Living with a group of strangers at university is the perfect way to socialise and meet new people. You’ll get to know your new flatmates like you would your own family, and learn invaluable life skills that will make your time at uni so much more worthwhile.
That’s not to say living with strangers is always easy. After the excitement of moving day and freshers’ week, the realities of living independently with a group of new people will set in – and your real uni experience will begin.
How you get on with your flatmates will have a big impact on your life and studies at university. That’s why it’s important to maintain good relations where you can, and make an effort to create a positive, friendly and inclusive atmosphere for everyone.
In this guide, we offer tips and advice on the steps you can take to maintain positive relationships with your university flatmates, giving you the best chance of making fast friends with those you live with.
A great way to avoid tension and future confrontations with your housemates is to be honest about your expectations. Sitting down to have an honest and friendly chat as a group is a healthy way to establish some ground rules, and make sure everyone’s on the same page about things like cleanliness, social habits and noise.
While you may not agree with someone else’s stance, this is a time for everyone to talk openly. By laying out your expectations and hearing those of others, you’ll be more readily prepared to deal with the daily pressures of living with others, and can take a more tactful approach rather than letting unhealthy tensions and disagreements descend on the house.
Whether you’re living with complete strangers or your mates, a successful flat-share relies on mutual respect. Not to sound parental, but aim to treat others as you’d like to be treated in return, and you’ll soon earn the respect of your housemates – something which can have a hugely positive sway on how at home and settled you feel in your new digs.
Here’s a good example of showing respect to a flatmate: say they’re up early for a 9am lecture – it’s probably not the best idea to throw a party ‘til the small hours. Instead, move your socialising somewhere else or send your mates home before late. Little things like this are how you earn and show respect, and it won’t go unnoticed in the long term.
One thing that’s guaranteed to nark off flat-sharing students is when one or more people aren’t pulling their weight in the cleaning department. We get that there’s more to uni life than chores, but maintaining a clean and organised space will help to keep the whole group happy.
A great way to make sure everyone chips in with the weekly clean-up is to come up with a chores calendar. That way, everything gets done and chores can be doled out evenly, so everyone feels like they’re doing their fair share. When someone doesn’t pull their weight, it can affect the whole dynamic of the group, and mean that tensions can quickly start to build.
Nothing brings people together like food, so a good way to keep the whole flat happy is to organise regular cooking nights where you can all get together, catch-up and share some delicious homemade food. By taking turns to cook for one another, you’ll learn about each other’s backgrounds and enjoy some great bonding time, which can be difficult to find time for once the real business of studying begins.
Organising cooking nights might take a little effort, but it’ll be worth it. Try to make sure everyone can come so that people feel included, and split the bill on the food shop to keep things fair. There’s no better way of making friends and catching up than over a plate of something delicious.
Amid all the excitement, work and play of uni, finding time to talk with your flatmates can be tricky – especially if you’ve made friends on your course who you spend more time with. But to maintain the best possible relationships with your flatmates, it’s important to make yourself available for quick chats and catch-ups, and generally make an effort to ‘be there’ for those you share a roof with.
Lending an ear and a friendly smile is one of the best things you can do to maintain positive and healthy relationships with your housemates. People have a lot on their plate, so taking the time to listen to their problems and chat is a great way to make friends and maintain a close bond.
While every student should take their studies seriously, we’re not wrong when we say there’s more to life at university than burying your face in books. Making friends, socialising and living independently are all part of the wider student experience, and, coupled with having fun, should be taken just as seriously as studying for that next assignment.
If you want to have positive and healthy relationships with your housemates, it all comes down to having fun. Whether that’s through regular parties, cooking nights or Netflix-binging marathons, spending quality time with your flatmates can go a long way in keeping a friendly and relaxed atmosphere around the place, and will lay the building blocks for a great friendship.
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