How to Survive Uni Halls
Your New Flatmates
Your first arrival at your new home away from home is your first chance to give a good impression to the people you will be living with for the next year. First impressions are important, but they aren't as defining as you might assume, so don't worry too much about how to act on your first day. Just be yourself!
That said, there are a few things you can do which might make befriending your flatmates a little easier:
- Go out and meet them! When you first arrive, it's tempting to hide away in your room to unpack or hug your parents - and to be honest, that's what a lot of people do. But now is the perfect time to get to know your flatmates. Gather up the courage to venture out of your room and knock on someone else's door to say hello, or head to the kitchen to see if there's anyone hanging around in there. Introduce yourself, ask them what course they're studying, smile!
- Remember - everyone is in the same boat. Every one of your flatmates will be wanting the same thing - to make friends with everyone else. Even if they were the most popular at school, here they probably don't know anyone at all. Don't be shy about going up to them, because secretly, they're hoping you'll say hello.
- Keep your door open. Only when you're actually in the flat of course. If your door is open, people are more likely to feel able to knock and say hello, or invite you to come with them to that Freshers event. So bring a doorstop - halls doors tend to be fire doors and won't stay open on their own - and leave your door ajar to facilitate socialising. You don't have to do this for all eternity if the idea of socialising 24/7 isn't your cup of tea - it's okay to shut the door sometimes for a little alone time.
What if I don't like my flatmates?
Maybe you've tried all these things, but for some reason those friendships you were promised never really formed. Maybe your flatmates are mean, or maybe you just don't have anything in common. That's okay. You can't get on with everyone. Don't give up straight away - sometimes people can surprise you, so give it a few weeks for everyone to settle down. Then, if it really isn't working, don't worry! Focus on making friends with people on your course or in uni clubs instead. You don't have to be BFFs with your flatmates.
There are a lot of articles about how you don't want to be the flat hermit, the one who rarely leaves their room, but if you really don't click with your flatmates, don't feel as if you have to force yourself to hang out with them just to avoid that label. At university, people honestly won't care. Just do whatever makes you comfortable.
Brightening Your Room
Your room in halls will function as more than just your bedroom for the next few months. It will also be your study area, your living room, and your dining room (you won't always want to eat in the kitchen), all rolled into one. Your room will be your safe haven from the world, one of the few places you can call entirely your own.
Your room will probably be the about the size of a matchbox, and the walls may or maybe not be a hideous shade of green. It will probably look a bit sad when you first move in. But with a little effort, you can turn it into a nice place to be.
- Photos - at some point, you're probably going to feel a little homesick. Photographs of friends and family on your noticeboard or walls can combat this, and also give you something nice to look at when you're stuck in your room trying to write a boring essay. As time goes on, you can add pictures of your new uni friends too!
- Posters - you probably have some posters up on your bedroom walls at home. Bring them with you and stick them up in halls. It makes your room feel more like yours, and if you invite someone over, you might find yourselves bonding over a shared interest.
- Fairy lights - it's well known that students love their fairy lights! They're cute and provide a little atmospheric lighting that the nasty yellow overhead lamp really can't. Plus, they're cheap. You can get even them from Poundland. Personally, I own three sets which are strung up around my room.
- Plants - well, maybe not multiple, you don't want too much responsibility, right? But a small, easy to look after plant can go a long way towards making your room more homely. A good choice would be what is called a 'succulent plant' (or a fat plant, which is a much cooler name IMO) like a cactus. These are hardy plants that don't require much maintenance - just sunlight and a little water now and then. They're pretty hard to kill.
- A nice duvet cover - the bed is the centrepiece of the room, so having nice bed covers can really improve the look of your room.
Please note: most halls don't like you to use blu tack on the walls. But don't despair. Your room will most likely come with a noticeboard, so if you bring some pins with you, you can stick some things up there. You could also use white tack, as it's less likely to stain, or sellotape, to stick things up elsewhere. Make sure you check your halls rules though!
Keepin' it Clean
Yeah, I know, housework = boring. But now you're not living at home, it's your responsibility to keep your flat from becoming a pigsty. So it might be a good idea to:
- Hoover occasionally - when I first moved into halls, I decided I would hoover once a week. As commitments piled up though, this quickly fell by the wayside. But do remember to hoover your room sometimes, even if it's just to remind you what colour the carpet as originally. Your flat will likely come with a hoover, so no excuses!
- Clean the bathroom - you might have an ensuite, or you might be sharing with the flat. Either way, the bathroom won't clean itself...unless you're lucky enough to have cleaners. Keep cleaning equipment handy, and try to clean it once a week.*
- Do the dishes - try to do them soon after you've finished eating, and try not to leave empty plates hanging around in your room for too long. Don't wait for the sink to be so full your leaving plates around the sink. Also, dry them and put them away afterwards. It takes seconds and prevents passive aggressive notes from flatmates because they couldn't fit their bowl on the drying rack.
*Please wear gloves when you use cleaning fluids like bleach etc. Otherwise, you will get it on your hands, and It Will Hurt (taken from experience)
It will (occasionally) be loud
What are students known for? Going out and partying. What does that create? Noise. You might not want to go out every night. Others might. Bring some earplugs (cheap ones from Boots will do) for those times when there's a banging party next door and you have a lecture at 9am.
Learn to Cook
Unless you've in catered halls, you'll need to know how to feed yourself. Make sure you know at least a couple of simple recipes before you arrive, even if it's just pasta or beans on toast. Ready meals and Pot Noodle are all well and good, but you could end up with scurvy if you don't occasionally eat a vegetable.
Follow these tips, and hopefully your time in university accommodation will be less stressful. Good luck!