If you’re moving into student halls, chances are you might be staying in a converted office block, or accommodation so old it still uses an immersion heater (ask your parents). Living in student digs is something of a right of passage for many higher education students in the UK, and it’s kind of comforting (and disgusting) knowing that the room you’re moving into hasn’t changed much since its creation in the 1970s (if it’s lasted until now, it’s at least stable).
Today we walk you through some of the big dos and don’ts of moving into shared student living and give you some advice on making sure the only toxic thing in the building is the asbestos.
Student Halls = Magnolia Rooms… Add Some Flair
Nothing says ‘this place is mine’ quite like four magnolia walls. The university-housing Illuminati saw a bulk buy offer on the most neutral of paint colours and just couldn’t resist, I guess. Luckily, with a couple of well-placed posters, you can change a room fit for a sociopath into something that resembles a place you wouldn’t mind dumping your clothes.
Bonus points for vintage lava lamps, but try to avoid anything inflatable. If you’re really trying to impress, go with a Jules Et Jim poster – then watch Jules Et Jim just in case someone asks – (and if they ask, say: “I like the film’s euphoric rejection of morality”).
Washing Clothes – My Beautiful (Logistically Challenging) Laundrette
Washing clothes is a skill that will serve you well for life. We suggest trying to keep on top of your dirty rags; otherwise, you risk having to explain some questionable fashion choices to your peers. Depending on the size of the student accommodation, you may be sharing washing facilities between 100 people; finding moments when the machines are free will set you up well for the rest of the year. Early mornings are a good bet, or better yet, find your future partner (when did this association begin?!) and wash your threads by dragging your clothes down to the local laundrette.
Invite a flatmate to join you in a clothes-washing session, or offer to throw some of theirs in with yours to gain some moral leverage that can be used sometime later.
Cooking – A Recipe for Disaster
If not shared well, the kitchen can become a battleground. You can attempt to circumnavigate the hassle of jostling for cooking space by setting up a schedule, but inevitably people will ignore such meaningless pieces of paper. You have a couple of choices here: cook enough for a few days, cook enough for you and another (more bonus moral leverage), or drastically alter your sleeping pattern to fit around the quieter times of the day (we suggested option one or two). And if your cooking skills are subpar, take note of who knows their way around the kitchen and offer to help (with time and money); you might pick up a few tricks.
Oh, and never, ever steal anyone’s food.
Cleaning – Of Mice and (Dirty) Men
In terms of potential antagonism, a close second to cooking is cleaning. Again, rotas are likely to be ignored, and hiring a cleaner is only for morally bankrupt people. What’s the solution? Guilt might be a good place to start; doing more than others is likely to get you some guilt currency that can be spent at a later date. A few gentle hints around the house can also help guide people in the right direction. Make it a task that’s followed by something fun; if it worked on Pavlov’s dogs, it’d work on 18-year-olds!
Find Common Ground (and Booby Trap Your Room)
People are not all that complicated (sorry psychology students). They like one or more of the following music, film, sport, food and socialising. Ask some questions to find your common ground and make some time each week to developing your relationship. These people could well become friends for life.
Likewise, having some boundaries put in place early on will help keep your room free from unwanted guests. Make the communal area the place where your time is shared.
Be Considerate – Note to Self: Look up Empathy
Thinking about how your actions affect others is a fundamental principle of basic human decency, yet many 18-year-olds seem oddly unaware that others have feelings. You can start being considerate by asking your flatmates if they mind you playing music on your subwoofer before you start dropping dubstep bangers, finding out when birthdays are and planning something fun, and lending your ears when they’re feeling a bit blue.
Don’t Get Pets
This is most likely the first time you’ve lived away from home. Do you really think you’re dependable enough to support a living thing? Start with a plant and see if it’s still alive after a couple of months, then continue not to get a pet until you’re at least 25.
Do Get a Bike
Most cities and towns in the UK are pretty easy to get around by bike. Save yourself some dough and improve your weak calf game by getting hold of a decent second-hand bike. Oh, and get a proper lock.
Unsure about your rented accommodation choices? Contact HND Insider today to discuss your options with our team.