For the new undergraduate students admitted yearly into various programs at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, this is one great moment of their life. To most of them, if not all, this represents the first real opportunity to live away from home.
As they spread their wings and slowly ease into adulthood, they will definitely need a place to stay. While ABU hostels are some of the largest you can find in Nigeria, they are still inadequate considering the large student population of the premier institution hence many undergraduates will have to find alternatives off-campus. And it can be difficult to determine which option is best for you.
Before I go any further, I do want to stress that as a Jambite or freshman in ABU, I strongly urge you to try ABU Hostels at least in your 100 levels, if you can secure a decent bedspace. This is most assuredly the easiest and best way to acclimate/transition to university life. Trust me, the experience is worth it and very important at the initial stage.
For those of you struggling with the decision, here’s a brief breakdown of the positives and negatives of living in ABU hostels or Off-Campus
There’s a lot to be said and touted about living in ABU Hostel. To begin with, your residence hall places you right in the middle of what is vibrant campus life. And you can’t help but feel like a part of the community when you’re living right in the center of it.
Moreover, ABU hostels life translates into easy living. Living on-campus guarantees all sorts of study facilities and amenities will be readily accessible – from the water and electricity to your classrooms and the library.
And the shorter the trip, the more likely you’ll make it there (7 am classes can be rough)! Beyond the quick commute, living on campus also means the school will also provide people to maintain the bathrooms, common rooms, general environment of your hostel, etc.
Furthermore, living in a campus hostel puts you within arm’s reach quite literally of numerous fellow undergrads. Yes, ABU Hostels are a fabulous way to meet people and cement friendships. There’s usually always someone with whom to hang out. And the relationships you establish will inform your University experience as much as your time spent in the classroom or hitting the books.
Of course, ABU Hostel’s life does have its drawbacks. While it’s fantastic that there are so many social options and outlets mere feet away, that also means it can sometimes be a struggle to focus or carve out some quiet time. Indeed, it can be difficult to study cell division while your schoolmates are racing desk chairs in the hallway.
Additionally, space and privacy are often at a premium in ABU hostels. Yes, there’s a good chance you’ll be sharing a modestly sized room with several people. Further, bathrooms are typically communal which means you might find yourself fighting for shower time, etc. And, simply put, it can be hard to escape your peers.
Living off-campus certainly holds some advantages as well! For starters, off-campus apartments will likely afford you more space and more privacy. You might find yourself feeling more comfortable if you’re able to spread out and if you don’t have to share a bathroom with 20 floor-mates. Plus, it’s quite likely that your apartment will be much quieter than the hostel if you don’t have a lousy neighbor(hood), Hence, it’ll probably make a great place to study!
Renting your own apartment or house off-k also allows you to escape the ABU Campus bubble. Your neighbors might be local families, a “responsible” married student or young working professionals. And you may discover that they are a welcome change and more mature than your campus counterparts.
Living off-campus also affords you the opportunity to get a deeper taste of independence and adulthood. You will be running your own (mini) household. Moreover, your apartment won’t have all the rules and regulations dictated by the ABU hall governors and admins.
Depending on where you live off-campus, you might find yourself feeling isolated from your school and your peers. You likely won’t have as many friends residing around the corner or around the block. And, depending on how far away you live, your commute might affect how and when you choose to socialize.
Further, that taste of independence we mentioned above comes with increased demands and responsibilities. It will be up to you to take care of installing amenities such as cable or internet. You’ll have to keep up with all your bill paying. Additionally, it will be your job to clean (not to mention furnish!) your new digs. While we’re sure you have the skills and wherewithal to complete these tasks, don’t forget that they will also eat into your schedule.
WEIGHING THE COST
Another factor to consider is cost. To figure out whether it’s a pro or con (for either option), you’ll have to carefully compare the price an ABU hostel headspace with apartment/house rentals in the surrounding area. Don’t forget – your off-campus expenses will be greater than just your monthly rent. You will also have to calculate utilities (they aren’t always included), cable, transportation, etc.
And, if you don’t think you’ll reside within walking distance of campus or an accessible location, you will need to determine transportation costs (whether for car, public bus, bike, etc.) as well. Of course, depending on where you live off-campus, all of these expenses might still end up being more affordable than the cost of living in the hostel. But you will definitely have to do the math.
Conclusion: Living in ABU hostels or Off-K debate
When it comes to the on-campus or off-campus debate, there’s really no correct answer. As you can clearly see, each option comes with its own set of pros and cons. It’s a decision that truly comes down to individual needs and preferences. And, in the end, even if you come to regret your choice, you can at least bask in the realization that your stay at Ahmadu Bello University is only temporary!