In my first year I was terrified about the idea of moving into shared accommodation. I couldn’t seem to let go of the irrational certainty in my head that told me I would be living with tyrants or your stereotypical villains from fiction. I was sure my flatmates and I would be so different that it would be near impossible for us to coexist in a civil manner.
Of course, this wasn’t the case!
When I first approached this blog title I had in mind writing a piece on how best to ‘survive‘ in shared accommodation but now that I’m at the keyboard, that just wouldn’t do it justice. It shouldn’t be about just getting through. There are so many amazing opportunities when your living in an all-student house so I really want to try and highlight them and hope you can relate.
First off, don’t forget to enjoy your freedom. Moving into student accommodation at university is likely the first time you’ll be away from home and that affords you lots of opportunities.
What’s for dinner? That’s up to you. What time are you getting up? That’s up to you. What are you going to do with your free time between lectures? Surprise, surprise, that’s up to you too!
This may all make it seem rather daunting but what’s great about sharing your accommodation is that you’re all going to be in similar situations and you can ramble through it together. I can speak from first hand experience in this area.
There were plenty of times in first year (and second and third for that matter) when I needed to ask for help but there were also plenty of times when I felt I could repay the favour. Your flatmates can easily become your greatest allies in the battle that is growing up and learning to look after yourself.
The thing I would suggest above all others though is taking the time to get to know your flatmates. If you have a better understanding of each other it becomes a lot easier to be considerate of one another and being in shared accommodation, this is vitally important.
I quickly found I had learnt when the good times to cook would be, when people could be ambushed for conversation and when we each just needed our own space. Just by spending time with your flatmates, you’ll come to know each other and it will make the whole experience that much smoother.
In this regard, I find that I am always trying to sneak around the house in the morning if I’m up early for a run so as not to wake anyone else. I was also really worried that I would get complaints about playing my guitar too loudly in my room so I spent first year trying to play as quietly as possible. I should have spoken to my flatmates though because they’ve said they really don’t mind.
It was one of the many ways that I came to learn that conversation is key!
We’re all at uni to study but that can’t be all we do for three or four years so when you’re living with others in shared accommodation don’t forget to have a good time with your flatmates. This can mean anything from quiet nights in to big trips out.
House meals, movie nights, game nights, dinner trips or just going out for a walk to get away from it all for a moment have always gone down well in my house. Then, if you get to the point where you really trust your flatmates and think you could survive a bit of friendly rivalry, you could even get out the monopoly board. (Proceed with caution!)
For second year and now in third year too, I have lived with some of my flatmates from first year and we’re all still really good friends. If you’re moving off-campus, things can get more difficult when you have bills to sort out so I would definitely make sure you discuss things before the problems arise.
Having a plan in place that everyone has agreed to can really save friendships. Otherwise, money can tear us all apart. My flatmates and I had conversations about what we each wanted/needed in our new house before we went house hunting, we made sure to discuss how rent would be split and rooms arranged before signing up to our contract and then we’ve done a pretty good job of dividing up chores fairly.
I think it can be easy to just let little tasks get left until someone else comes around to pick up the slack but trust me, it’s the little, seemingly insignificant chores that you do that could make the biggest difference to one of your flatmates.
My final point would just be to make sure that everyone feels welcome and at home in your house. There’s nothing worse than not feeling comfortable when you’re heading home from lectures for the day so I think it is well worth making an effort between you and your housemates to create a ncie common area. This can be a great way to encourage everyone to get more involved and make the most of the experience but it’s also important to remember that in shared accommodation, sometimes you will need some time to yourself and that’s okay too.
I love my course at Warwick even when it’s stressful. I love Leamington and campus and feel so lucky with the location I’m in. But the best thing about being a student ahs been living with my housemates. It has been a new experience but one I wouldn’t change for anything!