Roar writer Sam Light talks about university influencers and how their portrayal of student life in a lot of cases diverts from the reality of it.
How many times it possible to watch a tour of the same room? The sad truth of student accommodation is that the dorms we pay so much for are copied and pasted identically across the country. We politely feign some interest in the monotonous home design choices of our friends. Yet, surely, the repetitive Pinterest edits university YouTubers show off in their places cannot help but seem faintly sad in light of this. Each vlog showing off rooms with identical dimensions, perhaps with a different coloured feature wall if you are lucky. Bold Ikea bed throws, and wall hangings do not come across as bold expressions of individuality, rather, they look like cries for help.
Halls can be an isolating experience precisely because of how difficult it is to make an imprint on the place you are meant to be calling home for the year. Too often, student accommodations can feel like an overpriced, low-quality hotel without room service – not a place to live. To imply that a couple of fairy lights and a cactus really make these capsules we get dumped in feel ‘cute’ and ‘cosy’ is delusional – although perhaps I am being a little hyperbolic.
King’s doesn’t need any more help extorting rent money from students. Armies of would-be YouTube celebrities fabricating an idealised version of life in accommodation is perhaps worse than unnecessary. The truth is, for a lot of people, settling into life at university, especially in London, can take time. The first weeks can be isolating and stressful. By selling high school students some abstracted ideal of ‘uni life’ we do not present the reality: that adapting to university and life away from home can be hard. Should people not know what they’re getting themselves into before they enrol?
Instead, these vlogs help plant the seeds of doubt upon arrival. Students start to think: “It might be my fault that I don’t feel at home in my £250 a week prison cell” and “I might be weird because I don’t seem to have an infinite supply of friends to go on study breaks and grab lunch with.”
I’m not saying that life as a student is all doom and gloom, but it’s also probably more of a mess than what is shown in ‘day in the life’ videos. You probably didn’t eat a prosciutto and sun-dried tomato salad that you prepared the night before. You ate a Tesco meal deal while watching a video on your phone of someone eating proper food.
King’s is great a lot of the time, and so is living in London. However, I can’t help but not believe you if you say there haven’t been parts of your time here that are miserable. A lot of people genuinely look to university vloggers for an idea of what they can expect from university. What you can expect are ups and downs. Life does not purely consist of pre-prepared muesli bowls, cappuccinos with friends and coming home to an immaculately tidy room with a bed you remembered to make before you left in the morning.
Picking on these details is partly just a product of my own grouchiness, but it’s also the details that make the day-to-day. Living away from home is probably more effort than you think. Making new friends is not always straight forward. Working is normally a drag.
Having no money is not an edgy lifestyle choice – it is a reality for some people.
I don’t want to come across as though I’m picking on university vlogging channels (although I am a bit). But maybe it would be good if a voice existed online which talked about the routine of student life without sanitising the whole experience.