Tips for sharing a kitchen in university accommodation
Recently someone asked me about what it was like to share a kitchen with other students in university accommodation. They were worried about potentially being inconsiderate to their flatmates without realising it.
The advice I gave them was that if you’re concerned about being potentially inconsiderate to others, then you don’t really have to worry. Having that concern is an indicator that you’re already thinking of ways to not be an inconsiderate person, so chances are you won’t be.
But to dive deeper into the topic, there are two main reasons that flatmates might get annoyed: noise and cleanliness.
Being too loud, particularly late at night when people are trying to sleep, is something we’re all likely to be guilty of on occasions, myself included. Walls in student accommodation are likely not overly soundproof, and corridors can echo.
If there’s a party in your flat or one surrounding yours, it’s bound to make noise. This is okay—we’re all allowed to have fun—but they can sometimes go too far, with either too many people there, or if it goes on during your building’s quiet hours (accommodation blocks have hours where there’s supposed to be no noise or else your resident tutor might come knocking). However, this rule isn’t always followed, and in these cases your neighbours may have complaints:
My room was right next to the kitchen, so I got a lot of noise from there. It was particularly bad when I had bronchitis and had completely lost my voice. It was 1am and there was a party and I couldn’t sleep, but I couldn’t even go and tell them to be quiet because I had no voice. It was a pretty horrible night for me.
During the day too, because people study in their rooms it’s best to avoid making loud noise, mainly from instruments. There are music rooms on campus where you can go to avoid disturbing neighbours while you practise.
Keeping the kitchen clean is important too, and when you have a cleaner who regularly comes to clean, it may be easy to be complacent, however if your kitchen is too dirty when they come to clean, it’s a bit rude. I really liked the lady who cleaned my kitchen, and she appreciated that we kept it relatively tidy so that she didn’t have to move piles of dirty dishes.
Doing your washing up on a regular basis prevents clutter on the kitchen sides. There were eight of us in my flat and only one sink and a small draining board, which as you can imagine got filled up very quickly. Washing up your dishes and putting them away swiftly is a good habit to get into.
Cleaning the kitchen surfaces—the table, sides, oven, etc.—after you’ve used them also helps to keep the kitchen in a general state of tidiness.
Also, avoid leaving out-of-date food in the fridge because it can soon become disgusting. I will never forget the smell of five week old solidified milk that had leaked out of my flatmate’s bottle and sat in the bottom of the fridge until my friend (who has a stronger stomach than me) helped to remove it. Ugh, just no, don’t leave your food after it has gone bad, and don’t leave your flatmates to clean it up.
Side note to this, the majority of flats set up a rotor for taking the bins out, so when it’s your turn be sure to do it. Maybe introduce a rule where the bin isn’t allowed to get too full either, since that makes it harder to remove.
Ultimately, getting to share accommodation with new people is an amazing experience and you’ll have the opportunity to make some amazing memories.
For me this included board game nights, baking an endless amount of blueberry sponge cake, watching my flatmate try to cook salmon for the first time and failing, movie nights and study sessions. I may not have formed tight friendships with all of my flatmates, but they were good people to spend time and have fun with.
Here’s a picture of Spud the Snowman, a festive decoration who remained on our kitchen table until he became Spud the Smelly Snowman: