My compulsions before eating can be somewhat disturbing. If I were to eat meat for example I would need to check it thoroughly to make sure it was properly cooked, this typically involves me checking each piece of meat (usually a small strip) before actually consuming it. I can't imagine this is a nice thing to watch and it does leave my food rather messy ha-ha. I would also need to check my cutlery as well, wiping it down etc... Which may come across as bizarre to onlookers.

    Regarding my social anxiety, it really depends on the group/table make-up. I have learnt to manage my anxiety well and can talk/communicate in most situations but will almost never make the first move. I'm more likely to sit in silence than join a conversation of my own free will. If someone does strike up a conversation with me I will try to be sociable however.

    Self-catered at Nottingham is completely full beyond studio flats which while in many ways are a good option for me are way out of my budget. Further I don't like the fact that they would make it very easy for me to hide away and thus not socialise. A single catered room also works out cheaper as while it is more expensive than a single self-catered (4300 v.s. 4700) it includes the cost of food within that.

    (Original post by OU Student)
    Contact the uni and ask if they can offer you a place in self-catered if a place does come up. Some students may drop out within the first few weeks or so.
    I had thought about that but I am worried I might get locked into my catered contract if I accept the offer in the meantime. The license agreement I have does not make clear the terms of agreement in the case that I want to transfer once term has started. I suppose I could call them before accepting to clear that up.
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    If you decide that you can't live in caterer accommodation the university is obliged to provide you with non-catered as you have a disability and not giving you the right accommodation is discriminatory.
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    (Original post by SmallTownGirl)
    If you decide that you can't live in caterer accommodation the university is obliged to provide you with non-catered as you have a disability and not giving you the right accommodation is discriminatory.
    But if self-catered is full, there's nothing they can do.

    I had similar - I needed accommodation close to uni and I was offered something 3 miles away, which would take forever on public transport. I signed the contract and contacted the accommodation service and disabled students service and they were able to offer me something much closer.
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    (Original post by MJYoung)
    Thanks for the reply. Cooking is a nightmare. Even preparing a simple lunch such as packet noodles or a sandwich can take over half an hour, I can't imagine how long it would take me to prepare full cooked meals on a regular basis. My compulsions before eating can be somewhat disturbing. If I were to eat meat for example I would need to check it thoroughly to make sure it was properly cooked, this typically involves me checking each piece of meat (usually a small strip) before actually consuming it. I can't imagine this is a nice thing to watch and it does leave my food rather messy ha-ha. I would also need to check my cutlery as well, wiping it down etc... Which may come across as bizarre to onlookers.

    Regarding my social anxiety, it really depends on the group/table make-up. I have learnt to manage my anxiety well and can talk/communicate in most situations but will almost never make the first move. I'm more likely to sit in silence than join a conversation of my own free will. If someone does strike up a conversation with me I will try to be sociable however.

    Self-catered at Nottingham is completely full beyond studio flats which while in many ways are a good option for me are way out of my budget. Further I don't like the fact that they would make it very easy for me to hide away and thus not socialise. A single catered room also works out cheaper as while it is more expensive than a single self-catered (4300 v.s. 4700) it includes the cost of food within that.



    I had thought about that but I am worried I might get locked into my catered contract if I accept the offer in the meantime. The license agreement I have does not make clear the terms of agreement in the case that I want to transfer once term has started. I suppose I could call them before accepting to clear that up.
    Are you receiving treatment for your OCD/will you be when you go to study? I know it will sound very daunting but if you do end up going catered it may help you deal with your OCD as it will be a form of exposure. However, depending on how severe your OCD is this could be a bad idea, you need to consider whether you can deal with the stresses of being catered for. You want to choose whatever will be most beneficial to your mental health and this means weighing up the effects on you that either choice will have. Remember that if you do go self catered your compulsions may worsen as you give in to them. You also mentioned that it takes up a lot of your time performing them, which could have a negative impact on your studies. If you're seeing a counselor or doing CBT you should talk about this with a professional who can help you come to decision. I hope this all works out okay for you and I'm sorry you're having trouble, good luck with uni.:hugs:
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    (Original post by MJYoung)
    Thanks for the reply. Cooking is a nightmare. Even preparing a simple lunch such as packet noodles or a sandwich can take over half an hour, I can't imagine how long it would take me to prepare full cooked meals on a regular basis. My compulsions before eating can be somewhat disturbing. If I were to eat meat for example I would need to check it thoroughly to make sure it was properly cooked, this typically involves me checking each piece of meat (usually a small strip) before actually consuming it. I can't imagine this is a nice thing to watch and it does leave my food rather messy ha-ha. I would also need to check my cutlery as well, wiping it down etc... Which may come across as bizarre to onlookers.

    Regarding my social anxiety, it really depends on the group/table make-up. I have learnt to manage my anxiety well and can talk/communicate in most situations but will almost never make the first move. I'm more likely to sit in silence than join a conversation of my own free will. If someone does strike up a conversation with me I will try to be sociable however.

    Self-catered at Nottingham is completely full beyond studio flats which while in many ways are a good option for me are way out of my budget. Further I don't like the fact that they would make it very easy for me to hide away and thus not socialise. A single catered room also works out cheaper as while it is more expensive than a single self-catered (4300 v.s. 4700) it includes the cost of food within that.



    I had thought about that but I am worried I might get locked into my catered contract if I accept the offer in the meantime. The license agreement I have does not make clear the terms of agreement in the case that I want to transfer once term has started. I suppose I could call them before accepting to clear that up.

    Hey,

    It sounds like you have contamination concerns as part of your OCD? I have that form with others too. I managed okay in halls, I used wipes quite quickly to clean my cutlery, used sanitizer (which my friends did notice and became an ongoing joke but in a nice way) and avoided anything that looked risky and was fine

    You could perhaps choose not to eat meat while in halls (or only eat it at lunch in your own sandwiches) if that is a big problem or you could try to master the art of checking the meat very quickly. I'm sure other people won't mind though. Obviously only you know how obvious or embarrassing your compulsions are so you might see this differently.

    With the social anxiety you do have to socialize in halls but like you say self-catering might give you more opportunity to be cut off from other people and avoidance perpetuates anxiety. That said there were times when I missed meals with my friends due to late lectures and I then couldn't work up the confidence to go for meals alone so it can be a little stressful at times.

    I hope you come to a decision that suits you!

    ps. I agree with 'yepyepyep' that it's really important to seek treatment for your OCD, preferably CBT before you start at university and look into support services at your uni. It might also be a good idea to inform the disability/enablement office of your condition if you have any symptoms that might interfere with your studies.
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    I'm going to Nottingham and I know people who contacted the Uni asking to switch and a lot of people were able to. It's always worth asking whether you can, especially as you have a medical reason for doing so. What hall are you in out of interest?
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    Hey, Just a thought but if you were in self-catered obviously you'd be sharing a flat with other people who wouldn't have the same level of cleanliness as yourself and you may find yourself cleaning up after them and being unable to use the kitchen due to just how dirty it can get when used by people who have a disregard for cleaning up after themselves. Also you don't want to be spending your time cleaning other peoples mess up because that isn't fair on you. At least if eating in catered you know rules will have been followed when cooking your food, and when eating as someone mentioned before you could just wet wipe your knife and fork. Just something to think about. I hope you come to a decision and whatever decision you make it turns out well
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    when I started university I contacted the disability services and as part of the service they should be able to provide you an appropriate room (e.g. own bathroom, self catered as needed), if there are none immediately available there are usually drop outs in the first few weeks and empty rooms become available which you could be top of the list for...

    if you could use this as an opportunity to overcome your OCD habits that would be the best solution, but you don't want to end up in a situation where you can't eat or the stress is preventing you from engaging properly with university life
 
 
 
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