As a person who has spent her whole life in places close to home, I have not had the necessity or opportunity to live in student accommodation. So needless to say, the moment I decided to stay in student accommodation, I made it a point to think through and prepare myself for what was to come. It is quite a shift and will call for multiple compromises and sacrifices to be made. This blog details a few things that helped me endure this change.
I have been living in a privately-owned student accommodation named Northumberland House (previously an LSE student hall, currently owned by CRM). I live in a twin shared room with an en-suite bathroom and a kitchen shared with all my “flat mates”. We live in a single hallway with about eight rooms and ten people.
1) Meet all your flat mates
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But moving in is quite a labourious process and the odds are that we will be tired on the day we move in. The trick is to go ahead and knock on those doors as soon as you are done unpacking. Introduce yourself and get familiar. Sharing the premises for a year implies that there will be a lot of ups and downs. So having a personal connection goes a long way.
2) Build a social contract and communicate proactively
I’d highly recommend organising a meeting of flat mates right at the beginning, ideally once everyone has moved in. I wouldn’t delay it too much if I were you, though. This gives everyone a chance to meet each other, have some fun, and discuss expectations and needs. This is a good way to settle on hygiene levels, norms for how often cleaning will be done and by whom (if applicable), etc. Setting up these expectations into a “social contract” of ways in which we will treat each other is a good way to set up a communal bond. Sounds a bit pushy, but even organisations use this in their team-building activities. If five minutes of discomfort now will solve recurring issues in the future, I’d argue that it’s worth it.
3) Set social times (connection can mitigate possible tiffs)
I’d suggest having a designated “dinner day” with your flatmates, or some way in which you can connect on a periodic basis. This kind of connection not only builds a community but also mitigates possible tiffs.
4) A little thoughtfulness goes a long way
I lived with a roommate who ended up becoming like a sister to me. Possibly rare, but I genuinely lucked out. She taught me a lot about thoughtfulness by modelling it as well. Being considerate goes such a long way in creating a good atmosphere. We’d consistently communicate about switching on/off the lights and sound, ask the other before taking/making phone calls, ask the other if they need anything prior to going grocery shopping, etc. We went one step ahead and left little notes to each other in the mornings before we went our separate ways if the other person was still sleeping. F.R.I.E.N.D.S fans will remember Rachel leaving Monica notes on the bathroom mirror. That’s exactly where I got the idea from!
Overall, with a little bit of forward thinking and honest thoughtfulness, living in student accommodation can be quite an interesting experience. Remember to make the most of the comparatively cheap prices and the community that will be available. Hope you have a great time in your accommodation!