During your university experience, there may be times where you are required to share a house, flat, or even a room with other students. Whilst sharing a living space with strangers may initially seem daunting, mastering the art of efficient and effective cohabitation is a vital skill for life in general. University accommodation can be a great way to make lasting and memorable friendships and immerse yourself in university life and culture, so making the most of assigned roommates can be to your advantage. The following are some key tips on how to ensure you are the best university roommate another student could ask for.
In today’s era of technological communication, there is no excuse to not to foster an environment of open and frequent communication with roommates. It is advisable to have some form of group chat so issues can be dealt with in a swift and effective manner together, as a group. It is important that, when bringing up issues with roommates behaviour, you do so in a timely and polite fashion, as allowing issues to fester will only foster resentment and hostility. Sharing an analog form of communication such as phone numbers will give you an alternative form of communication for house emergencies where WiFi may not be available. Alongside these indirect forms of communication, attempt to spend some time together in the spaces you share, for example, having dinner together in a shared kitchen or throwing a movie night in a communal living room will help you bond and get to know each other, preventing the formation of an awkward environment or cliques.
It is important to remember that everyone in shared accommodation is in the same boat as you; they are all studying for degrees and working hard, therefore, treating your roommates’ circumstances with respect and understanding is vital. When you first move in, try to compare schedules so you know on which days your roommates may need to rise early and so indicating to you when to keep the noise down at night. Whilst it may at first feel awkward to ask someone when they have key deadlines and exams, it can actually be helpful for reducing the tension surrounding these periods, whilst allowing you to still have fun, at times that are complementary to your roommates’ timetables.
Being there for your roommates can also be significant, as the move to university can be a tough transitional period for many, so try to reach out if you see roommates struggling to cope, because creating an emotional support structure for each other can make your shared house feel like a home from home.
Everyone has different levels of tidiness and cleanliness and keeping your own room at a level that makes you most comfortable is entirely understandable. However, inflicting your particular level of cleanliness or messiness on roommates can cause stress and conflict, making the house or flat an unpleasant place to live. Try to tidy any mess specific to you and create a rota to share general cleaning duties fairly. Respect for shared spaces also extends to usage, and monopolising shared spaces such as kitchens or living rooms for socialising or large projects disrespects others’ rights to use those spaces. Instead, try to ensure that everyone gets fair use of shared spaces and if you are socialising in a shared space, invite your roommates to join in!
In conclusion, living with assigned roommates or flatmates is a unique experience that requires tact and communication to navigate successfully. It can also lead to the formation of some of the most significant friendships of your university career and can be a useful scenario in which to learn and develop skills vital to success in cohabitation later in life. Let us know in the comments below if you have lived in assigned housing and how the experience affected your overall university experience!