The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
As the term fast approaches and freshers’ week is now behind us, you’ve probably moved into halls or are about to, and you might be wondering what your life will be like in halls. It’s normal to be feeling a mix of excitement, nerves, happiness and loneliness. Uni is a big step after all, especially if it’s your first time living away from home.
Below are a list of 8 tips to deal with living in uni halls:
- Your Room
When you first move in with your numerous bags and items, it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit isolated and not quite happy. I think people have this expectation that their room will be a 5* star hotel, but in fact it’s nothing like that. It’s up to you to make your room feel homely and make it a safe and comfortable space – so put some effort in! After a day of lectures or writing essays, you want to come back to room that is comfortable and welcoming.
In my experience, I’ve found that you either have a great halls experience with your flatmates, or you don’t. This isn’t to put people off, but you have to understand that you’re put with random people. When you think about it, it would be a miracle if you all liked each other and got on. It’s important to make an effort with your flatmates:
- Meeting your flatmates: trying to track down all your flatmates can be a difficult task in order to meet them. So a few good ways within the first couple of days of moving in, is leaving your room door open for people or sit in the communal area where they will eventually explore. In first year, I bought a box of chocolates and left them in the kitchen with a note introducing myself and suggesting a movie night at some point. This was a great ice breaker – because let’s face it, everyone is a bit nervous when you move in.
- Activities: try to suggest and organise some fun activities for you to bond with your flatmates. Whether it’s going to the cinema, going out for brunch, going out for drinks, or visiting some areas of the city – make sure that everyone is included and happy with the idea! For example, if someone doesn’t want to go clubbing or doesn’t drink, then don’t do an activity that involves things that they’re not comfortable with. You can always do that with other friends.
- Not getting on with people: There will most likely be moments when you don’t agree with your flatmates or people you meet. Given that you’re thrown together with a bunch of strangers that have different personalities, attitudes and backgrounds, it’s perfectly normal if you don’t get on. My advice is to be civil. Everyone has bad days, but those days are made better when you get on with those that you’re living with.
- Flatcest: ‘Flatcest’ is the popular term that refers to flatmates that get together. This can become complicated and uncomfortable for both the people involved with the flatcest and the other flamates that live in the flat. Generally speaking, most flatces’s end badly. Although some people can find happy relationships from this, most people just do it for the convenience of living in the next room to one another. Avoid it at all costs, because once something has happened it can’t be undone.
Halls are quite compact, and there are lots of people coming in and out of the buildings. Sound seems to travel differently in halls so don’t expect it to be soundless. Whether you’re on the phone, playing music or shutting a heavy door, there’s a chance someone will hear you. So do be mindful, especially at night and during exam season.
Cleaning can be a difficult subject in halls. It’s important to remember that everyone has different hygiene standards, and that for a lot of people who have moved to uni – it’s likely that it’s their first time away from home. This means that doing chores such as cleaning is a new concept to many.
I think it’s important to be clear to your flatmates about your view on cleaning. Some people will leave dirty plates, saucepans and cutlery on the side for days on end and they don’t think it’s a problem. It’s better to address these issues early. Particularly with COVID, it’s important to voice your anxieties about hygiene.
5. Fire Drills
Fire safety is an important part of living in halls. Although it may seem like a bore, universities must carry out fire drills by law. So expect at least one fire drill every term.
Laundry can be a pain because of the difficulty of getting a free machine and the price of it. To make it as cheap as possible, it’s better to do big loads at once, rather than lots of half-loads.
In order to get a free machine, it’s best to avoid peak times. I found the best time to go was early in the morning, because any time after it was impossible to get a machine.
Be wary that if you leave your machine for a second because you forgot a pair of socks – people will take your stuff out! So when you go to do washing, make sure you’ve got everything. Also, don’t leave anything in the washing machine because you’ll never see it again!
7. Don’t move in with your flatmates
Once you’re past freshers’ week and well into term, the topic of conversation might change to getting a house for second year. There seems to be this overwhelming pressure to put your name down ASAP with your flatmates who you’re currently living with – and this tends to a be a trap. This is because some people tend to put on a façade or a persona, so they’re not being fully true to themselves. They might be overly nice but this behaviour can change very quickly into first term, so don’t put your name down with others just because of the convenience of it all.
Sharking is a term that refers to people (typically men) in their last year or last few years of uni who want to ‘get with’ a first year student – known as ‘fresh meat’. It’s important to be aware of this, particularly for young women, because these people tend to take advantage of your innocence. It can become dangerous on nights out when alcohol is involved, so it’s important to remember what you want to do – if you want to engage with this behaviour then that’s your choice, and if not, make it clear you’re not interested and stay away from these predators. Unfortunately that’s what it is – predatory behaviour that aims to take advantage of young women.
It’s important to have fun at uni. Make sure you look after yourself, make your room comfortable, and treat yourself every now and then. Living away from home is a big thing, especially if you haven’t done it before. Just remember everyone is in the same boat, so be nice, kind and stay true to yourself.