Late nights, beverage consumption and meeting new friends, followed by early morning lectures, new subjects and a plethora of information, make for the start of a hectic first week. For many this first orientation week seems an important ritual; a rite of passage on the journey to adulthood.

This year I play the part of an observer, putting my studies in anthropology to use. Eager students congregate in the student courtyard, waiting patiently for the Victoria University of Wellington Student’s Association (VUWSA) pack which will sustain this generation of first year “freshers” – a diary, a map, a collection of pens and pamphlets, and a packet of mie goreng noodles.

Whether studying from home, settling into a University Hall of Residence or starting up a student flat, this year will provide fresh challenges as they navigate their new-found independence.

This year I too foray further into the adult world: my very first flat. Preparing to leave the comfort of my childhood home, I am not daunted by the thought of living with five fellow youths. The prospect of a larger bedroom seems inviting.

A well-situated flat, with natural light, good heating, within walking distance of the both the university and Kelburn village – I am luckier than most when it comes to first time student digs.

For those more experienced readers, call to mind your own first flat – cold and damp? Poorly insulated with difficult landlords? The ultimate choice – the luxury of warmth, or to splurge on light for study. And for the longest of times, such conditions have been normalised. Yet another student rite of passage.

However, I am pleased to see students are no longer prepared to accept such conditions, and to risk their health in inadequate homes. This year’s VUWSA Executive has submitted further amendments to the government’s proposed Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill: an attempt to enhance the Residential Tenancies Act of 1986, thus improving rental standards and tenancy services.

VUWSA’s oral submission and recommendations will go a long way to improving student living standards should they be incorporated into the Bill. The recent increase of tertiary students seeking accommodation within Wellington, which has left many Halls of Residence ill-equipped to meet demands, forcing many students into shared rooms, highlights the importance of comfortable lodgings.

While I have many lessons to learn – resolving flat conflicts, and learning to cope without the comfort of feline friends – I’m glad I will be able to learn in a flat which is safe, healthy, and ultimately, happy. Shout out to my flatting family and lovely landlords – because I promised!

Source: Wairarapa Times Age

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