Living with new people can be hard, especially when you come from all over the world and are used to doing things in a certain way. University accommodation offers the best opportunity to meet and socialise with new people and learn from new experiences. One thing that all students have to learn is how best to diplomatically resolve tensions amongst their housemates. Not everyone is easy to live with - but it’s all a learning curve and frequently, it’s better to resolve problems early on then leave them to linger.
You’re not always going to agree, be considerate of that
With everyone having different ways of working and living, it’s pretty much impossible for everyone to be in complete harmony all the time. Being considerate of that is important. Sometimes things just aren’t worth the argument and being aware of your new flatmate’s point of view, and respecting it even if you don’t necessarily agree or understand it is an important part of living with other people for the first time. Remember to say “I can see why you feel that way. Can we compromise?”. Meeting in the middle is always the best way to resolve issues about how you use your communal space.
Be straightforward with your expectations
It’s important to be clear from the start about what you’re happy with and what you don’t mind about when it comes to living with a group of new people. Some people don’t mind loud noise into the night - they can sleep through pretty much anything anyway! Others prefer peace and quiet after dark, that’s okay too. If you like the bathroom to be kept clean and tidy, or you don’t want pans being left by the sink unwashed, make sure you’re straightforward about it from the start. That makes it much easier for your flatmates to know where they stand and means that you can keep on top of making communal spaces a nice environment for you all.
Don’t be afraid to say something if you’re not happy
Part of being straightforward is also speaking up when you’re not happy. Tell your flatmates if something is wrong, whether it be that something has been left messy, or if you can’t find something. But be nice and friendly too. Fundamentally you all want to live together happily and most of the time things won’t be right because of an accident or because it’s slipped their mind. It’s their space too - so make sure you’re being fair and reasonable, as well as respectful that things aren’t always going to be perfect all the time.
Label everything to avoid confusion
Labelling is a great way to keep an eye on your possessions, particularly in communal areas like kitchens and bathrooms. Designating each other a cupboard for your cooking items, food and crockery is a great way to start. Labelling things with a sharpie when you buy them can also be helpful, particularly when it’s a food item that most of you will be buying regularly, like condiments or spices. Make sure that if you borrow something from someone else you ask first - and similarly that your flatmates know how you feel about them borrowing from you if they need to.
Make your personal space your own
The best part about moving into student accommodation is by far being able to make the space your own. Chat to your housemates about investing in decorations or additional furniture for the communal areas. If you all invest time into making it a comfortable space then the likelihood is that you’ll all be a lot more invested in keeping it clean and tidy and it will help you all form bonds with each other. Similarly, make sure that your personal space is reflective of you, too. That way when you need some time to yourself, you know you have a safe space to go to where you can rest and relax.