Nearly 1500 students are currently staying at Massey Halls of Residence on the Albany, Manawatū and Wellington campuses. With future plans to expand accommodation in both Albany and Wellington, staying at a hall is a popular option for many first time students. Massive Magazine staff reporters chatted to students utilising university accommodation on all three campuses to find out what it is really like to live in a hall.
First-year Environmental Science student Nathaniel Hamlin has been living in Totara Hall on the Manawatu campus since the beginning of the year.
“I didn’t really want to go into town halls what with all the asbestos around, my parents didn’t want me to live somewhere grotty.”
Hamlin says when he moved in most of the students already knew each other, as the bulk of them were aviation students who had started uni over summer.
“They were very friendly, they dominated the common room a bit. It was great getting to know them though – I’m hoping for some free flights in the future!” he laughs.
“It’s mostly first years in Totara, I can think of maybe one second year.”
Hamlin says the positives of halls life include the people and being right on campus.
“I don’t have to figure out transportation and I get my sleep-ins.
“We also have social sports teams each semester where we get to play a sport, we have indoor football this semester.”
Hamlin says that living in halls in such close proximity to other people means it wasn’t long till he caught the flu.
“Other downsides include getting drunks showing up at 2am sometimes, last time I just got up and yelled at them to shut up and go to sleep.
“People from Matai (another hall) come into our dorm and steal our flag, there’s a bit of rivalry going on there.
“We actually have a tea club in Totara, as in we meet up and drink cups of tea…there’s 30-odd people on the roll and about 20 come to meet ups.”
“I drink more tea than I drink alcohol,” he admits with a laugh.
Hamlin says that overall, he’s happy with the decision to live in a hall.
“To be honest, when I got the flu it really made me wanna move out, that’s just not fun. But everyone in the dorm’s really cool. Some people do keep to themselves, but it’s quite fun to break the introverts a bit, get them to come out of their shell.”
“MC’ing the halls ball was really fun – I was probably the only sober one in the room, cause I had to be. Orientation Week was pretty intense. People went on three-day benders.”
“People want to go out and drink a lot, but I don’t usually give in to the pressure. Got to save up for milk and bread, you know. The essentials.”
Hamlin is on the Bronze meal plan with the dining hall.
“I like to cook but the kitchen in Totara gets pretty messy. If both microwaves are dirty I usually end up cleaning the whole kitchen.
“I’ve unofficially earned the title of kitchen bitch. People use my paper towels all the time and that pisses me off.”
Hamlin says he’d recommend halls life for first year students.
“Move in and find your people and then go on to flat with them in second year.”
“I’m open to staying in Totara and becoming an RA in the future, definitely.”
First year Business student Shannen Frear lives at the Te Ōhanga Village at Massey Albany.
Te Ōhanga has 210 residents in the halls, which are made up of three buildings: Pukeko, Tui and Weka.
She says overall her time in the hall has been a positive experience.
“There are so many good things. Friends, the events, the mental health and social support… Te Ōhanga has really made an effort to make us feel welcome.
“For me personally, I felt like the experience opened up a lot of opportunities, as for example, I got to be this year’s hall’s representative.
“Honestly, I can’t think of anything bad, I have had a really good experience.”
Frear says when she first arrived at the halls there were plenty of icebreaker games and events to keep people busy.
“Then throughout the year we’ve had parties with dress ups and drinking in our social area [Te Rito], where you can go anytime for a game of pool or just to hang.”
In Albany every year residents are remembered for a variety of interesting stories. 2016 was the year of the guy who spewed down Pukeko’s stairs, and last year will be remembered for the people who made a DIY ute spa by unscrewing apartment shower hoses to fill up the pool below.
Frear says her year in the halls is no different.
“We call Tui’s ground floor the “g” floor, who are renowned for not giving a damn and getting up to crazy stuff.
“It has been a year of rowdiness and several broken doors. They’ve just been kicked out actually…so yeah, G floor will definitely be our identifier.”
Frear says despite partying and the sometimes ruckus behaviour, staying in a hall has been surprisingly homely.
“I think it depends on who you are, because I know some people really struggled making a home out of the halls.
“For me though, my wing is like a family, so I definitely feel at home. Then you have the support of the residential advisors which is really nice, too.”
Even the food offered to students staying on Massey’s Albany campus hasn’t been too much of a shock, Frear says.
“I like the food it’s really nice. I have girlfriends at Auckland and Otago University and comparatively we have it so good. The system is really flexible, so if I’m not there for breakfast I can always get lunch or dinner later in the day. It’s up to you how you do it.”
Binge drinking is ingrained in New Zealand student culture, but Frear says anyone who doesn’t enjoy drinking shouldn’t be put off staying in a hall in their first year.
“It was a bit different for me, because I was still 17 when I came to the halls until June of this year.
“So, it was really interesting to watch from a distance and see what going to town was like for people.
“While going out has been a lot of fun since I turned 18, I never felt pressured to do so.
“I think at Massey it depends on your friend group so maybe other people felt it, but with us, we totally respect it if someone isn’t feeling it or has an assignment due or whatever.
“If anything, going out is just a part of our routine on a Thursday, but it never has to be every week.”
Frear says anyone who is interested in staying in a hall should go for it.
“Make the most of it, because there are opportunities and friends to be made. The whole ‘university is what you make it’ thing is really true.
First year commercial music student Sofia Machray lives in The Cube, a residential hall on Taranaki Street close to the Wellington campus.
The cube is one of two halls of residence at Massey Wellington, the newest, Kainga Rua was opened at the beginning of this year.
Both halls sit directly across from each other and are a stone’s throw away from campus.
At the start of this year Machray moved into a five bedroom flat with flatmates she says were equally as shy and anxious as her.
She says it’s crazy to think about this now because the group have come to be such close friends through living together at The Cube.
“The number of friends you make is overwhelming and it's so cool seeing how you develop these relationships over the span of a year.”
“I see some people more as a family now which I would've never expected.”
She says it can sometimes be hard to balance social life with workload when you live in a hall.
But at times she’s also found hall life helped with her uni work too.
“In my flat, I've been put with four other people who take the same course as me which has been so helpful.”
“We all study commercial music and are able to discuss our work when it's hand-in week which is amazing, we are so incredibly lucky to have each other.
“Coming here and not knowing anyone was hard so I feel like if I didn't move into a hall I might only have friends within my music course, which wouldn't be many.
Machray says she has never regretted her decision to stay in a hall.
She says there’s always so many activities on offer like bake offs, movie nights, sports, balls, speed dating and pizza nights.
Despite all the positive experiences at the cube, Machray says it can also sometimes be difficult.
“The worst things would be having to clean up after flatmates, the noise of drunk teenagers coming home at 3am and paying for washing and drying. But hey that's life.”
Her craziest experience this year is the time her flat’s microwave blew up.
“It smoked out our apartment, so the firemen had to come, and everyone had to evacuate the building.
“That was pretty crazy, I still don't understand what happened to this day.”
Machray says she would recommend living in a hall to any first year student.
“I love being surrounded by so many like-minded/creative people that I instantly click with.
“There's always so much happening and so many opportunities to meet new people.”