Current student, Jake Avery, shares his perspective on living in catered accommodation.

For my first year at the University of Exeter, I lived in Pennsylvania Court, a catered residence on the East side of campus. Here are some benefits to living in this type of accommodation and why I wanted to apply for catered.

Whilst mealtimes are set within 2 hour periods every day, you have more flexibility throughout each week because you don’t need to constantly go food shopping and walk down town and back multiple times a week. This allows you more time for the other University activities that you enjoy, such as the time spent involved with societies. I would always have a late seminar on a Thursday before Art Society, so catered accommodation allowed me to have a full meal between the two!

Variety in Food
There are a vast array of meal choices, and a great selection of balanced meals. I always enjoyed trying new food in addition to my favourites too; every Tuesday was ‘World Food Day’ whereby the catering team would provide dishes from different countries, such as Tarka dhal and Thai curry! There are also a variety of classic dishes available, such as lasagna and cottage pie. These are all dishes that require a lot of advance preparation and time to cook, so the catering option allows you to really enjoy your favourite foods without giving up any time! There is also always a vegetarian and vegan option every meal, so many dietary requirements are accounted for.

Budgeting and time management
Since catering is factored into the cost that you pay for your accommodation, you won’t need to worry about budgeting for food, or if you will overspend on your weekly meal shop. You’re also saving a lot of time not having to buy ingredients and cook, a factor that greatly helped me during exam season when I needed to make the most of every hour available to me. Having the meals at a set period of time each day also helped me get into a routine. You can also take fresh fruit from the canteen for snacks throughout the day too!

Social life
The canteen is the perfect place to meet new people, make friends and eat great food with other students! Mealtimes were always a great way for me to socialise and enjoy the company of my friends, and it was always nice to try some unique and delicious foods together! There are plenty of tables, small and large, so whatever size your friend group becomes, you’ll always have a communal space to enjoy great meals together – and with none of the washing up to do! It also means that you can use your kitchenette as more of a social space, as it won’t be full of people wrestling over using cooking facilities all the time!

Catered accommodation gives you more flexibility with time as well as ensuring that you’re properly nourished. Whilst cooking is a great skill to learn, you’ll inevitably be doing it in your second and third years, so it’s a treat to be able to have hot meals prepared for you, and also helps adjusting to uni life happen a lot more easily.