For many students, going to university will be the first time living away from home and this can often be a daunting process, but this is also the first time you will truly feel freedom! You might be moving into university halls or a house near to campus, either way, you will be living independently and you won’t have to worry about nagging parents or bickering with siblings anymore. But you’re about to join a new family, a family of students all living a very similar experience to yourself.
Living with a group of strangers at university is the perfect way to socialise and meet like-minded people from all walks of life. You’ll get to know your new flatmates sooner than you know and very quickly they will become your family away from home. You will grow together as you go on your journey and you will learn invaluable life skills through living independently that will set you up for life.
That being said, living with a group of strangers is not always easy and once the excitement of moving in and Fresher’s week comes to an end, this is when your real university experience will begin. Whether you get on with your flatmates will have a big impact on your experience and your studies, but as long as you make an effort to stay positive, be friendly and understanding and create an inclusive environment it will be easy to maintain good relationships and have fun.
How To Be The Best Roommate
Talk about your expectations
A great way to make sure you and your flatmates are on the same page is to have an honest and open conversation about your expectations. Putting down some ground rules about cleanliness, social habits, and noise is a healthy way to make sure your new friends know exactly how you like to live and also give you a better understanding of how they like to live. This doesn’t have to be a serious conversation, just a friendly chat where you can come to an agreement. By laying out your expectations and hearing from others, it means you can be more prepared to deal with the daily pressures of living with others and you can be more understanding when an issue arises.
If you don’t talk about these types of things then your housemate will not know that their behaviour is annoying you, or vice versa. It’s important that you make them aware beforehand so they are mindful of how you feel.
Respect each other
The key to a successful house share is mutual respect. As the saying goes, you should always treat others as you would like to be treated in return. This can have a hugely positive impact on how quickly you feel settled into your new home.
If you know that your housemate has to be up for a 9 am lecture, it would be disrespectful to throw a house party until the early hours of the morning. Instead, you should look to move your socialising to a different location which will allow your housemate to sleep and make that lecture. At university, you might be living with lots of people all with varying timetables, schedules and circumstances. If you all make eachother aware of these you can avoid upsetting anyone in the house. It really is the little things that count and they won’t go unnoticed in the long term.
Create a cleaning schedule
A common theme for rising tensions or animosity when sharing a flat is if someone isn’t pulling their weight to keep your shared space clean. We have all been there. We know that this is not exactly fun and there’s much more to the university experience than cleaning, but maintaining a clean and organised space will keep the whole group happy – it will also help with your studies as a tidy house is a tidy mind.
To avoid any disputes over laziness, a great way to make sure everyone chips in is by creating a weekly cleaning schedule. This way, the group knows exactly who is responsible for what each week and each job is shared out equally so that everyone feels as though they are doing their fair share. If someone is reluctant or simply refusing to muck in, it can affect the whole group dynamic which can cause tensions to build. By making a schedule you avoid this and sending the responsible person a gentle reminder can nudge them in the right direction.
Too many cooks spoil the broth
Food really is the best way to bring people closer together and it’s also a great way to learn about each other’s cultures and backgrounds. Having regular cooking nights can help bond the group and it provides an opportunity to discuss what has been going on in each other’s lives. It’s difficult to find time to socialise with your housemates once the university term kicks in due to your varying schedules, having cooking nights once a week can help with this.
However, it’s important to make sure that if one person volunteers to cook for the rest of the group, that you split the bill for the shopping and that you all muck in with laying the table and washing the dishes when you are finished.
It’s important to talk and listen
While your flatmates will be the first people you meet, they may not necessarily be your forever friends and as you start to go to lectures, go on nights out or join clubs and societies, you will quickly have an ever-expanding network. However, it’s important that you find time to talk with your flatmates. Whether that be over a quick cup of tea in the kitchen or a night in front of the TV, you should make yourself available and make an effort to be there for those you share a roof with – and you never know when you might need them as well.
While you might be really enjoying your university experience, others may not and lending an ear and a friendly smile to your housemates is the best way you can help them navigate how they are feeling. Talking and listening to one another is key to maintaining a close bond.
It’s all about having fun
University is not just about studying, it’s about finding yourself and socialising with other people. Having fun should be taken just as seriously as your studies, as it’s the way you will learn about what you like and dislike, who exactly you want to become and who you want to surround yourself with in the future.
To ensure you have a healthy relationship with your housemates, you need to have fun. Whether you go to parties together, cook together or work out together – spending quality time with your housemates is the best way to ensure you keep a relaxed and friendly atmosphere in your house. Some of the best friendships are made with those that you live with. You will get to know them inside out and they will accept you for who you are. It’s important to nurture those friendships as many will become lifelong.