Hala lives alone in a studio flat. As a masters student, she enjoys the luxury of having her own kitchen and bathroom. But what she really likes about Bishop Gate is the common space where she feels part of a community.
Hi Hala, tell me about yourself. Is this your first time studying in the UK?
Yes, it’s my first year here. I’m doing a Masters in Business Administration. I previously studied in Amman. I was a Chief Pharmacist there but I wanted to transfer to business or marketing.
What’s it like to live here in Bishop Gate?
Actually, it feels like home. The people here are really helpful and kind. I love everyone like family. In the morning everyone says ‘Good morning. How are you?’.
So you’ve made lots of good friends here?
Yes, I have for sure. It was my birthday recently and they all brought me presents and a cake and we celebrated together. That birthday was the best ever of my life – even though I was away from my home and my family. I didn’t feel homesick because of my friends here from all different cultures.
How did you meet your friends?
I have my own kitchen and I have my own bathroom. So, because I don’t share those facilities with other people, the chance to meet friends in that way is low. But by using the study room, the laundry and the common areas, I’ve met lots of people and good friends. I made most of my friends playing table tennis or billiards. The common facilities are great and really encourage communication between everyone here. There are many fun things that we can share together, for instance we have TV, so we all sit together to watch football games.
Have you been home since you’ve been living here?
Yes, after Christmas for my mother’s birthday.
Did you miss this place at all?
Yes, for sure. I had lots of video calls with my friends here, they were all asking when I would be back. It was really nice.
What do you think of your room here? Does it meet your needs?
Whenever my classmates come here, they all say I have a really big room. You feel comfort. I think it’s such a good room but, to be honest, the unpainted wall was something new and weird for me.
The exposed concrete wall? It’s not your style?
It’s just not common in my country and it was the first time I’d seen anything like it! I thought they hadn’t finished painting it. So I Googled it and found that it’s a modern style. Over time, I’ve got used to it and many people come here and say ‘This room is really modern. Wow! How nice’. I’m now thinking if I build my own home I will do something similar.
Great! How would you sum up your experience here?
Just that I have had such a fantastic time here. I’ve made many friends from overseas: India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and from the UK. I’m really happy here and my accommodation has been critical for that because I feel safe and people take care of you. I think everyone should come here and experience it!