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My Rhodes!

by Shirley Erasmus

A Guide to Living in Grahamstown

Moving to Grahamstown to study at Rhodes University can be both a challenging and exciting adventure. Adjusting to a new city, finding your way around and meeting new people are all part of the process of settling in. Rhodes University offers both students and parents an opportunity to see the University, the town and to meet many new people during ‘O- Week’.

Moving In

If you have opted for living in residence during your first year at Rhodes University, you’ll soon discover that you have made the best decision!

Living in residence is an amazing experience and you have a chance to meet people who are bound to become your best friends for the next few years. Students moving into a student residence during their first year at University have the chance to take part in serenades (a long held, Rhodes University tradition), residence activities (such as fines and leavers dinners) and have the added awareness of a support structure of their House Warden, student sub-wardens and House Committee to look out for them.

Rhodes University residence rooms vary in size and facilities, as does each residence itself; however each residence room is generally fitted with the following:

  • A bed.
  • A table and chair.
  • A built in or free standing wardrobe.
  • A bedside table.
  • A lamp.
  • A pinboard or whiteboard.
  • A heater.
  • A resnet (internet) connection socket.

The rooms are basic, and certainly no luxury but everything you need is available. I would recommend that you make sure you bring as many home comforts as possible. Bring along your favourite bed sheets and pictures and whatever else will make your room comfortable (remember to look in your residence rule book for things that are not permitted). I have seen everything from bean bags, to blackout curtains, my personal favourite was bringing along my French press!

The Budget

EduConnect provides a number of articles about student budgets (see here and here). It is really important to get a good idea of what you’ll be spending per month while you’re living in Grahamstown. As a student in res, you will have the option of three dining hall catered meals a day. Most dining halls are lovely places to eat, the food is good and generally healthy (depending on your food choices) despite regular complaints you might hear from students living in residence. Residence students have the option of changing their meal bookings online as well as unbooking any meals they may not plan on eating in the dining hall- for which you are paid a certain amount back.

A budget for students in residence can vary from R800.00 a month to around R1500.00 a month. This amount would go towards additional food and activities as well as general personal hygiene products and travel expenses.

Meeting People

For many students, this is not a problem, especially if you and a group of friends have decided to attend the same University. Fortunately, for the introverts among us, there are ways to meet people even if it is not your strongest point!

  • Join in on residence activities and sports! It’s a fun way to get to know the people you’ll be sharing your residence with.
  • Strike up as many conversations as possible! Think about it, its first year, you’re all in the same boat. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know. See something that interests you? Ask about it! You really cannot go wrong with just going about making friends the old school way, “Hi I’m Shirley….”.
  • You don’t have to impress everyone! If drinking all night is not really your forte’, don’t feel obliged to hang around, you will find a group of friends who like the same things that you do!
  • Try things you wouldn’t typically do. Join societies (not just for their free stuff!) and take part in their activities. This is an awesome way to meet new people and explore and discover new interests. Ever considered astronomy? Why not join Astro-soc and see what they have to offer?

Last tips

A few random things to consider:

  • At Rhodes you’ll probably be walking around everywhere, make sure you pack and bring along some seriously good shoes!
  • Parking on campus can be more of a nightmare than having a car is worth. Honestly. Other than the odd trip to Kenton or Port Alfred, having a car is not really necessary at Rhodes and can often make you late for lectures while you drive around looking for parking.
  • A water filter is a great investment at Rhodes. The municipality water does not always taste the best. Unless you plan on buying filtered water every few days, a water filter will save you both time and money.

In a town as tiny as Grahamstown you’ll discover how quickly you learn your way around and get to know people! Enjoy your first year at Rhodes University!

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