What I wish I knew as a first year student, as a graduate – accommodation and living

Having stayed in Lincoln for 4 years, I’ve lived in quite a few different environments and accommodation options (including a year studying from home due to the pandemic in 2020). From my experience, choosing the right accommodation is the key to having the best first year at university and I’m here to tell you why!

Overpacking – the habit every first year student makes

It’s very easy to grab a list off student-based websites, or buy anything in the ‘back-to-uni’ aisle of Wilkos or ASDA, but I assure you it’s not necessary. Think at home, if you use it on the daily or every week, bring it. Otherwise, you probably wont use it. At the same time, consider items that you don’t realise you use – like coat hangers, a bottle opener, an airer, etc. You also probably won’t need an entire dining set, you may only ever use two of the four plates/bowls in the set. When packing, I would strongly advise packing things in bags for life. That way you’ve got shopping bags for the year, and they can be easily folded away afterwards! Also, I assure you – you don’t need to take bigger, household appliances like kettles, toasters, microwaves, etc. Check your accommodation information to see if it already comes with one. If it doesn’t, organise with your flatmates once you’re there to all pay towards what you need.

My first year – Cygnet Wharf

So when I applied, I knew I wanted an en-suite room. I didn’t care about who I shared with (gender-wise), whether it was quiet or not, nor whether it had a double or single bed. I fell in love with Cygnet at an open day so it was top of my list in my application, but I remember including Pavilions (back when it was owned by the University), and Gateway. Weeks prior to moving in, I found out my flat details and befriended my flatmates prior through Facebook groups set up by the accommodation team. Then, I moved in with the help of my mum, the accommodation team and a 6ft packing trolley. Unpacking took a while, and I mean a while. I probably didn’t settle in until a week had gone by, giving me enough time to unpack. All of us were in the same boat though, so it didn’t matter. Slowly introducing ourselves to each other, whilst showing each other our rooms – especially the 3ft by 3ft pin board above our beds and desks, it’s the best way to get to know your flatmates.

Living with strangers – the do’s and the don’t’s

Do communicate. Communication is key to any housing situation. As cliche as it sounds, you need to inform flatmates of anything major. Whether you’ve broken something, or are asking someone to borrow their milk, don’t be that one flatmate who just does stuff without telling others.

Don’t be judgemental over the way other people live. We’re all used to living a certain way, be it generally, religiously or culturally. Some people have certain diets, and it’s important that you respect it. Some people may also have allergies so be mindful when cooking!

Do set out ground rules. If you, as a flat, are going to put together for communal cleaning products, washing up liquid, bin bags, etc., organise a payment split or fortnightly trips individually for each flatmate.

Don’t be disrespectful. It’s understandable if you’re always out clubbing during your first year, but don’t be loud when returning. Don’t wake up your flatmates or neighbours at 3am continuing the party there without asking everyone. Also, keep your area in the communal areas clean, and don’t take the mick. Nobody likes having to clean up other peoples mess.

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