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With its comparatively light meals and collective culture, Otago Polytechnic students are getting an experience at the institution’s only hall of residence not previously offered to them.
Residents are settling into the Otago Polytechnic Student Village, Te Pa Tauira, for its first year of existence.
The facility in Harbour Tce and Union St houses 187 students, with a maximum capacity of 231, and is a mixture of dorm rooms and apartments.
Its main common room was a hive of activity yesterday as students chatted on couches and played pool and table tennis.
Resident Nicole Woollard, from Christchurch, said it had a "really friendly atmosphere".
"It literally feels like a family away from home. There have been lots of activities."
The students have been treated to movie nights, a quiz night, a sports day and a speed meet.
"The events help you get to know people on the floor quite well, and they make it a competition."
The food was "like home cooking", she said.
"You expect really fatty and heavy."
Resident assistant Mhairi Duncan said she had lived at home for the past two years while studying, but her room at the facility was "much bigger".
"It has three windows, a queen bed, desk, an ensuite and a wardrobe."
She moved into the hall because she felt she needed more of a student social life.
"You miss out on that when you stay at home. Also, my friends’ flats were horrible so I didn’t want to move into a flat."
There was great participation in hall events, she said.
"It’s been really good. We’ve held a couple of events, and most students come. Even for movie nights most of them came in with their duvets and stuff, so it’s good to know they actually do want to go to events and things and get to know people."
Most residents were 17 or 18 and in their first year of study.
Alcohol rules forbid glass bottles except for wine, as well as spirits and "goons" (wine bladders).
"We’re just trying to encourage healthy drinking in young adults."
She agreed the three meals a day in the dining room were "amazing".
"The other day we had a roast carved in front of us. It’s quite light food compared to other halls I’ve visited."
Village manager Andy Thompson said the facility provided a "unique community" connected tightly to the polytechnic.
"The construction is mainly wood, which is amazing. Everything in here is built to conserve energy and help the environment."
It would "go the extra mile" with tutoring its students, he said.
"It’s not just an accommodation centre. We’re developing young people as leaders."
Until this year, the polytechnic shared the Caroline Freeman College, previously City College, with the university.