Freshers can be hard if you don’t know the rules. The way you establish the dynamics of your flat will haunt you for a year, so make sure you’re prepared – and I’m going to help you any way I can! Read these and please ask any questions, comment or feel free to DM me on Instagram/Twitter! I went to uni in the U.K. so that’s what my experience is based on, but I’m sure a lot of these will apply to university anywhere with shared accomodation!
1. Keep your stuff to yourself.
As soon as you say yes to one person once, the whole flat will be using your frying pan for a year! Make it clear from the get go that your stuff is your stuff and you won’t be sharing. I know it sounds mean, but people will take advantage of you. I’ve had burnt frying pans, can openers thrown out of the window, knives I didn’t see for months, another burnt pan… And I didn’t give permission for any of those!
2. Make a cleaning rota.
Don’t be that flat who think they’re all such great friends that they don’t need a rota, you’ll all just chip in. A few months down the line it won’t work like that and you’ll be regretting the trek down to the bins for the fifth time in a row.
3. Be selfish.
I know this one is vague, and doesn’t seem nice but honestly, people will walk all over you in halls if you don’t stand your ground. Don’t share your milk, insist others do some cleaning for once. Be brave enough to stand up for yourself from the get go.
4. Buy your own cleaning products!
This is one of those things that most flats start off thinking they can share, but even though they have the best intentions, the same couple of people will be buying all the washing up liquid over and over, kitchen roll will disappear the second it enters the kitchen and you’ll never see those nice tea towels you brought from home again.
5. Learn some games that aren’t ‘Ring of Fire’!
They way you’ll get to know your flat is often by having a few drinks and playing some party games, but ‘Never Have I Ever’ and ‘Ring of Fire’ get pretty old pretty quickly, and if no one knows any others, that’s all you’ll do for a whole year! Learn some fun party games and take them will you.
6. Find a cooking buddy!
We all miss homecooked meals when we’re away because you can never replicate your mums cooking by yourself on a tight budget, but finding someone you can half the cost of an expensive meal with, or someone you can cook your favourite for one night who will cook you their favourite in return is a really great way to get some diversity and homliness in your meals. I had a friend who’d cook big pots of mac and cheese with me, we’d trade my homecooked chilli recipe for mushroom risotto, and we’d cook it all and eat together.
7. Make your room as homely as possible.
I’m talking fairy lights, cushions, photos, maybe even a little rug if you’re feeling fancy! You can start to feel so homesick in your little white uni box room, but really putting some time and effort into making that room feel like home can mean the world of difference. When you’re shopping for kitchenware to take away with you, keep an eye out for some cosy homeware too.
8. If you have the option, get an ensuite!
I was in halls with shared toilets and showers, and honestly it was completely grim. It was DISGUSTING. Baring in mind you’re at uni, so you may find your head down the loo a few times or may end up napping on the bathroom floor, you need a clean and hygenic space. That, my friends, is not a loo that is shared with a big northern bloke who survives on pies from a can and beer. Even if you’re tring to cut costs so you think it will be fine, paying extra for the ensuite option is so worth it, and not doing that is my biggest regret.
9. Don’t submit to peer pressure – if that’s what you want!
This is more of a serious one, but really important. There are going to be people around you drinking to excess and smoking a LOT of drugs. That’s just the way uni is! In my first week I asked someone why they had a bag of moss, and I never lived it down (it wasn’t moss). If you’re reading this you may have come from my bookish blog and therefore you may be more of a night-in sort of person. If you want to drink loads all the time and party, go ahead, have all the fun in the world – just be safe and know your limits. But, if you don’t you can find yourself subject to a lot of peer pressure, not only to drink but to take drugs. I’ve never smoked weed and don’t plan to, I’ve never smoked a cigarette either, but these things were around me constantly, way more that you’d think. People smoked drugs under my bedroom window every night. It was only my resolve and strong personality that kept me saying no every time I was told ‘come on, just try it!’ Just don’t be afraid to stick to your morals even if everyone else does it or they’re calling you boring.
10. Don’t hook up with your flatmate.
Seriously. Please. Just don’t do it. It might seem like a good idea during freshers, but you’re setting yourself and your whole flat up for a year of awkwardness.
I don’t know whether to tell you this one because it’s super dodgy… but… drunk people going out WILL leave their expensive vodka out on the table when they go off to the club and they WILL NOT notice if some disappears… Make of that what you will! and certainly don’t leave your own vodka out on the table!
So, those are my top tips for surviving university halls! Bare these in mind and I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time! I moan about my time in halls but in all seriousness it was a LOT of fun, I just wish I’d been more prepared, hence imparting my knowledge! Please ask me any questions you may have, I’ll be happy to help!