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Accommodation

and what to expect from living with housemates

It's your first time living away from home. Here are some of the ways you can making living with housemates for the first time a success...

You've been offered a place at Christ Church in September and you've received confirmation of the accommodation you're going to be living in next year. You've been emailed your accommodation arrival time and you're making a 'going to uni' checklist when your aunt asks how you're feeling about living on your own for the first time. And that's when the nerves set in. Will I get on with my housemates? Will I manage on my own without my parents? Will I last a year without setting the accommodation on fire?

We're nipping those worries in the bud before you have any more time to panic with our blog on what to expect living on your own for the first time- and how you can solve any little problems you may experience living with housemates.

 

1) Be open minded when you move in

Your new housemates will be coming from far and wide. They may come from Canterbury, London or Manchester, Europe or from another continent. They could be 19 or 29. They may play football, study sciences or have a different faith to you. Try not to judge or be prejudiced. Give everyone a chance, regardless of whether they're someone you would've traditionally spent time with at school.

Say hello to every person you meet and make an effort to find out something new about each person you talk to. Spend time in the communal living area rather than locking yourself in your room- you'll have much more of a chance of getting to know your housemates this way.

Also, don't panic if you don't gel with your housemates instantly- it may take time for friendships to develop, or it could be that you get along with the students in the flat next door better.

 

2) Help! It's too noisy in here!

Students aren't known for being quiet. You may have housemates who blasts heavy metal at 2am, plays their TV way too loudly, stumbles in after a night out shouting at the top of their voice or set the fire alarm off at 4am after an early morning bacon craving. What can you do about this? Investing in a pair of good quality earphones is a start. If you can still hear the noise after this, a quiet reminder, one to one, for the culprit to turn the noise down may do just the trick.

On the other hand, make sure you don't turn into the housemate who is winding everyone else up! Take your high heels off before you walk into your flat (to avoid clanking), invest in a pair of good quaity headphones if you want to listen to music in the early hours of the morning and if someone asks you to turn your music down, listen to them- you wouldn't like it if it was the other way round.

 

3) How to avoid arguments? Share essentials

Regardless of how many times you remind that one housemate that they are NOT allowed to use your frying pan and you know it was them who drank the last of your milk, it's impossible to stop everyone in the house from "borrowing" from others.

If you know there are things that people are likely to borrow from each other, cut the arguments short and instead designate some items as shared. This could include milk, butter, frying and sauce pans, Fairy liquid, ketchup, cutlery and loo roll. Make a rota outlining who is responsible for buying what and when. Don't let just one person by the milk for the rest of the year- share the responsibility equally.

 

4) Establish a cleaning rota

On the subject of rotas, it could be beneficial to establish a cleaning rota and kindly remind those, ahem, slightly messy residents to stick to it. Rotas are a great way of keeping on track of who is responsbile for what and holding housemates to account if they aren't pulling their weight. Also, if you're in Christ Church accommodation, you'll have a member of Housekeeping pop in regularly to clean the communal areas of your flat- yay! Before they arrive, give the kitchen a tidy, they don't want to find piles of dishes and empty bottles waiting for them to wash up, that's not their job!

Read this blog on making cleaning your uni house manageable. 

 

5) Fire alarms

Don't be surprised if the fire alarm goes off more times than you're used to- burnt food is common and the fire alarms will be a lot more sensitive than your ones at home.

Keep your coat and shoes close by if you generally lounge around the flat in your PJs and remember to open the window if you think there's a risk of the fire alarm going off when you're cooking. Don't get too at ease with fire alarms, though. The first 5 may have been false alarms but the 6th could be the real thing. So read through your fire evacuation instructions, leave your flat immediately, close all doors and congregate in the designated meeting area. 

Want to find out more about fire safety in your accommodation? Read our safety guide here.

 

6) Cooking made easy

It can be tempting to live off Dominos and Deliveroo for your first year of uni. This can get pricey, so before you come to uni, invest in a student cookbook or find five quick, cheap and easy recipes you can cook yourself. When you arrive at university, go to Aldi and stock up on all of the essentials- butter, milk, Marmite, herbs and spices, sauces etc, things you can use all year round, and then only buy the essentials (bread, chicken, vegetables etc) during your weekly foodshops. You could also cook together as a house. It's a great bonding activity, will make cooking less daunting and can reduce food wastage. Turn it into a competition with a 'Come Dine With Me' party, who is the supreme chef in the flat?

The Student Green Office have released a sustainable student cookbook. Have a look at it here

 

7) Don't feel pressured to drink

During the first few weeks of uni, there can be the perception that you have to go out out. Some students will but not all of them. If you don't want to drink during Freshers' Week, don't feel like you need to. You can always say no. You won't be missing out and you can still have a great Freshers' Week on diet cokes and mocktails.

If you do decide to drink, eat well before, drink plenty of water throughout the night and check in with how you're feeling. Everyone has a different tolerance level so don't feel like you need to keep up with everyone else. Take it at your own place and don't be afraid to say no, Freshers' will be awesome regardless. Read our blog on how to have a safe (and fun) night out! 

 

8) House guests

With so many of you sharing one flat, house guests are inevitable, whether they're family, friends from home or uni mates crashing after a night out. One way to be an awesome flatmate and keep your flatmates happy? Let them know if you're planning on having guests.

Check that your housemates are okay with your guests staying, make sure there is actually space for them to stay and run your plans by Security before they actually happen. There are university policies on how long guests can stay for and all guests need to be signed in and out for health and safety reasons.

 

9) Communication is key

Conflicts can arise in accommodation and we can promise you one thing: this is not something you want to resolve over Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger. If there is someone in your flat who is doing your head in, pull them aside and quietly explain the issue. Explain what your issue is, how you feel and what can be done to resolve it. Stay calm and listen to what they have to say.

If it's a bigger issue, gather as a flat and work together to find a solution that everybody is content with. Refrain from gossiping with each other, learn to accept that everyone has a difference of opinions and sometimes you need to pick your battles. For bigger issues like bullying, you can approach Accommodation or Student Support, but it's best to resolve all problems as a flat if you can.

 

10) Remember: everyone is on the same page!

Everybody in your flat is probably new to university, so you're all in the same boat. Chances are the person in the room next door is feeling just as nervous as you. Share your fears and hopes, take time to get to know and spend time with your housemates, maintain an open dialogue, practice consideration and communicate, communicate, communicate.

Talk through any troubles you are having and find ways to resolve conflicts peacefully, in person and through compromising. Make an effort to meet people outside your flat, so then if any arguments do happen, you can go out, get some space, calm down and then come back, ready to resolve any issues.

 

Living with flatmates for the first time can be daunting but it's one you'll absolutely love if you give it the chance.

Have a spare second? Check out the rest of our Freshers' minisite for more useful information and articles.

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