The daily life and problems they told me about made the price they were paying seem very high and the whole ordeal like living in a badly run hostel or, at times, a prison colony .
So what did they tell me? Up to 16 people sharing public bathrooms, fire alarms going off in the early hours of the morning, maintenance workers round the clock, sometimes dealing with faulty heating systems and suicide-proof windows that cannot open properly, which is great in the summer when the heating will not turn off. And when I was looking at halls, they somehow failed to show me the old mouldy buildings or ones refurbished so fast they still reeked of paint or point out the lack of common rooms on many floors. And those are just a few examples of the low quality many students pay through their wallets for.
The tight year-long contracts underline the whole nasty feeling of exploitation, especially when you remember that most first year students do not have either a chance to visit the halls before signing or the experience to spot a dodgy offer.
Perhaps, the worst though is the strict security which prevents anything resembling a normal social life, something most students will have expected to look back on as a highlight of their time at university. Instead you are faced with compulsory sign-in for all guests, with proof of identification and an allowance of only three guests per week after 10 pm. And, Big Brother style, there are CCTV cameras everywhere and no feeling of privacy.
I'm therefore now glad I took the risk to go it alone. All the more so after one of my fellow students discovered that the design for most of the halls accommodation are based on blueprints of Swedish prison cells.