Student life is mostly fun, I’ll admit it. But there are times when it can be difficult, particularly when it comes to difficult flat mates.
So I’ve compiled a useful list of how to make your flat and a happy place. I’m neither going to confirm or deny if any of them happen to come from experience or not – your identities are therefore protected.
The ‘noise issue’
I’ve kept this one rather open-ended as the idea of noise is very far-reaching. Generally, there’s a time in your contract for keeping the noise down though, to be fair, at my place there’s a part which requires a reasonable effort at all times of the day. This is all the more important when living with people as you’re all so packed together.
Keep the noise to a minimum level at night and have respect for people. It’s the basic stuff really, keep the TV volume reasonable and try and keep it down when you’re coming in from a night out. I guess if you have people staying over then be mindful of that too – remember that you’re responsible for them and if something goes wrong them it’s down to you.
Keeping it clean
There’s nothing worse than a messy flat. You see, I say that… but then again sometimes I’ve been guilty of not keeping it sorted myself. The communal areas are a joint effort, so make sure that if you have a rota, stick to it and do your part. If not, then there’s an assumption of trust going on – that you’ll make the effort out of pure desire for a clean place. Mopping, wiping down surfaces, and taking out the rubbish are all parts of the job, sadly. Don’t be that guy (or girl) who doesn’t clean up stuff. If you’re lucky to have a dishwasher then make sure it’s emptied when it needs to be and switched on when you have to – and make sure that your tablet supplies are in order or you’ll find yourself washing everything by hand.
I guess the latter point touches on general cleanliness – don’t be that person who never buys anything for the flat. It’s especially annoying if you’re saying ‘I can’t afford it’ and then you’re off on nights out. I’ve seen it and it’s a right pain.
One of the better ways to ensure that you’re fully integrated into the group is to ensure you’re around and wanting to get involved with everyone else! There are great ways to bond, from films and bonding over the latest Xbox release… to working together if you’re on a similar course and going to the pub. Other good ways include cooking as a flat and maybe even having some competition in the kitchen too – we’ve hosted a Flat Come Dine With Me in my place, which proved to be a rousing success!
As prescriptive as it sounds, it can be difficult to fully understand people if you don’t see enough them. Being sociable and getting into more activities together might not be your thing, but some kind of interaction is going to help things along greatly. For me, it has always created a greater sense of understanding in the flats I’ve lived in.
From memory, my greatest memories of flat life were where we managed to get everyone involved and everyone was clear on how we wanted things to run – from bin rotas to making sure the noise wasn’t an issue – and of course that everyone knew when we were having a massive flat party. In my second year I lived in a mixed flat where we got to see a fair bit of everyone – I cooked for the girls in my flat now and again and me and the lads went to the pub to have a pint and watch the football.
I think my experiences of Grenoble were somewhat different as I didn’t really see any of the people around me – we didn’t live in flats as such and in reality I spent most of my time getting to know people from all over the world thanks to different events and parties.
This year? Well it’s six men in a flat and I have to say, it works best when we’re all together and watching a film or having a few matches of FIFA.
These are just my experiences of flat life, though I suspect that it’s down to everyone’s personal preferences. Still, if you’re all in there together, I can’t really stress enough how much of the harmony is created by doing the little things right – making sure that you’ve added your bit to the success of the flat or house and ensuring that you’re not keeping people up at night.
One small thing to add: if you’re living in a house, make sure that you’re on time with paying everything! In a residence, it’s nice and easy because you pay your bit straight to management or the landlord, whereas in a house you might find that the money comes out of one account and everyone is jointly liable. If you’re late, you’ll find that someone else may need to pick up the tab, which I’m told is extremely frustrating. Whether it’s sending money to your house-mate or even paying for one utility yourself – a common arrangement if it’s not all included in the price – you really need to be on point. Make sure your reminders are set and you don’t put it off!
Hopefully this new year works for you in multiple ways, but make sure that you do your bit to help others too!