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Grace Abroad: UK university housing options

At universities in both the U.S. and the U.K., students are required to stay in on-campus accommodation for a set amount of time. Whether it is for a year or two, there are many advantages and disadvantages that Ohio University and Swansea University share in terms of housing.

Five weeks into my study abroad experience, here is everything I’ve noticed with accommodations:

Communal housing spaces are used more

In Swansea, all dormitories have a shared kitchen on each floor for students to share. In Athens, most dorms do not have kitchens and those that do go unused. Now, when I make lunch or dinner, I usually do it at the same time as two or three other people on my floor. While it is annoying at times, I’ve grown used to it, and surprisingly, it has helped me meet more of the people on my floor.

A major downside to having a shared fridge and freezer is that they often become overcrowded. I’ve also had much of my food moved around to new areas in the kitchen without my permission. The area can also get extremely messy. I’ve grown used to cleaning the kitchen area when using it and storing more of my kitchen items in my own room to avoid anything being stolen.

Limited housing options, bus paths for students

Unlike OU, which has 41 residence halls on campus, Swansea only has 27 residence halls to choose from. This makes housing options more limited for international students and makes transportation extremely hard to get from the university’s two main campuses: Singleton and Bay. 

With Bay Campus being about an hour-long bus ride from Singleton Campus, students on this campus have to carve out more time in their days to get to class events and even just to hang out with friends on time because of this disadvantage. Only two student buses go to Singleton, making bus paths to this campus less frequent.


For on-campus living, Swansea University accommodation fees are much different than other universities in the U.S. For example, Swansea students with a twin en-suite on Bay Campus, much like a standard double room in Athens, pay £5,838 or $7,411.72 per semester. Meanwhile, a standard double in Athens is $3,952 per semester, making OU’s campus living more affordable. 

Another downside to living in Swansea is that the university has no dining halls for students, even though the school offers pre-paid dining for students who live in certain dorms. However, meal plans can only be used for student dining on campus, like Tortilla or Greggs, with Swansea not offering much more than those two places for food on campus. 

This has made buying food and drinks more expensive, as I either have to go off-campus for these things or buy at least one of my meals for lunch or dinner. I never thought I’d say this, but this part of my study abroad experience makes me crave the dining halls back in Athens.

Floormates are way nicer in the U.K.

Almost every day, one of my floormates takes the time out of their day to talk to me. This is not something I experienced much in my dorm days back in the U.S., and it makes the atmosphere friendlier and welcoming for international students. Students at Swansea seem more concerned with others’ well-being, especially after a long day of classes. 

In the communal areas I share, I find myself talking to many of my floormates while I make meals or am running to grab a snack, and it has allowed me to make more friends.


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