Freshers’ week: it’s meant to be a fun, alcohol-fuelled week of bonding. And who do you bond with? Well, your flatmates from halls… presumably. They are the first people you’ll meet at university and the ones you’ll be living with for the next year. But what if that doesn’t quite pan out? What if your flatmates are, well, a bit of a nightmare? There’s a lot of pressure to get on with your flatmates in halls and while it’s great if you do love them, this isn’t the reality for everyone.
By the December of my first year at university, I was starting to feel a little hopeless. Christmas was fast approaching, my first term was almost completed and I was yet to have a conversation that lasted longer than a sentence or two with any one of my flatmates. And it wasn’t for lack of trying either. No matter how many times I tried to make friends, to chat, it was clear they had formed their own cliques and no amount of friendliness on my part was going to budge them. But despair not, there are multiple methods of action you can take when this happens.
The first thing to remember in this situation is not to blame yourself. Some people just don’t mix well. It’s not anybody’s fault, it’s life. Then there’s also the small fact that some people are just assholes. (It had to be said). Once you’ve got that out the way, it’s time to assess your position. Exactly how bad are your flatmates on a scale of mildly annoying to completely unbearable? You can request a change of rooms, or even halls, if you find you’re in a hostile environment that is having a serious and negative impact on you. Understandably, moving somewhere new when you’ve already had one bad experience with flatmates is no easy task, but it really might be better for you in the long run. Feeling isolated or attacked is not something you just have to put up with. Moving somewhere new will give you a chance at a fresh start.
If your situation is not quite as serious as all that, there are less drastic measures you can take. For example, why not try making friends with the people on your floor or just in your building in general? It can be intimidating, trying to make friends at a later point in the term, but it will likely be worth it. Being friends with someone who lives nearby to you offers you a place to escape to when it all gets too much. For me, doing this meant on desperate occasions I could even use a neighbour’s kitchen when I just couldn’t face trying to sort through the loads of mouldy washing-up that covered every inch of the work-surface. Another important thing to remember is not to neglect your course mates, particularly when deciding on who to live with next year. Living with people on the same course as you makes house-hunting a whole lot easier and is generally more convenient. It is not mandatory to live with your current flatmates, particularly when you don’t get along with them well.
Perhaps not all your flatmates are the problem, it’s just a few of them who are causing the difficulties. No one wants to be a killjoy but remember there is a point where you are allowed to say enough. Naturally, drunk students are going to stumble in late and clatter about a bit on occasion. But there’s now and again and then there’s blaring music every single night till very, very late. I was once woken up the night before an exam as my flatmates felt the need to blast Britney Spears at 4:30am. (And I mean blast. The walls vibrated. Their speakers must have been expensive).
In that situation, you’re within your rights to request they be they be a bit quieter. Obviously this is made easier if there’s more than one person who is annoyed. If you have a flatmate to back you up, it can make confronting the others a lot less daunting. I’m not usually a massive fan of rotas, being a disorganised person by nature, but they can be useful when it comes to making sure everyone does their equal share of chores.
At the end of the day, the university experience is also about having fun and making memories (I know, it’s cheesy but it is also true). You shouldn’t let unruly or unpleasant flatmates get in the way of that. So, just remember; you don’t have to put up with it. Branch out, make new friends and don’t feel like you can’t speak out when things get out of hand.