German citizen Soran Marl is a first year Engineering Student This year, having managed to get a space in Merville residence, Marl has found a positive experience in the UCD accomodation. The opportuntiy to live with a combination of international and Irish co-eds also proved to be an interesting added extra.
“I was gob smacked when I saw the prices over here”
“It was nice to have three other people living with you. I was placed with other people from outside of Ireland which is good for intercultural mixing. I live with one guy from Offaly and two guys from Asia. The Asian guys don’t have much English so it’s great for them to be learning it by living with us.”
While campus accommodation is not known for its glamour, Marl adjusted well to the move from the comfort of home into the uniform, utilitarian surroundings of Merville.
“I got lucky because I don’t have to share a room. There are four bedrooms and two bathrooms each with a shower and a toilet. The electricity meter is a great idea as instead of bills we put a pay as you go card in the meter like phone credit. The emersion and the cooker use it up quite quickly though but that’s good in a way because it gets you into the habit of thinking about the electricity and trying to save it. You become less careless about leaving lights on and that kind of thing.”
However, as pleased as Marl was with his accommodation, he found that Merville only catered for the very basic habitation needs. “I didn’t know if I’d be getting cutlery and pots and all that so when I arrived last week there was none of those sort of things. I’ve been living off cornflakes for a week”.
As UCD students will know, it is no easy feat to grab a new home on campus. For Marl, it was a stroke of luck that saw him successfully apply for on-campus accommodation.
“I got my accommodation by accident I think. I was refused initially because I only live in Westmeath. Then a few days later [the Accommodation Office] rang me again and said I got accommodation and I needed to come and pay for it. When I arrived down they looked shocked because they thought I was a female! They had to give me the place in the end because they couldn’t take it back once they’d offered it to me. It was very funny.”
The social opportunities that living in Merville present are clear. Marl feels that living at home with parents does not offer the same chance. “If I had the choice to live with my parents in Dublin, I would still choose campus for my first year. I think it’s a great way to meet people and get into the UCD life”.
“Sports will be a very integral part of my student life. I think it would be very hard to get involved if you weren’t living on campus because the transport system after eleven o’clock isn’t great. If you were training or you had a meeting with your society that was late it would be difficult to get home.”
Often, it is second years who miss out on campus accommodation, with final and first years seemingly being given priority. The prospect of leaving the comfort of campus is a worry for Marl.
“I’ll be disappointed when I have to rent next year because it’s so expensive. When I was in Germany I was renting an apartment and my bedroom was 20 square meters and I was only paying €200 per month for that. I was gob smacked when I saw the prices over here.”
However the payment scheme for campus accommodation in UCD is something which Marl admits could do with ammending.
“I found it a bit strange that you pay for the campus accommodation one semester at a time. You pay upfront per semester but if you decide to leave, none of it is refunded. It doesn’t leave a lot of flexibility and you’re really tied down.”
These high prices and inflexibiltiy are factors which also need to addressed, especially in terms of attracting foreign students to the university. “I think the high prices make it quite difficult to come and study here from abroad because of the price difference.”
Despite its fiscal draw backs, Marl feels that living on campus is “a huge plus” for his college experience. ‘The price is a drawback but I think that’s more to do with the country as opposed to the college so can’t be helped.”