By George Watkins
Halls are strange. You have decided to move in with a group of strangers into a flat in a new city surrounded by hundreds of people who have decided to do the same.On the one hand you’re surrounded by new people and have an exciting chance to try out some new things (I don’t mean drugs), but on the other you have to totally look after yourself, whilst surviving on high levels of stress, not enough sleep and a constant edginess about whether you remembered to lock the door before your flatmates clingfilm everything you own (I made this mistake a fair few times). So how can you get the best out of this oddly wonderful period in your life?
The first step is to make sure your room is a haven. IKEA is just down the road, and during Freshers the union regularly runs shuttle buses to and from there. A life-saver for my room was to buy two mattress toppers because my bed was awful. I could feel the springs poking into my back, but with that extra support I slept like a baby (when I didn’t get woken up by my Spanish flatmate coming back at 3 am and deciding to tell her life story to her friends in the corridor next to my room).Other great ideas are a tray to store your papers, a stapler and hole-punch (trust me it’s worth it), more than one towel, a super soft throw for your bed or even a shade for your light if the lightbulb is exposed.
What about dealing with a shared living space? Two things I wish I had known were to firstly do your washing up as soon as possible to avoid having to pick your stuff out of a bowlful of greasy pasta water. Also, try to make sure you buy things with decent shelf lives. Don’t do what one of my flatmates did and pack the older stuff to the back of his cupboard and keep buying new food he never ate. Healthy eating is possible, but it’s a matter of personal preference.
Flatmates can be the hardest part of living in a lottery like this. You get on with one of them really well, but they’re friends with another one who you don’t like and they both change when you’re around the two of them. You wish that person would tidy up after themselves etc etc. The only advice I can give is to be assertive and to communicate as much as you can. It gets worse if you don’t be honest about it, but by that I don’t mean kick off and create a new Cold War in the kitchen. At the same time it’s important to not be passive aggressive either. That person doesn’t wash up? Don’t leave their dishes outside their door. It’s not going to end well.
The final and most important piece of advice I can give is to enjoy it . It’s weird and can be tricky at times, but it’s also great fun.