It all began with an awful student flat experience. I thought we were doing quite well until I realised that I hadn’t seen my flatmates for three weeks. It turned out that Jake and Sara had eloped with our rent money, Mercedes had transferred to Southland for a no-fees option and Eric, well he was still there, smoking weed, buried under a metre-high pile of sock-laundry.
When the landlord started banging on the door with four giant gang members demanding the rent, I decided it was time to cut my losses. I took my trusty phone, a sleeping bag and the last pair of clean (ish) socks in the flat, slipped out the back door and got to uni just in time for my first lecture of the day.
After classes, while reading about the closure of a condemned student flat and the subsequent discovery of one Eric Devine who had been reported missing eight days earlier under a pile of festering laundry, I realised I had nowhere to live. Necessity is the mother of invention. Procrastination also is the sleepy dad on the La-Z-Boy that lead me to my rogue community on campus.
I discovered a nice little community in ‘after-hours’ campus life, which costs zero dollars and is relatively comfortable though a little crowded at times. The inhabitants – three students of indeterminate ethnicity or gender, someone I always thought was a groundsman at UC (well played!) and two cats – have been most helpful in ‘showing me the ropes’.
Suffice to say – I now feel qualified to give a list of tips on campus living, literally. I mean, why pay rent when you can be fully resident within a stone’s throw of the lecture you’re going to sleep through, for free?
1: Sleeping. The bean bags in the library are, of course, the prime spot, but you have to be in early as they go fast. A great trick is to hide one on top of the Stats textbook shelves. No-one looks there, and you can sneak back later and move it back to the cosy spot by the heater. Each fortnight, CANTA puts out a handy little magazine which, when stacked ten high, makes a perfectly comfortable pillow, and half a dozen of them, opened out is basically a futon.
2: Getting past security. The best place to hide from security is by spidering up the walls in the little walkways in the Undercroft. As long as you don’t drool, fart or pass any other bodily functions in the couple of hours required to bypass security and the late-night cleaning crew, you should be fine to hop lithely down onto your numbed feet and hobble off to unpack your beanbag.
3: Eating. Take a large paper bag with a supermarket logo and write on it: Food for the homeless. Leave it in the kitchens, and you will glean a nice little daily take of apple cores, instant noodles and half-eaten chocolate bars. One day I got a full pack of chips and a cold pie! This works especially well around Christmas. Play on the housed elite’s guilt.
4: Clothing, stationery and condoms can all be accessed regularly from the ‘Free Tables’ parked around campus. Also a great source of reading material (old textbooks), crockery (saucer ash-trays, plastic forks and chipped glasses) and oversized T-shirts which make great blankets.
So, basically, campus can offer all the comforts of home, so long as you don’t mind cutting a few corners. As they say in the library after-hours, “Tu campus es me castillo”.
Your campus is my castle.
– Nicky Taylor