For some students, a really big step when starting at university is deciding whether you will be staying in residence. For others who come from another province or country, there is no other option but to move out of the family home for the duration of their studies. Either way, living away from home propels one headfirst on the road to independence.

I interviewed two people on their experience of living at residence while they were studying:

Jonathan Kalombo

Jonathan, 26, studied actuarial science at the University of Cape Town. He explains that he knew immediately that he wanted to live in residence because he would be able to stay on campus late and not have to worry about transport home. No travelling also meant lots more time to study. In addition he loved “the liberty that comes with it. If I had parents that were willing to let me do whatever, I might probably have preferred home a bit more, but I think with the liberty that comes with res and the ability to study a lot more and have more separation from family… that time that you’re on res, you’re easily invested in your studies.”

Besides the clear advantages, he also had some crazy experiences. “I had issues with one of my flat mates, up to a point where we were really not talking for a month on end. I’d get home, I’d greet him and he’d not greet me and it was just tense in the whole house. I’m an extrovert, so I was bringing over a lot of friends and he didn’t have a lot of friends because he was from far away, so he had no one visiting. He hated that I was having so many visitors and he wanted me to agree to not bring anyone into the flat in exchange for him getting rid of his pet cat.”

Jonathan didn’t think that was fair and was mean towards the cat. But all this led to a lot of tension and eventually they had to have the residence warden get involved because the flat mate was making subtle threats towards him.

“One month before the semester ended, I actually moved out because I was like this is not safe anymore.”

Jonathan’s advice to someone moving into residence is: “Try to be open-minded in the sense that people will be different. You will probably end up with someone who is slightly different, but also don’t back down too much as in bend over backwards to make the other person comfortable and if they do something that disturbs you try and correct it early because if you ignore it for a while, like me and my flatmate did, at some point it’s going to be irreparable. Interact with people. Make use of the fact you’re on res, making friends with people on campus and with people on res because if you need anything they will be able to help you out.”

Lianda Dadlana

Lianda Dadlana is 25 years old and studied journalism at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). Lianda explains that she didn’t really have a choice when it came to staying on residence because the very first course that she studied, which was food and beverage management, had odd working hours and it would be difficult to get home at night.

Lianda admits that there was another reason that she wanted to live on campus: “Another part was obviously the freedom that I was going to experience. Growing up I had strict parents and I just wanted to fully experience university life. I wanted to experience living alone.”

She relates that early on in her campus mates’ acquaintance they had been getting ready for the freshers party for first years. However, they ran late and missed the bus. So Lianda, her friends and two other guys had their own party. She excitedly explains that the party was so much fun, and she had the best time.

“We got along so well, and those people are still my friends to this day. That is still one of the peak moments that we remember about res life, and we became really close friends with the guys and the girls.”

Lianda’s advice for anyone moving to res: “Truly live in the moment; you only have that experience once. Meet people, make friends because those friends are going to be the ones that help you through tough times. Make sure that you always have food, there’s nothing worse than being hungry and being far away from home!”


Read more here on how to create relationships in university.

Tell us: Would you consider living on residence? Why or why not?