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Learning to live with new people

When you get to university you expect to be best mates with your new flatmates within five minutes – Right? That’s what endless university advice pages told me.

These pages are great for calming nerves about living with new people. They don’t quite help if, like me, you get to uni and don’t have that instant connection. It can make you feel like something is wrong with you and, in all honesty, a little disappointed. Before I started I wish someone had told me that it would take me five months to properly bond with my flatmates, not five minutes.

I’m here to tell you that this is normal for some – you might have had an instant connection with your flatmates, but even so, living with new people can be tricky.

Flatmate problems are far more common than you’d expect and, chances are your flatmates will be feeling the same way as you. However, this is not the end of the world. You are bound to argue about the bins or the dirty dishes, but don’t let it consume you:

You will feel awkward to start with.

Talk to each other. Do simple things such as forcing yourself to sit in the kitchen to eat, or leave your bedroom door open once in a while. Don’t moan about the dishes too much either. These small things will all help and I wish I had done them more often.

Problem Flatmates.TM

In my flat there was one thing all of us felt but none of us addressed – an issue with one flatmate. Now, I don’t recommend that you have a flat argument at 3am on a Monday night before half of you have 9am lectures. This. Is. Unwise. However, it did help. It cleared the air. The flatmate in question stopped most of the behaviour that upset us – we can now sit and spend time in the kitchen together without feeling like we should hide in our rooms. However, none of us should have had to experience that. We should have sat down with our flatmate and had a genuine conversation – not a late night argument.

Part of the bond is natural

After the argument mentioned above the flat made a conscious effort to spend time together. This still felt slightly forced, but it was starting to get easier. When we returned to uni in the new year it felt so natural to spend time together. We don’t spend all day talking on the group chat but even tagging each other in Facebook memes every few days became a habit, all of which helps you become closer. Social events help too. Nights out and the accompanying stories result in some side-splitting afternoons spent in the kitchen decoding what actually happened, and filling in flatmates that don’t drink. (Side note, if you don’t drink don’t worry, there are plenty of social activities that aren’t based around alcohol.)

 University family.

My flatmates have become my substitute family whilst at uni. They’re the people I come home to and complain about who or whatever has annoyed me that day. We laugh together, cry together and celebrate together. At the end of the day that is what it is. We live together. It sounds so obvious but that’s the biggest thing of all.

Even if you’re never going to be the best of friends with your flatmates, you need to force yourself into being civil because you will spend the scariest, funniest and quite frankly, biggest year of your life with them. You can only move away from home for the first time once. You can only be a fresher once. Even flatmates in second year and beyond won’t have quite the same bond with you because you’re not that brand new baby freshers anymore. You will only have that bond with a handful of other people. You will always have that in common regardless of getting along or not.

Even if you aren’t ever going to be the best of friends, it’s for less than a year. It’s not for life.

If you are having problems with flatmates or anything else drop into Student Well-being or visit the University’s Advice service

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