Finding accommodation at the University was always going to be a problem; I was told two months before the course had begun that it was full-up. So it was quite a surprise to learn that there was one room left in Ty Beck, the 'poshest' halls of residence. There was a catch though; well, two catches really: it was a small room, and I couldn't see it before I signed the contract. Not one to make impulsive decisions, I hesitated. And tried to buy time. “How small?” I asked, followed by “can I see a photo at least?” The lady smiled kindly and then said No firmly. There were two people in line behind me, supposedly for the same room in question, so I was faced with a curiously tricky dilemma. I could sign for the room and move into what might well turn out to be a medium sized cupboard, or I could refuse, spend the rest of the month walking in and out of private accommodation, and feel like a prize idiot.
So I signed.
Any relief I felt at this uncharacteristic display of decisiveness quickly evaporated when I reached the accommodation office to pick up my keys. “Ah, Mr Jacob” said the caretaker, who seemed incredulous that I had not just agreed to take the room but actually seemed quite pleased with myself for doing so. “You do know it's small, don't you?” I gulped. I hadn't even been 24 hours in this place, and I was already being scammed. By the Welsh. With a binding 12 month contract to boot. “Well, it's liveable,” he offered helpfully, “as long as you hang from the ceiling.” I smiled weakly, the humour completely lost on me.
As it turns out, the Welsh are great at Exaggeration. And Reverse-Psychology. So there I was, completely resigned to the possibility that I'd be spending the next one year sleeping upright, so that when I finally walked into Room 1.1, I couldn't help but laugh. It was a beautiful, well-equipped little room. There was a table, a wardrobe, two sets of shelves and a sink. And a poster above the almost-double bed that said simply- 'Welcome to Swansea.'