University Decisions: Home or Away?

Student walking infront of Kings College building in Cambridge
Jacob Edwards

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you had chosen to stay in your hometown for university? What about if Nottingham was already your hometown pre-university? Have you contemplated a life further afield, with the capacity to flourish like a butterfly without the help of parents or carers? There are pros and cons for both choices, but hopefully this quick overview will reinforce that whichever decision you made or will make is the right one for you.

A friend of mine, Gemma, was adamant on veering away from her home in London for university. A few of the reasons she gave were quite similar to my own for venturing afar, of which the most presiding was a desire for more independence. 

I certainly feel that I am not nearly “mummied” as much since my arrival at uni – though I am still very much a mama’s boy, and phone home on a near-daily basis.

It can be a struggle to balance the day-to-day life activities on top of a degree, but there is something satisfactory about managing it all in the end. 

There are always people to help you with every aspect as well, right down to the employees at the McDonald’s counter for the lazy nights in. The danger of living a constantly-broke life away from home can also add to the fun of it all and the stereotypical student experience.

However, if money is an issue, perhaps you did this already or intend to in the future, this can often save you a pretty penny, particularly on the accommodation side.

microwave meals can go a long way if you believe hard enough

It can also be a great option for postgraduates, considering the already-hefty sum one has to supply to one’s host university. There is some comfort in not having to scrape out all the contents of your pockets and wallets in order to pay for groceries every week. 

On the other hand, this is one of the best loans life has to offer, so it doesn’t hurt to let loose a little on occasion. It was also made aware to me that some may choose to stay home to be carers, or perhaps even simply for love. 

What we do for others always amazes me, and although I would not advise teens who have just been freed from Sixth Form and College to choose universities based on the object of their affections, it could be a nice guidance for those initially uncertain; or for those who have had a well-established relationship throughout undergrad studies, sticking with your partner might give them the strength necessary to continue studying. 

People often also look at league tables to aid themselves, so there is no surprise that London students may see remaining at home as especially fruitful, considering the grades they pump out each year. 

It really can be course-dependent: What does each university have to offer? How are the grades for your specific subject? What is life like generally?

Most choose to live in halls for their first year, and it can be quite the party, but do the dry sausages and sloppy mash really compare to a home-cooked meal? 

It can feel easier to be yourself or reinvent yourself in a whole new city

Having a support system already there for you back home and within arm’s reach certainly has its advantages, but there is a whole world away from home that one can discover and potentially even feel more at home and at peace with. Besides, microwave meals can go a long way if you believe hard enough.

On the topic of feeling more yourself and at home, Nottingham is undoubtedly a queer-friendly university that even offers a safe space in Portland building for everyone in the community to hang out at. 

Life away from home can be a great opportunity to experiment and discover yourself, without your parents interrogating you after every night out.

Luckily, in this day and age, multiculturalism, homosexuality, and everything in between are spoken of far more often so most places should be quite open, but it can feel easier to be yourself or reinvent yourself in a whole new city.

That being said, working alongside your degree seems simpler when at home. Without always having to shop for groceries or be alone in maintaining the household (the little things), it leaves room for your own side hustle, and the money can be saved for all kinds of future endeavours.

It really is dependent on the individual, but as you can see, there are numerous reasons for studying at home or away, and if you are unhappy where you are for some reason, or struggling to decide where to choose next, there are people who will guide you at UoN, and likely people in your life generally. 

Simply put, if you seek more independence, more often than not you should try to expand your horizons at a university in a galaxy far far away, however if you want the comfort of familiar faces and places for whatever reason, or a life under less financial stress, a home university could be the one for you.

Jacob Edwards

Featured image courtesy of Victoria Heath via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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