As anyone who has flat shared before will tell you, it’s not always smooth sailing. It can be hard enough sharing a space with one other person, let alone six or seven, as students everywhere will be finding out soon enough as they experience for the very first time what it is like to live in student accommodation.
To begin with, it’s exciting, liberating, to be free of authority figures – to get to stroll through the door at silly o clock, whilst loudly slurring the (wrong) lyrics to Disney’s I’ll Make A Man Out Of You, and not have a single person to answer to… and then you realise. You do. They’re called your flatmates.
So, to give you a head’s up, here’s a few hints and tips that may be useful to remember when the time comes.
1) People don’t like other people stealing their food/drink. That sounds pretty obvious, right? What most people don’t realise when they move into halls is that, in order to go into the fridge and find milk in it, you have to first go to the supermarket and buy the milk. Unless of course, you’re anything like the hordes of milk-thieving students (myself included, I am ashamed to say), who see a carton of milk, knowing full well that THEY didn’t put it there, and just take it anyway. This is a bad habit to get into – not only is it clearly disrespectful to your fellow flat mates, it can also have other negative consequences, such as, oh, I don’t know, you could end up mistaking a carton of somebody else’s orange juice for somebody else’s milk, and pouring it into your coffee. Trust me, it’s even more disgusting than it sounds.
2) Yes, you’re all young and stupid, and young and stupid people are more than happy to listen to the dreary, monotonous tones of their neighbour playing drum and bass until half four in the morning. Except actually no, they’re not. So shut up. Headphones exist for a reason, and the majority of people would probably quite like it if you used them. Just saying.
3) You’re going to be thrown in with an eclectic mix of characters, and it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to hit it off with all of them (unless you’re the Dalai Lama – but then again, I don’t think even he would be able to tolerate cheese-licking girl). The key is to remember that, although cheese-licking girl is annoying, she is just as worthy of your respect and kindness as the next person. Unless, of course, she starts licking your cheese. Then you have every right to take a stand. (But then again, if you’re a milk-thief, you haven’t really got a leg to stand on).
4) Some people are more than happy to live in squalor. Others, on the other hand, might prefer NOT to contract salmonella within their first week of university. As hard as it can be to change a habit of a lifetime, it’s a really good idea to try and be as considerate as possible when it comes to doing your share of the cleaning. If you’re not a fan of washing up, at least keep your dirty plates in your own room so they’re not in the way for others to do theirs.
Flat sharing can be a really enjoyable experience, if it’s done right. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever be in an environment quite like halls again, so enjoy it, make the most of it, and above all, double check, TRIPLE check, that you’re stealing what you thought you were stealing before you go pouring orange juice in your coffee.