My (Nightmare) Experience with UNITE Students

Life Updates

In March 2016, I received the email I’d waited pretty much 3 years for – the unconditional offer at Reading University, to study English Literature. The only problem that remained was my accommodation. Commuting was out of the question: I was living in the middle of nowhere at the time (South-East England) and did not fancy travelling 2 hours each way, everyday. Unfortunately, by the time I’d received my offer, the accommodation deadline for halls of residence at Reading had come and gone. So my parents and I headed over to the university website, and looked at their recommended list of external, private accommodation options. That’s when we came across Unite Students.

I guess because I was in such a panic to find a place to live during my first year, I didn’t think to look at reviews, as it was recommended by the university. The rent certainly wasn’t cheap either – we assumed for the price we were paying, we wouldn’t need to worry about a thing.

When I first checked in, in September 2016, I was terrified. My mum was terrified. My dad was terrified. The concept of living away from home hadn’t really sunk in until I was standing at that reception desk, filling in the forms. The receptionist ensured both my mum and I that I would be well looked after at Crown House, and so I felt slightly more secure in choosing Unite Students.

Up until January 2017, I had absolutely no issues with Crown House/Unite Student management. The kitchen was kept tidy fortnightly by a cleaner, if there were any maintenance issues, they were resolved literally the next working day. I was happy to be living there. However, unbeknownst to any residents in the building, Crown House was to undergo a major emergency refurbishment, beginning in January, due to “white render” falling down outside the building. There was no warning of this when I moved into the building in September. Now, I’m no builder or contractor, but I’m fairly sure that organising this building work, and bringing in a whole team of builders must have taken months of planning. Which means, Crown House management must have been aware of this PRIOR to the building work beginning in January. I feel cheated of the money my parents had paid for my rent, as we were never told of the major disruption that was about to begin during my residency at Crown House.

The noise was horrendous. I can’t even begin to describe it. They’d start at 8.30am, drilling holes right outside our windows, and they’d finish at 5pm. That’s a whole day of drilling, constantly. Not to mention having men standing right outside my window every morning. A month into the refurbishment, I complained. My friends who came to visit would complain about how bad the noise was, so I knew I was justified in complaining. After a couple of meetings with management, I was given an upgrade to a studio flat on the fifth floor of the building, on the opposite side to where the builders were working. The noise was therefore significantly reduced, and I was finally able to sleep and study again. Considering I had a health condition which meant I needed to be able to rest whenever I was in pain during the day, peace and quiet was absolutely imperative for me. Anyway, I moved into the studio, and I was finally happy.

In May 2017, I received an email that the builders had finished up on that side of the building and so I should move back to my old flat. Now, I understood that the studio flat was a temporary measure, but I received this email the Friday BEFORE my first exam, which was almost laughable. I told them there was no way I was moving right before my first exam, so they gave me a one day extension to leave the studio (also laughable).  To save any hassle and stress during the week when my exams began, I decided to just move in the weekend before my exam, on the Saturday. To my absolute pleasure (please note the heavy sarcasm) I had a new tenant next door to me! Considering I had an exam on the Monday, it was important that I was well-rested. Funnily enough, the Monday exam was one of the hardest of the year. Saturday night saw my charming next door neighbour hosting a party in her room. I figured, since it was a Saturday night, I’d let her make an abundance of horrific noise (including her and her friends singing, screaming and then, eventually, screeching) until just after midnight. Then I really did need to sleep, if I was going to get any last minute revision done on Sunday. 1am approached, and she was still making my ears bleed with noise, so I complained. The security team knocked on her door and told her to keep the noise down. She said “ok” then turned up the volume for a whole other hour before her friends left the flat. I was pissed.

Sunday saw me sleep-deprived, nervous for the following day’s exam and stressed. I’m pretty sure everyone knows by now how badly stress triggers my pain. Anyway, I assumed as it was a Sunday, I’d have no problems with my noisy neighbour and could get up at 6am on Monday morning, ready for my exam, with no issues of sleep deprivation. Oh, how I was wrong. On Sunday night, I was greeted with more screeching, more screaming and howls of laughter that could be heard from OUTSIDE the flat. This time, she wasn’t throwing a party and so I had no real right to complain, or so I thought. In hindsight, I should have complained. By the time I fell asleep, it was well after 3.30am. I needed to be up at 6am. I was a mess. That Monday, the day of my first and hardest exam, I was running on 3 hours sleep and pure adrenaline (and caffeine), all because my new neighbour was an absolute nightmare.

2 weeks passed, and I was getting furthermore frustrated with my new flatmate. I spent all day at the library, simply because she’d wake me up in the morning by having her laptop on full volume and howling at the top of her voice. I kid you not, she would HOWL.

The third week of exam season had approached, and the lack of sleep as a result of my neighbouring flatmate had resulted in my stress levels rocketing through the roof, my sleep deprivation also significantly stressing me out. Then the inevitable happened: I got sick. In fact, I somehow managed to contract a 24 hour flu. I was unable to even get out of bed, let alone revise for the 3 exams I had coming up. My new flatmate had caused me so much distress as a result of disruption, I had to go home with my parents. I spent the next month at home revising, coming back to Reading only to sit my exams, then go back home.

During this time, I informed Crown House management of my situation. I attended multiple meetings, in which I was promised some kind of reasonable outcome. I was told by one of the managers that she would try her absolute hardest to get me some compensation for the one month I spent at home, resulting from my neighbour. All of this was absolutely pointless.

Crown House management brushed my one month of utter distress under the carpet, and told me that “because the new tenant didn’t realise the distress she was causing, the matter is now resolved.” I didn’t receive any compensation. The tenant didn’t even receive a warning.

As soon as Summer Ball was over, I moved out of Crown House. I couldn’t bare to live in that building a minute longer. I told them I’d be looking for a tenant to take up the rest of my tenancy because I could never live there again. Unfortunately, and I should have really seen this coming, they’ve thrown obstacles in my way ever since. I found a tenant willing to take up the rest of my tenancy, only for them to create a “rent issue” with my room, and so they showed him a studio flat INSTEAD. They essentially took my client away from me, so they could get more money.

Overall, I would urge everyone and anyone to NOT live under UNITE students. Their main concern is for themselves and how much money they can squeeze out of a student, not the student at all. They’re unbelievably rude, and do not care for the distress of a student living in their residency. I’ve lost out on 4 month’s rent because they’ve been so difficult, and showed no regard for my suffering when it could easily have been resolved.

I’ve looked at reviews for UNITE students online, and I was horrified at the sheer number of complaints ACROSS THE COUNTRY, by students who were scammed by the company. Please ensure you thoroughly research your accommodation and its reviews before moving in.

Thankfully, I’ll be living on campus next year, and so will never have to deal with them again.

A x

HOW I’M TACKLING MY FINAL ESSAYS!

Original Writing

So it’s creeping up to May, meaning nearly all of us under 21 are preparing for exams or desperately writing essays. I thought today I’d share my tactics on how to ace this stressful period of student life. Although, this might only really apply to fellow English literature students, I hope it provide some sort of helpful advice for everyone.

  1. TIMETABLE!

My mum used to advise me to create a timetable for the months of May to June when I was at high school and college. Studying multiple subjects and having to revise a whole year’s worth of information is hideously challenging, and now that I’m studying one single subject at degree level, I have no idea how I managed to succeed in revising so many subjects in such a short space of time. The best way to combat this: plan out every day’s work until the end of your exam period. It’ll give you a rough idea of what you ought to achieve by the end of the day, and it’ll teach you a great amount of self-discipline. I get incredibly easily distracted, so having a timetable helps me keep on track with what needs to be done. It also forces me to recognise that if I don’t do what I’ve set out to do that day, I’ll have a lot more to do the following day. The idea is to do as much work as your brain will allow, then give it a break.

  1. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK

I’ve done a couple of all-nighters before, and my best friend has done so too; it’s not a wise idea. For one, it’s not healthy to stay up all night studying as your brain is getting worn out and thus, will not be as efficient as in the morning after a good 7 hours (minimum!) sleep. Getting enough rest not only keeps your brain healthy and happy, but you’ll find you’re more determined to work the next day. Next, give yourself little breaks during the day. Now, I don’t mean a 40 minute Netflix session after an hour’s work. 20 minutes or so, to give your brain a break and stretch your legs. You’ll find your brain is refreshed and you can easily pick up where you left off. Finally, have a cut-off point. If I work longer than 6 hours (with breaks), my brain slowly turns to mush and I find revising or working hopeless. My cut off point is usually 5pm, an hour before eating, which gives me plenty of time to unwind and relax.

  1. EAT!

Eating healthy is always a bonus, working or not. It’ll keep your mind raring to go, and healty at the same time. Brain food, I like to call it. A perfect reason to take a 20 minute break. Although, eating for 20 minutes straight isn’t what I’m suggesting.

  1. ORGANISING; PARAGRAPH BY PARAGRAPH

If you are studying a subject where coursework carries a high percentage of your final grade, it might be wise to organise your day paragraph by paragraph. Quite like setting yourself mini deadlines, but deadlines that you can actually achieve.

  1. PLANNING

A lifesaving technique, I’ve found. Planning out an essay with succinct detail, right down to immaculate bullet points has helped me more than I ever imagined. It’s also helped me manage two make-or-break essays spread out over the space of 5 days. I usually plan my essays maximum a week before the due date, and my plans are usually mini, condensed essays. This makes it 100x easier to approach writing an essay; the most daunting aspect of the whole part.

Hopefully this tiny portion of advice might help during exam/coursework season. Good luck, fellow students!

Putting A Stop to Rape and “Rape Culture”

Original Writing

Burqa or naked, rape is unacceptable, and it’s always the victim that suffers for the rest of their life. So a rapist these days will be let off after serving a minimum of half their sentence, yet for the victim, they have to life with a death sentence involving shame and fear. In a recent survey in North Dakota, men were asked if they would consider raping a woman if there were no ramifications afterwards. And one in three men said they would rape a woman if there were no consequences. How shocking is that? They will accept taking a woman’s right to say no, and forcing her to have non-consensual sex simply to satisfy their own needs? Is that how selfish we have become, that we would commit an unlawful and ethical crime to satisfy ourselves, ignoring the emotional and physical (permanent) damage this would inflict on the victim? In what world is it acceptable for a man to rape a woman and feel okay about it? It’s sickening to comprehend that some men in today’s society believe it is perfectly okay to rape a woman, and then condemn her for her outfit choice or suggesting she even “led him on” or was “asking for it.” There is no excuse or justification for forcing someone to have sex. And it makes me question why on earth we are telling women how to dress, as opposed to teaching men NOT to rape and to show some self-restraint when it comes to their sexual desires. I think it’s time we started teaching students that forcing someone to have sex is rape, and there are no two ways about it. No consent is equivalent to rape. It is a criminal act that could lead to your imprisonment. It damages the victim’s physical and psychological welfare permanently. We cannot let people get away with this. It’s time to stop putting the victims in the spotlight, and telling them what they did wrong that caused them to be sexually assaulted and raped. It’s time to stop predators committing these acts of sexual violence.