So you’ve moved into your new room and you’re about to meet the other students in your residence. Will they become friends for life or a painful anecdote? Here are five top tips for making your communal living as painless as possible.
1. Make your expectations clear. It’s important to agree as early as possible what everybody’s expectations are. Do you expect to share the cost of milk and toilet paper or will everybody buy their own? How do you feel about people playing music late at night? Is there something you’re particularly sensitive about? The more you discuss at the beginning, the better you’ll all get on.
2. Allow for cultural differences. You may find it gross that they eat hummus or gherkins for breakfast, but in their country maybe that’s just normal. Equally, if someone seems a bit abrupt because they don’t say please or thank you, it may be how it’s done back home. Give them time to prove you wrong! Oh, and try the gherkins. You might like them!
3. Label anything you don’t want to share. So many arguments among students start when somebody eats, drinks or uses something that was another student’s personal item. If there’s something you bought specially or don’t want to share, make it clear. Put a label on it (a polite one!) and with any luck it’ll still be there in the morning.
4. Keep talking. If someone or something is making you unhappy, it’s better to say something than let it fester. That doesn’t mean shouting and making a scene, but explaining calmly what the problem is. At the same time, cut everyone some slack. Remember you’re all away from home, some of you for the first time. People take time to adjust and they may be homesick or stressed.
If you’re worried about a fellow student’s welfare, talk to the student welfare office at your university. They’ll be able to make sure you offer the best support you can and can stop a problem turning into a crisis.