One of the great things about university is you get to meet people you might otherwise never have the chance of coming across, with people from all walks of life and locations living in the same student accommodation or taking your course. However, it’s not always easy being thrown together with people from different backgrounds – especially if you live with them.
That’s why I’ve put together some tips on how to cope with your flatmates, so you don’t end up tearing each other’s hair out!
Make a chores rota
From my time at university, I remember the thing that caused most problems with housemates is keeping our home clean. For a lot of students, this is the first time they’ve lived away from home, and, therefore, don’t know much about how to keep a place tidy.
I remember kitchens used to be full of dirty dishes, overflowing laundry baskets and fridges with food well past its sell-by date. The state of your property can quickly fall into disarray, and it can become a depressing place to live if you don’t look after it properly.
Whether you’re good friends with your flatmates or virtual strangers, it’s not easy to tell peers how they should keep tidy – and they often don’t listen when you do. That’s why I recommend starting off on a good foot and establishing a chores rota from the get go. If you do this, you will show your housemates where you stand with regards to mess and uncleanliness, and it will also ensure you all do your fair share of tidying up, without one person left to do all the hard work!
It can be challenging living with other people at times, even if they’re your good friends, as it means they will see you at your worst, as well as your best. That’s why I think it’s important to acknowledge the fact that everyone needs their own space at times, even if you do enjoy being in one another’s company.
For instance, if your flatmate has their door closed, it might be a good idea to leave them alone or knock before you enter. They will appreciate you giving them their privacy and this will encourage them to do the same with you when you want some time alone, are studying hard or are on the phone and don’t want to be disturbed. Having a lack of privacy can be hard to get used to when living in your flatmates’ shoes all the time – so giving people their space when they need it will certainly be appreciated at times.
Having said that, it’s important you don’t turn into a recluse. This is a great opportunity for you to make lifelong friends, and you will have to make the effort to get to know your housemates well. Try to join in if they’re going out or go downstairs if you can hear them chatting in the living room.
You might not always feel like socialising, but putting a small amount of effort in will have its rewards in the long run, as you will feel closer to the people you live with.
Don’t be too sensitive
Being far away from home – especially for international students – can be difficult, as it can feel like you have no one you feel close to nearby. This means you can often feel vulnerable and be sensitive to criticism, fights or people simply being in a bad mood.
Remember that no one’s perfect, and your flat mates will have off days just like you do. It can be hard to accept your friends seemingly being nasty to you, but you need to bear in mind that they might have other issues going on or don’t fancy putting on a smile 24 hours a day. By not being too sensitive to the actions of your housemates, you’ll be able to prevent any tension and reduce the number of arguments that occur – which will be beneficial for all of you!
Get close to your flatmates
By accepting that everyone has bad days, you will learn to read your flatmates moods, and they may feel more comfortable opening up to you as they know you won’t judge them for being standoffish or foul-mouthed. This is often why housemates become your closest friends, as you see each other at your happiest and most vulnerable, and if you can prove you’re a good friend to someone you see all day, every day, you’ll create friendships that will last a lifetime.
Natasha Al-Atassi is a property and student news writer for student accommodation investment brand Vita Student, collating the latest industry news about student property in the UK, the Vita Student brand and information to help students currently at university.