If you are currently at university, there is a high chance that you are living in halls of residence. I lived in one of these blocks for my first year of university and there were aspects of it I enjoyed and others I could have easily lived without.
In today's post, I am hoping to provide you with some top tips on how you can get through your halls of residence experience, some I figured out before I started living there and others I wish someone had told me before I went through this experience.
1. Bring sliders
Sliders are very underestimated when it comes to halls of residence. They are an absolute must if you have a shared kitchen as it will be covered in crumbs and God knows what else because no one will be bothered to hoover the floor. I never had a shared bathroom, but I'm aware some people do, so hopefully, wearing sliders will give you peace of mind in regards to your feet. They are also very handy if you are just popping round to your friend's flat for a quick catch-up as, let's be honest, who can be bothered to put actual shoes on just to go and see their mate who lives in the same building as them? They're also good for when someone inevitably sets their fire alarm off at two in the morning and you have to go and stand outside for ages until you're allowed back in.
2. Be open with your flatmates
As you're living with people you've never met before, there is a chance you won't get on (but also a chance that you will get on). Regardless of where you stand with one another, if something is annoying you about someone else, just tell them. I remember one night where I was unable to get into the kitchen until midnight to make myself some food because one of my flatmates had a load of his mates round to hang out (although they could have gone to one of their other flats as most of them all lived in the same flat anyway, but that's beside the point). Anyway, once they had all gone I kept hearing him stomping and he sounded quite angry, so naturally, I stayed away until I was certain he'd gone to bed. Once I emerged from my room and went into the kitchen, he'd left a load of post-it notes around the kitchen, such as asking people to wipe the hob down once they'd finished with it (which I've witnessed him before making a load of mess on and not wiping it down) and to take the bin out (which, again, I've witnessed him completely walk past and ignore when it's been full. The only reason being why I didn't do it was because I didn't have any clean bin bags and, having repeatedly asked him since we first moved in to leave his clean bin bags out until I managed to get some, he didn't leave any out). Instead of doing this, just talk to them. I'm not saying you should cause a rift in the group as you do all have to live together and this could make things awkward. If you don't like direct confrontation, maybe send a message into your group chat (another recommendation you do) or a direct message to someone if it's just one person. Keep things nice and polite and they should be able to see where you're coming from and hopefully, you can find a compromise.
3. Find your halls Facebook page
Most university halls should set up a Facebook page for each new intake. Here, you can find the people you are going to be living with, whether they are in your flat or in your building. You should also be able to find a Facebook or Whatsapp group chat link on here, for you and everyone else who's going to be moving into halls. I recommend you try and make yourself known on this as this is the perfect way for you to make friends with people before you're even at university. I am someone who will put off/forget to reply to messages, but if someone asks a question and you know the answer, answer it (I know this sounds simple, but as someone with social anxiety, stuff like this is really scary). Ask people when they're moving in, or if you move in and want to meet people, send a message and ask if anyone wants to do anything. Everyone is in the same boat as you in being in a new place and surrounded by people they don't know. They all want to get to know people, but even if these people don't end up being your people, it's great for practising your social skills and putting yourself out there.
4. Make your room as cosy as possible
Your room is your room and is the only space in halls you will have to yourself, so make it your own. I really regret not really bothering with trying to make my room feel more like home and it was an absolute tip. I had carrier bags everywhere for doing my food shop (I could have just put these under my bed or in my wardrobe), my make up was all over my desk and it just generally didn't look nice. The only things I really had to make it more homely was a diffuser (you're not allowed candles) and a small sign that said 'love' that I put on my windowsill. One thing I will recommend is fairy lights, particularly the ones that hang down your wall. I know other people who did this and their rooms always looked so cosy and nice. Add some scatter cushions to your bed. Put a blanket or throw over your desk chair (if you have one, although I think most university halls rooms have one) as these chairs never look that nice and it can help make the room look more put together. I know some people will buy their own curtains and put those up, but a lot of places don't like this and ask that you put theirs back up (although, if university halls could at least have better decor, that would be great).
5. Keep your main living space tidy
I've already kind of touched on this, but as you're going to be living with other people, you've got to be mindful of them. One thing this can help with is keeping your living/kitchen area tidy. This is often a communal space and I was lucky that I only had to share this space with five people, but other people in other university halls seemed to share this space with a lot more people. I can completely understand it if you're not typically a clean and tidy person (same), but just try and clean up your own stuff. I wouldn't always do my washing up straight away, but I would always at least pile it up in a little corner away from everything else so it didn't get in the way of anyone else. It's just so much easier and stops your flatmates from hating you.
6. Get to know your new area
Moving away from home and into an entirely new area is difficult for anyone. But a new area = a new place to explore and get to know and love. This space is going to be your home for the next few years, so you may as well get to know all of its quirks and cool spots. You can do this on your own, or see if any of the other freshers would like to come with you for a little explore (I'm sure they will). As students, you're going to want to spend as little money as possible, which means walking pretty much everywhere. Take the time to get to know the different routes you can take to walk to university, particularly the safest ones (I'd recommend keeping to the main road, but we all already know that as gospel). There will be so many places for you to go and see, whether that's bars, clubs, parks, museums, bowling, cinema, etc. You never know what amazing places you might find.
7. Take a picture of every single thing the day you move in
This one goes for anyone that's renting anywhere, not just university students in halls of residence, but it's really important. When you sign your rental contract, you will often have to pay a deposit which you should get back once you get to the end of your contract. However, the only way you can get this deposit back is if everything is the same as when you moved in. They will inspect your room once you leave to ensure everything is fine, but if there was a mark or even the tiniest scratch that was there before you moved in, they will possibly try and blame you for it and either deduct money from your deposit or refuse to give your deposit back. Taking photos will stop them from being able to accuse you of something you didn't do and should also mean you get your money back.
8. Get to know your flatmates
I'm not saying you all have to be the best of friends, but at the end of the day, you are all going to be living together for the next year. Getting to know your flatmates and at least being on friendly terms with them should make for an easier life for you all. It should stop any awkwardness and should, hopefully, make your first year a little bit more enjoyable.
Those are my regrets and hopefully, in reading through these, you won't make the same mistakes I did. I completely understand that in order to learn and move through life you have to make mistakes, but I definitely didn't make the most of my time in university and I really wish I had done. But that's hindsight, I suppose.
What are your university regrets (if you have any)?
Love Beth xx